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Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,…the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. – Luke 3:23-38 [ESV]
John makes no bones about it: The Word was God, he writes in chapter 1 of his gospel. And, “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). Matthew doesn’t speak directly about Jesus’ birth, but makes it clear that Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit. Of a virgin. Mark does not mention Jesus’ birth at all. But one thing they all agree on is that Jesus is the Son of God: God in the flesh.
I remember a very interesting visit with some Jehovah Witness members. They had connected with my friend’s grandfather. They were taking advantage of an older man who had little formal education, and was susceptible to their confusing twists and deception. They used their own version of the Bible which said that Jesus was a lesser “god.” I’m not sure we convinced them otherwise, but they did not convince us, nor confuse his grandfather any more.
Luke’s manner of witness is somewhat more subtle. He indicates that Jesus was “supposedly” the son of Joseph. I love that, “supposedly.” It means that people did that dangerous thing of assuming they knew who Jesus was…the son of Joseph. Ahh… but he was not. He was, like Adam, the son of God. But he was not like Adam in that he was “begotten of the Father from eternity.” We have John to thank for that clarity as he speaks of the Word (who would become flesh – Jesus) as “with God in the beginning.” And even John the Baptizer testifies about Jesus’ true identity: John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’” (John 1:15).
Let’s be clear: Jesus is God in the flesh. And that means we will have do deal with him. Not only as he speaks to the lost, telling them that they are forgiven and saved, but also in his harder sayings. Calling us to take up our cross and follow him. Commanding that we forgive someone 70 times 7 (most scholars believe this not to be a literal number, but a command that reaches as far as needed – 5000 times if need be). Confronting self-righteousness. Condemning self-serving religion. Pointing us to lose life in order to find it. Commanding us to give, not letting the right hand know what the left has given.
But let’s also be blessed: Jesus, Son of God, also died for the sins of the world. He laid in the grave and on the third day rose again, ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God. We have no weak Savior. We have no supposed savior. We have a Savior who loved us so much that he took on human flesh, lived among us for a time, suffered and died for us. And now when we pray, he who is God also knows our human frame. He has compassion and mercy on us. He loves us. This is not supposedly true. This is most certainly true.