I am interested to know more about Christianity but there are just some things that I find hard to understand. I wonder if you could help me with them.
Sure let me know what you have difficulty in. I may not have all the answers but I will try my best to help. What is it you are struggling with?
For example, Christians refer to Jesus as God’s son. What I don’t understand is this: How is it possible for God to have a son? Isn’t that attributing human characteristics to God?
It is true Christians refer to Jesus as God’s son. But when we say that, we are not saying that God took Mary as a wife and as a result of a physical relationship this son Jesus was born.
If this is the case, then why is Jesus not referred to as God’s prophet? Why is he referred to as God’s son?
You see, son of God is a title that belongs to Jesus. In the language of the New Testament which is Greek, the word “son” is not used only to describe someone being the descendant of another, it is also used when someone has certain characteristics.
Could you give me some examples?
Sure. For example there is an expression “son of peace” which describes people who are peaceful and “son of disobedience” which describes people who are disobedient. I understand now even the Quran uses “Ibn Sabeel” which literally means “son of the road” to describe a traveler.
Yes, even in our English language we have the expression “like father like son”. We often use this term when we want to say that the son bears the characteristics of the father in the same way Jesus is called God’s son because he bears the characteristics of God the Father. Jesus said “anyone who has seen me has seen the father.”
I see. So we don’t need to interpret son of God as if Jesus was God’s physical son through a union with Mary?
That’s right. Another title of Jesus “word of God” also speaks of his likeness to God. Different religions call their scriptures the Word of God because they believe they contained the revelation of God. In the Bible Jesus is called the Word of God because he IS the revelation of God. Jesus said no one has ever seen God but the one and only son who is himself God has made him known.
If the Son of God is a special title that belongs to Jesus because he bears the characteristics of God, why then does the Bible also teach that all Christians are also called sons of God?
When the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God and that all Christians are sons of God, the meaning is quite different. Jesus said “for God so loved the world that He sent his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Why does Jesus used the words one and only Son when he knows that believers are also called sons of God?
This is because Jesus is telling us that he is the unique son of God that is different in essence from all believers. Christians are called sons of God because we are adopted into God’s family. Jesus however is the unique son of God because he bears the characteristics of God.
You said earlier that Jesus was not called son of God because he was born as a result of a physical union between God and Mary. However doesn’t the Bible say that the Holy Spirit, whom Christians believed to be God, came upon Mary and as a result she gave birth to Jesus?
Yes, you’re right. The bible does say that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and as a result she conceived the baby Jesus. But the Bible never describes this as a physical union between God and Mary.
Then what does the Bible mean when it says the Holy Spirit came upon Mary?
When Mary asked the angel how it was possible for a virgin to conceive a child the angel replied that it could happen because the power of God would come upon her. In other words God would perform a miracle and nothing is impossible with God.
I wonder why God would want to perform this miracle and have Jesus born of a virgin. Was God trying to communicate something to us?
I believe he is? I have often wondered: Adam and Eve came to earth without parents because they were the first human beings created by God. However after centuries of human procreation, why did Jesus have to come to Earth in a unique way through a virgin birth.
Does the Bible explain why this was so?
Yes the Bible says that the virgin birth of Jesus is a sign that God Himself is going to dwell among man. The Bible says “therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
That’s interesting. The Quran also teaches the same thing when it says “we wish to appoint him Jesus as a sign into men and a mercy from us.”
Jesus is both a sign unto men and a mercy from God? We should discuss this another day.
Yes I would like that.