That’s what was painted on the back of the van that passed me going 85 down the interstate. I think it was a 65 zone. But I digress.
“Jesus is God. Read the Bible.” Of course, it was not enough to have this in English. In the greater L.A. area, it was necessary that this be also in Spanish and four Asian languages that I am not qualified to decipher.
Now before the rant begins in earnest, let me affirm that I believe that Jesus is the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, the preexistent son who came into the world.
Having said this much, however, the connotation of putting such a thing on the back of the van, that “Jesus is God” is the point of the Bible or the linchpin for all Christian belief, strikes me as a parade example of what bad readers of the Bible we Christians can be.
The beasts of Narnia are better here. A current addiction of mine is this line, spoken by Trufflehunter in Prince Caspian, “And we beasts remember, even if dwarves forget, that Narnia was never right except when a son of Adam was king.”
I would go so far as to say that for the vast majority of the New Testament it is far more important that Jesus be human than that Jesus be God.
In the story of God’s redemption of the world, there is a creation God is committed to. That creation includes humanity as God’s representatives, ruling the world on God’s behalf. If the one who rules is not a human, then the powers allied against God win the battle for creation and God loses, giving up on what God wanted.
In the story of God’s redemption of the world, there is a people called to encapsulate God’s plans for humanity as a whole, and restore humanity to the place of God’s blessed children. If the redemption of the world does not come through Israel then the plot is a disaster, the cooping of the Law by sin and death is final, and God loses the battle against the forces allied against him to keep God from redeeming the world through this people.
In the story of God’s redemption of the world, there is a human king who focalizes the calling of Israel to represent humanity as those fulfilling the creation calling to rule the world on God’s behalf. If there is no human, Davidic king to whom God says, “You are my son, this day have I begotten you,” who then defeats the cosmic powers that hindered faithful obedience to God, then the forces of evil win, and God’s plan to work through the king of Israel to make the nations the heritage of God is finally defeated.
And this is why Jesus is the son of man–the man. The human who represents God’s reign to the world. This is why Jesus is the son of David, the son of Abraham. This is why Jesus is the son of Adam who is himself the son of God.
And this is why, when on trial for his life in Luke’s Gospel we see the following:
“Are you the Messiah?”
“From now on the son of man
will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
“So then, you are the son of God?”
To be God’s anointed is to be the man, the human being who is enthroned at God’s right hand, and this, in turn, is what it means to be God’s son. It is to be the king who, like the Davidic kings in Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7, are enthroned to rule on God’s behalf.
So yes, Jesus is God. But when we read the Bible we we get closer to the heart of the story if we start getting our minds around this: Jesus was the man.