Only son. Really?
With the holy season of Lent about half over and just a few weeks until Holy Week and Easter, I have a question for you. Is Jesus God’s only son? Really? And is it “really” all that important to believe this? Why?
The Christian Faith says, “Yes” and “Yes” and here’s “Here’s why.”
Based on scripture from both the Old and New Testament, which is inspired by God and reveals his truth, some of the earliest Christians declared the essentials of the faith as it was to be believed and taught. This declaration of faith is known as the Apostles’ Creed. One of the questions that was being asked already in those days was our question today, “Is Jesus really God’s only son and why does it matter?”
Here’s what was declared as the eternally true answer in the Second Article:
“I believe in Jesus Christ, his (God’s) only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”
Some time later, Martin Luther, only a sinful human being as you and I, yet a man surely sent from God for a special mission here on earth, wrote his “explanation” of the Second Article in his catechism (book of teaching by means of asking and answering questions). These words give great affirmation to the original article and emphasize why it is so wonderfully important for us to believe this.
Luther writes, “What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death, that I may be his own and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”
Here lies the blessed necessity and the blessed good news about Jesus being God’s only son. That is, because he was God’s only son, he could do for us and be for us that which we would be lost forever without. He could save us from the reality of the death sentence of our sin. Yes, God has a rightful judgment against us for the mark of sin in our lives. But he (note: it is his action) has done what is necessary to cancel out that judgment against us. As strange as it may seem to us, it was Jesus’ death on the cross that paid the full price of our sin and won salvation for us — for you and me and all who believe. And, as strange as it may seem to us, it was his resurrection from the dead that conquered death for not only himself, but for us all — for you and me and all who believe.
I hope and pray you have read this far so you get to this “punch line” of truth: It is not that God has us by the shirt collar, shaking and yelling at us like some kind of bully, saying, “You better believe this or I’ll send you to hell in a heart beat!” No. The truth is that God, in his love for us, has revealed his truth to us, given us his loving warning about the reality of our sin, and has so wonderfully told us his plan for our salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, his only son. And his Holy Spirit is using God’s good news to work faith in our hearts, calling us and moving us to full reliance and trust in this marvelous way of life, both here and with him in heaven for eternity.
It is in this firm conviction that Jesus is God’s only son, that we Christians lovingly tell the world about him and invite all to come under the saving power of his cross and empty tomb. It is in this firm conviction that Jesus is God’s only son, that we who are his disciples lovingly never compromise or dilute our faith by giving in to the thought that maybe Jesus is just “one of” God’s sons, nor do we cave in to pressure that wants to make Jesus simply just “one of” the ways to God and heaven.
So, for Holy Week and Easter we Christian disciples will not fail to set this time aside for special and intentional worship, contemplation, and celebration that Jesus is God’s only son, our Savior. Amen.
[Kollmeyer is senior pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Ga. Hwy. 314, in Fayetteville. www.princeofpeacefayette.com]