Meditations in Hebrews 1: 6. Jesus is God
Heb 1:3 the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being
I commented recently that I have been reading R.T.Kendall’s book on wisdom and in it he cites an occasion when he had to rely on that special wisdom Jesus speaks about when we are called before authorities. This time was earlier in his ministry when, as a pastor, he was reported to the denominational leaders for false teaching. And what was that ‘false teaching’? Jesus is God!
Many in the early church were slow to coming to this conclusion and some of us are sometimes loath to give Jesus this glory for we fear detracting from God’s glory. Yet it was not what Jesus himself feared when he said to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (Jn 14:9,10) and then he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (Jn 17:5)
The idea of the Incarnation is one of the greatest of mysteries about Jesus. How could God Himself inhabit a human body? The apostle Paul scrabbled at this when he wrote, “Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself” (Phil 2:5-8) The prophet Isaiah gave us clues about how he would come: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isa 53:2) Somehow God would inhabit a human body, a body that started its human life in the womb of a young woman, and this body would grow as any normal human being and there would initially be nothing of his outward appearance that would mark him out for who he was.
Earlier Isaiah had brought a strange prophecy, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14). Now Immanuel means ‘God with us’, which probably at the time they took to simply mean His blessing was on them, rather than literally, this was God. But then he brings an even more enigmatic prophecy: “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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6) We probably read that every Christmas and so familiar has it become that we lose the incredible meaning; this son will be called Mighty God! There it is in the middle of that familiar verse. This child IS God!!!!!!
We have already briefly commented on the fact that God revealed Himself to Moses as “the I AM”, now recorded in the pages of your Bible in capital letter whenever it is used, LORD. And we also briefly commented about the fact that again and again Jesus used the formula, “I am,” in describing himself.
In various ways Jesus made these claims, for instance, “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (Jn 5:16-18) The apostle John in his Gospel was sure of this: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) If it says nothing else, it declares Jesus’ uniqueness, but the setting suggests he is even more than this. We must wait until near the end of the Gospel for him to declare about Jesus’ works, “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (Jn 20:31) “The” Son, the unique Son. Yet a few verses on in chapter 1 he records, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (Jn 1:18) Perhaps it is an over simplification but the Easy to Read version of the Bible puts it so simply: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son is the one who has shown us what God is like. He is himself God and is very close to the Father.”
Slowly the Church saw it. Our Hebrew writer saw it. The apostle Paul saw it when he wrote, “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Col 1:15) and again in 2 Cor he speaks of, “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4) The same message comes over again and again: this one who appeared in human form was in fact God incarnate.
I have briefly referred to it before but perhaps now we might close with some larger quotes from the so called Athanasian Creed:
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit; the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated; the father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal…. So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet not three Gods but one God….. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten but proceeding….. The right faith therefore is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man. He is God of the substance of the Father begotten before the worlds, and He is man of the substance of His mother born in the world; perfect God, perfect man subsisting of a reasoning soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood.
I hope that helps.