The Son was with God in the beginning, and He is God; anyone who has seen the Son has seen the Father. How hard is this for us? The God whom the Hebrews of old would not say the name of, the God hid in the burning bush, or on Mt Sinai, someone whom the eyes of sinful man may not see, became Incarnate in a human woman, was born as a baby, grew in wisdom, carried on a ministry, was subject to arrest and the travesty of a trial, crucified and buried. This, itself, has been enough of a claim to lead men to this day to say that it could not be so. Jewish monotheism we are told, could not have produced this concept; yet it is there in the New Testament. As St Paul put it in Hebrews:
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?
6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
It was this revelation, that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, which gave rise to the Christological arguments which we so often cover here, but in this post, I want to go somewhere else.
Jesus provides us with the best example we shall ever get of what God is like, what He requires of us, and of what it means to be a Christian.
There is, as He knew full well, in us, not least in the religious among us, a tendency to need to stick to the rules. It is one way we deal with our self-knowledge of sin. Here, we think, here are the rules by which a good person should live, let us follow them. In itself there is nothing wrong with this, it is the effect of our own sin on this which creates the problem: it can lead us to be judgmental and to think ourselves somehow better than that sinner over there; it can lead us to compound for the sins we commit by urgent denunciations of those sins to which we are not inclined; it can lead us to follow the letter whilst forgetting the spirit which inspires the law of God. That, Jesus reminds us is summed up thus:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.”
God is love, and Jesus is its personification.
This is a love which reaches its fulfilment in self-sacrifice of the most extreme sort. It is an emptying of self in the interests of those who would seem to many of us ‘not worth it’. Jesus is a reminder that we are all ‘worth it’. We all stand before Him, empty and broken, full of a pride which would resist even the love that will redeem us – if we will but listen and open our heart, then even if our heart is cold as ice, from it will He draw forth the love that will redeem us and the whole world. Maran atha.