Mystery of the Trinity, Part 3

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The First Person of the Trinity is God, the Creator of all and the Father of His children. The Second Person of the Trinity is the Son, the Savior of sinners. That’s who we’ll study today, as we try to understand the nature of the Trinity. Remember, there is one Trinity, made up of three separate and distinct Persons, who are one. Yes, it’s hard to understand, but hopefully, the more we understand each Member of the Trinity, the more we’ll appreciate its unique nature.

The Son of Man

Jesus is known as both the Son of Man and the Son of God. The phrase, “Son of Man,” means one born of man. It follows that “Son of God” means one born of God. So that title, then, speaks to the deity of our Lord. Jesus is always referred to the Son of God, never a Son of God. There is only one divine Son of God. He is unique in all the universe. He has a relationship with God the Father that none other has or can have. As Christians, we are able to have a relationship with the Heavenly Father through Christ, but even then, it’s different than that of the Second Person of the Trinity.

An interesting thing to consider is when did Jesus become aware that He was, in fact, the Son of God? He is both God and man; fully God and fully man. Babies and infants and even toddlers have no self-awareness; they don’t recognize themselves in a mirror until they’ve grown some. It may well have been that way with Jesus. It’s all speculation, of course. We know for sure that by 12 Jesus knew full-well who He was and what His mission on earth was.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. (Luke 2:48 – 50 | TNIV)

That’s a fascinating exchange. First, take a gander at what Mary said as he scolded her Son. She’s refers to herself and Joseph, her husband, as Jesus’ mother and father. This in spite of the fact that she was told something else back in Luke 1 –

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35 | TNIV)

So Mary still wasn’t quite sure about her Son. But, Jesus was very sure who His real Father was. He was in the God’s house, the Temple, and that’s how He referred to it, “my Father’s house.” By 12, our Lord was old enough to put two-and-two together, and even thought it wasn’t quite His time yet, He apparently was ready to get down to work; His Father’s work.

And finally, neither Mary nor Joseph understood what their Son was talking about, further suggesting that Mary either forgot about her angelic encounter (not likely) or that she just didn’t quite get it.

It would be years later before Jesus would receive startling confirmation of just who He was.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”. (Matthew 3:16, 17 | TNIV)

And even Jesus’ mother, Mary, would eventually come around to realize that there was something different about her Son. It happened during a wedding celebration. This would be our Lord’s first public miracle, but it’s what she said that’s so important.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:1 – 5 | TNIV)

“Do whatever he tells you.” Yes, she knew her Son had the solution, though she may not have had His particular one in mind. She somehow, by now, had heard enough and perhaps seen enough to know that her Son was not like every other mother’s son.

For His part, Jesus frequently aligned Himself with God’s work, suggesting that God’s work was His work.

No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:27, 28 | TNIV)

Late in His ministerY, Jesus spoke very highly of something Peter said of Jesus’ Deity and Messiahship.

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16, 17 | TNIV)

It took His mother and His disciples some time to realize who Jesus was, and even then, Peter needed divine revelation to understand. That Jesus knew who He was and that those close to Him did is indisputable. But, even those who weren’t particularly close to Jesus would come around.

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 | TNIV)

Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God; the Second Person of the Trinity, is the One the Father sent to earth, full of the Holy Spirit, to redeem sinful man. That’s a difficult concept to wrap your mind around, so it’s helpful if you sing it. Charles Wesley’s famous lyrics have helped many generations of people get this doctrine deep down in their hearts:

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

The Word

Jesus Christ is the the Son of man and the Son of God. Both of these titles refer to His nature and character. He is a Man – the perfect man, sinless in every way – representing all men before the Father. He is the Son of God, not that God the Father gave birth to Him in some weird way like the mythological Greek gods procreated. That title is a way of describing the relationship that exists – that has always existed – between the first two Members of the Trinity. As a Son has a special relationship with his father, so the Second Person of the Trinity has a special relationship with the First Person of the Trinity. Confused yet? Well, let’s look briefly at another title used of the Second Person of the Trinity. He is called “the Word.” That title tells us something else of His nature and character.

You and I as human beings communicate by means of words; we say them or write them down. Sometimes we draw them. We assign words to pictures; we think in pictures, but words describe the pictures we see in our heads. We use words to express our thoughts and our feelings. They can be inadequate, but words are all we have to communicate to others. The words a person uses reveals a lot about them; a lot about their education and upbringing, and even their character is revealed by the words they use. One scholar has rightly noted that:

A man’s word is his character’s expression.

Similarly, the “Word of God” is how God communicates with us. That phrase relates to two things in our lives, the Bible and Jesus Christ. Let’s deal with the latter. The Second Person of the Trinity is the expression of the First. Everything true of the words we use is true of the Word of God; He reveals something of God’s character and nature.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3 | TNIV)

The Son is “the exact representation of his being.” John in His Gospel makes sure we understand that this “exact representation of God’s being” is the Word; but not just any word, the Word who is a Person.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1 – 3 | TNIV)

Those opening words of John’s Gospel remind us of Genesis and the Creation. That’s appropriate enough considering how Jesus Christ recreates sinful human beings; remaking them into God’s children. God is eternal, and so is the Word. The Second Person of the Trinity has always been. The English verb “was” comes from a Greek word that describes and continuous action, without beginning or ending. Greek scholar Westcott helps us non-Greek scholars out:

The imperfect tense of the original [Greek word] suggests in this relation, as far as human language can do so, the notion of Supra-temporal existence.

The eternal Word – existing outside of time and space – is described as being “with God.” The power of the original language is lost in translation because there is no adequate way to describe the intimacy of the the fellowship that exists between the first two Members of the Trinity. Again, going into the Greek for a second, the word is more suggestive of “a forward motion” or “face-to-face.” The Word, then, is pictured as existing eternally moving toward the First Person of the Trinity, living face-to-face with Him.

As John used the term “word” in describing the Second Person of the Trinity, he was wanting the reader to understand that the essential nature of the Word is Deity – that is, God speaking to man; God revealing Himself to man through the Word. What we know about the Word – the Second Person of the Trinity – is that He always has been. He did not come into existence. He has always been “face-to-face” with the Father.

We get a very slight glimpse into how the Son is the expression of the Father in these opening verses of John. First, He has always co-existed with Him. Second, John tells us that everything was made by Him.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15 – 17 | TNIV)

Those are some pretty significant things Paul wrote about the Son. He existed before all things, and He created all things for Himself. Not only that, He sustains all things. So the Son quite literally is the Word, the creative Agent of God, as God “spoke” all things into existence.

And then there’s this:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. (John 1:4 | TNIV)

The Word, the Son, is the Source of all life. Of course, as the creative Agent of God, the Son is the source of all biological life. But the word John used here is zoe, not bio, which is the usual word for biological life. Zoe is used by John numerous times and it refers to “life from above,” or we might call it “spiritual life,” or “eternal life.” But it also means “abundant life,” referring to the quality of life in the here-and-now. The Son of God is the only Source for the “good life” today.

Not only that, but He is also the Source of all light. The first thing God created was light (Genesis 1:3). And the psalmist gives us a vital piece of information about this creative light:

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9 | TNIV)

Now, this is a very challenging verse to get the meaning of. The Good News Translation, renders it like this:

You are the source of all life, and because of your light we see the light. (Psalm 36:9 | GNTCE)

And from the The Living Bible, paraphrased for us by Ken Taylor, it looks like this:

For you are the Fountain of life; our light is from your light. (Psalm 36:9 | TLB)

And finally from The Message, odd paraphrase, Psalm 36:9 sounds like this:

You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. (Psalm 36:9 | MSG)

So, you can see the challenge. What did the psalmist mean? There is a definite connection between light and life; between the life the Son imparts to us as believers and the light that we receive when that happens. In the Son, we are able to see His light; we can relate to Him on an intimate level the unsaved man cannot. In the Son, there is spiritual and moral clarity; His light reveals truth and error and enables us to distinguish between them. His light guides us through life.

The Second Person of the Trinity is the Son of God and the Son of man and He is the light of our lives.

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