Letters to the Prison - Week 28

Hello, everyone!
We pray that God is encouraging you.  No matter what you are facing or what you are struggling with, God is bigger and stronger!  Look to him to be your refuge and strength.  If you’ve never prayed to him before, start today!  He’s listening.  He loves you and he loves to hear what you have to say to him.  Even if you’re mad at him, tell him!  He hears you.  You might be surprised by how he responds...

We’ve been considering the Gospel of John and how it answers the question:  
Who does Jesus say he is?

We’re also looking at what others say about who Jesus is.  Last week, we saw that Nathanael called Jesus “Rabbi” which means “Teacher” (John 1:38, 49) and this is true.  Jesus is definitely a teacher.  But, as we have clearly seen so far, that’s not all people in John’s Gospel say about Jesus…  nor is it the only thing that Jesus himself claims to be.  

Yet some people in the world think that Jesus was nothing more than a great teacher… or at most a wonderful preacher.  And that’s all they accept about Jesus.  Worse, some people say that Jesus himself never claimed to be more than just a teacher or preacher… but, apparently those people never read the Gospel of John.

C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian author, had this to say about Jesus:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”                                            -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 52

C.S. Lewis understood that Jesus made some amazing claims about himself… claims that only a “lunatic”… or the Son of God… would make.  Last week, we saw the first such claim recorded in John.  Look what Jesus says to Nathanael:
•“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”                -John 1:51

This seems like a strange thing to say… didn’t we just mention Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God?  Why, if he claims to be the Son of God, does he call himself the “Son of Man?”  We will see that Jesus doesn’t just use this unusual title for himself once.  Jesus refers to himself this way numerous times (Mark 2:10 and Matthew 8:20 are just two examples).  The phrase appears at least 80 times in the entire New Testament and always in reference to Jesus.  Does every reference to “Son of Man” in the Old Testament refer to Jesus?  No.  So, read carefully when you’re in the Old Testament and see the phrase.  

Anyway, What’s the significance of that title?  
Once again, we could spend weeks discussing the importance of it, but it’s enough to note two key things about the title “Son of Man:”
1.One place in the Old Testament where the phrase “Son of Man” does refer to Jesus is in the book of Daniel.  Look at what the prophet Daniel says:
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.-Daniel 7:13-14

This is one of the many predictions in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfills.  Jesus is the Son of Man to whom God (the Ancient of Days) gives an everlasting kingdom that will never be destroyed.  That’s a lofty title!

But Jesus also uses the phrase “Son of Man” to show his humility.  Yes, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.  But he also claimed to be… a man.  Flesh and blood.  Like us.  This is an incredibly important thing to remember.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man.

So, that’s a quick, simple explanation.  “Son of Man” is Jesus’ way of saying that he is at once a glorious king in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and an actual human being.

That’s a lot to think about!  If you don’t read the Bible often (or at all), we hope you will start.  Now is a great time.  In fact, if you’re reading this, you might consider that maybe this is God’s way of telling you “it’s time to start.”  Not that we would claim to speak for God…  but we hope you’ll start reading Scripture with us!  It’ll be easy to catch up since we’ve just finished chapter 1.  We’re moving on to John chapter 2 next week.  
If you need a Bible, ask for one!  We love you!  God loves you!

Dean A.

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