What does it mean to call Jesus the Son of God?

First of all, it should be stressed that Christians believe in only one God and always have. When he was asked which is the most important commandment, Jesus replied, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:29-30.The Injil also says “ For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5. Christians do not believe in more than one God or that God took a wife in Mary (Miriam) and had a son. All of that would be counted as blasphemy in the Christian faith.

What does the phrase “Son of God” mean then? In the Injil, Jesus actually called himself “ Son of Man” more than he called himself “Son of God” and yet both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus had no human father being born of a virgin, Mary. What did he mean by “Son of Man”? We often use the phrase “son of something” to mean that the person is completely like that thing, for example a “son of evil” would be someone who is completely evil and a “son of a donkey” would be a very foolish person. In the same way, “Son of Man” means that Jesus is the representative of mankind and “Son of God” means that he is the representative of God.

The heart of the Christian faith is however that Jesus is not just a man representing God, no matter how miraculously born, but rather that he is God Himself taking human form in order to save us from our sins, for example, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God………..The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:1 and 14. The Quran also calls Jesus “Allah’s apostle and His Word which He cast to Mary: a spirit from Him” Quran 4:171.

This claim to be God was the root of much of the Jewish opposition to Jesus. When he forgives the sins of a paralysed man, the Jewish leaders watching immediately question in their hearts as to how he can do that as only God can forgive sins but Jesus, knowing what they were thinking, says “Which is easier to say, ‘ Your sins are forgiven’, or to say ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins……..” He said to the paralysed man, “ I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Luke 5:23-24. It is easy to say sins are forgiven because no-one can see whether it happens or not but very hard to tell a paralysed man to walk home because everyone will know if the power of God is there to make him well. The man was healed and went home praising God!

Very often, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy for making himself equal to God, for example John 10:31-33;

“Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’

‘ We are not stoning you for any of these’, replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’”

This was also the basis of the Jewish leaders passing the death sentence on Jesus at his trial before their governing religious council, the Sanhedrin. The claim that Jesus is God Himself come into the world to save mankind is made throughout the Injil and is also prophesied in the Old Testament. When the prophet Isaiah proclaims God’s word around 750 BC concerning the coming Messiah, he writes;

“ For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:6-7.

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