Meditation on Jesus: “Life in Himself”

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (John 5:26).

“Life in himself”… what does that mean? Whatever it is, Jesus has it because the Father has it; and the Father has granted Jesus to have it.

As always, the context of the passage clarifies the mysterious statement. Let’s examine the complete record of the full statement Jesus said:

25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:25-29, ESV).

First, one can notice Jesus is speaking about the resurrection of the dead. Apparent from other passages, the resurrection was a touchy subject in His earthly day (Matthew 22:23, 29-32, 27:52; Mark 12:18, 24-27; Luke 20:27, 34-38; John 5:28-29; Acts 4:2, 17:18, 23:8, 24:15, 26:8; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20:12-13; Daniel 12:2).

Jesus not only affirms the prophetic phenomenon of the resurrection, but also, He makes Himself the source of that resurrection when he says, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.”

Because Jesus is the eternal second Person of the Godhead, He always has had the ability to merely speak, and things come into existence and hold together (Genesis 1-2; John 1; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15-20). That is power, and it certainly is a result of Jesus’ having life within Himself.

SON OF GOD & SON OF MAN

Jesus’ earthly existence also has everything to do with His declaration of having life in Himself. The second Person of the Trinity has always existed. There are many temporal appearances and self-revelations by Him in the Old Testament (John 1:15, 8:58). But, there was a point “in time,” when YHWH took on the labels of the Son of God (John 3:16) & the Son of Man. The second Person of the Trinity became incarnate, robed with untainted humanity. That event brought a new species to the earth, with unique genetics and composition. Hence, He is the Son of God, the “only begotten of the Father.”

The title “Son of Man” is both a prophets’ title (Ezekiel 30:2) and a label, which indicates the human side of the God-Man. At the point the second Person of the Trinity was incarnated, the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, became the first human being to possess the power to create life by His words. Whereas before He exercised that power as a Spirit in Heavenly realms and affecting the temporal realm, now He exercises that power as a human being.

Because Jesus is the Son of God, the Father, He has life within Himself and is able to merely speak in order to raise the dead. He is God. Because Jesus is human—the Son of Man—He was able to atone for the sin of mankind and then be resurrected from the dead by the will of the Father and the Power of the Spirit. In that way, He is the “first fruits of those who sleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Jesus is the highest ranking human, having tasted death only to defeat it, because… you guessed it…. He has life within Himself.What is more, He is the only human to have power enough to grant life again to whomever He pleases. All those in Christ shall rise again!

What is your superpower of choice? For Jesus of Nazareth, it is the power not only to create life with his words but also to bring those who have died back to life again!

Q&A: “How Good Must I be In Order to be Called a Christian?”

A Facebook friend-of-friend recently posted the following:

To be saved a person must stop smoking, drinking, drugs, and cussing. Attend church on a regular basis, and become a born again Christian. Now are you ready to commit to being a Christian? If not then Hell is your destiny…..If you don't believe me, read your Bible. So if you are still cussing like a sailor, or doing drugs, or getting drunk after you read this then you did not commit to being a Christian and you need to quit pretending like you are one. There is more to being a Christian than just saying you are. God bless and have a wonderful day……

Having seen this, the mutual friend to the one who posted tagged me for a response. Here it is:

One time, similar conversation took place within earshot of Jesus. Here is what happened:

"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31; Matthew 9:12 ESV)

So, Jesus presents Himself as a Doctor. If you know you aren't perfectly healthy in relationship with God, then go to the Doctor so he can give you His cure. But, this idea you have to make yourself better before you can be a "Christian," or (worse) that you have no sickness in your flawed human nature, is just stupid.

It is quite a gift Jesus gives us by forgiving us and making us His child—able to partake in His Divine nature. So with that said, the Apostle whom Jesus loved writes this:

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! ….Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this earnest expectation, sourced in Him, purifies themselves, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)

Summary: you can't be good enough to earn merit with God. Turn to Jesus for rescue. AFTER that, you still can't be good enough to repay God or "keep" what you were given (Galatians 3:3). It is a gift. What you can do is live thankfully by aiming for being like Jesus, out of love and because He changed your identity to His child. We can't be perfectly like Jesus on this side of Heaven, but we should want to be transformed into Jesus' likeness as much as we possibly can until then.

We all (especially Christians) have areas of life needing transformation. I have habits and patterns of response… call them addictions, if you will. Everyone has some form of addiction—religious self-righteousness can be an example, as the above person's post reveals. No matter what is our weakness or mortal flaw, the important thing is to stay humbly transparent and keep faith that Jesus is the ultimate Deliverer. Desire to keep a big and open connection with Him! Sheep are safe & fed near the Shepherd; the sick do well when near the Doctor.

Jesus never asked us to "commit to being a Christian." He asked us to turn to Him for rescue!

Question & Answer: Why does God not go about like a superhero rescuing us from danger?

Q: Why does God not go about like a superhero rescuing us from danger?

A: After creation (Genesis 3), mankind chose—contrary to God’s design—to know “good AND evil.” That choice determined the consequential course of this world: danger, sickness, disaster, disease, death. God does not violate mankind’s original choice / free will… nor the course it set us on. He plays by his own rule of having granted mankind a sovereign self-determination. 

BUT, there is another way (besides superhero rescue) that he operates. While he cannot (by His own rule) violate the course of this world or the choices mankind’s free will. He CAN seek to redeem us from the evil we’ve known and done by supplying redemption (at His own cost) and making it a possible choice of our will. And so, God sent His only Son to provide atonement for all the sins of all mankind, including the original rebellion of having chosen contrary to His design. 

Besides this, we do not know how much evil God is holding back or preventing. 

__________________

OTHER RESOURCES:

10 Reasons Why God Does Not Heal Everyone and/or Prevent Evil

Dealing with Loss, Evil, Suffering and Hopelessness

Befitting Rewards: A Theodicy (Parts 1-4)

“Only Begotten:” Taxonomy & the Genetics of the Messiah

Monotheists, who do not believe in the Trinity, staunchly reject the tenet that Yeshua / Jesus is the “Son of God.” To such monotheists, the very notion that God would procreate is absurd.

What is this? God has a son?

On the other hand, trinitarian monotheists see biblical data, which support their belief that Yeshua / Jesus not only is the “Son of God” by personal verbal claim but also by unique birth.

A great focal point of these Trinitarians (of which I am included) is John 1:18, translated by the ‘old timey’ translations as:

18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

(KJV, underscore mine for emphasis)

Other modern translations yield this passage of Greek language as follows:

  • “One and Only Son” – NIV, HCSB, Berean Study Bible
  • “Unique One” – NLT
  • “the Only God” – ESV
  • “the only begotten God” – NASB

As one can witness, the passage presents a deal of difference for translators, not because the Greek language is ambiguous but because theological implications arise, depending on one’s approach to translation. ESV and NASB translators consider it necessary—due to the theological implications of the phrase—to help the text communicate its meaning by adding “God.” Others like HCSB, NIV and NLT stick more closely to the original, reflecting ‘Son.’ But, in an effort to honor the older translations (i.e. KJV), NASB maintains the translation “only begotten,” which it places in tandem with ‘God.’

So, is it proper to translate the passage as “only begotten?” And if so, why? To what end? In his article, Μονογενής = ‘only begotten’? Dr. Daniel B. Wallace recently visited the subject and analyzed the pertinent data in response to Charles Lee Iron’s assertion that translators should return to “only begotten.” The article leads a reader to lean away from “only begotten” in favor of other alternatives.

I largely agree with Dr. Wallace, but I also see room for Iron’s view. “One of a kind,” when the compound mono/GENES is used, deals with the taxonomy of Yeshua (Jesus), His classification upon incarnation (i.e. domain–>kingdom–>phylum–>class–>order–>family–>genus–>species).

Creation scientists use the word baramin to refer to created kinds (Hebrew: bara = created, min = kind). Because none of the original ancestors survive today, creationists have been trying to figure out what descendants belong to each baramin in their varied forms. Baramin is commonly believed to be at the level of family and possibly order for some plants/animals (according to the common classification scheme of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species). On rare occasions, a kind may be equivalent to the genus or species levels.

(Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/what-are-kinds-in-genesis/  retrieved Nov. 24, 2016)

In writing monogenés, the Apostle John is telling us that, due to virgin conception by the Holy Spirit, Yeshua Nazaret is a completely different and unique kind of human creature, the only generation of His kind. This interpretation sustained by textual data (context as well as lexical value & and usages), both inside the holy Writ and in contemporaneous ‘secular’ texts. It also satisfies both Iron’s and Wallace’s findings and allows for (but limits) the logical ramifications of both sets of findings.

What are the theological ramifications of the interpretation? First and foremost, monogenés deals with Christology as it elucidates Yeshua / Jesus’ genome. He is within the human genus due to Mary’s egg & virgin womb, but He is of an entirely unique genetic platform, due to the Holy Spirit’s fertilization. He is the only direct God / Human hybrid, completely similar to yet unique from the rest of fallen humanity.

Trinitarian Creationists would assert that whereas God breathed life directly into the genus of mankind in the beginning, and whereas humanity fell from that state (corrupting our race, even to our genetic code); in contrast, Yeshua’s human genome and human nature are directly and biologically “of God” or “from/of the Father,” …meaning He is  necessarily the same as God, the Father, in His incarnate state. Jesus is—in nature—the same as the Father. No human alive other than Jesus can claim these features. In other words, the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity (i.e. the Word) was made to become flesh and fully dwell among us (John 1:14), as Humanity 2.0—Yeshua Nazaret. He is indeed begotten by means of Holy Spirit conception, but that fact does not diminish His pre-existence from all eternity. As the Apostle John writes:

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 

(John 1:15 NASB)

It is therefore not incorrect to translate monogenés as “only begotten.” By doing so, one refers to Yeshua / Jesus’ miraculous conception. He was indeed and undeniably biologically produced. But, it is also correct to translate monogenés as “Unique One” or “One and Only Son [of God],” as it specially alludes to the fact that Yeshua is the only one of his genomic kind, which according to Isaiah, can be propagated and recognized by the Father:

…He will see His offspring… (Isaiah 53:10 NASB)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

Secondly and lastly, the interpretation holds tremendous theological ramifications that pertain to soteriology. In verses 12 and 13 of John 1, the text reads:

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (KJV)

From these two verses, one gathers that anyone who receives Jesus as the uniquely begotten Son of God, believing on His Name (i.e. referent to his title as Yeshua ha’Mashiach / Jesus the Messiah), will in turn be granted authority (adoptive right) to be titled ‘sons of God’ …after the genus of Jesus, and leaving off the genus of the fallen Adamic race. Yet, more than that, the Apostle writes these are also themselves born “of God,” if in that state of belief. The conferred birth reveals a changed nature (Jesus’) which comes upon those who are, according to Jesus Himself, ‘born again’ of the Spirit (John 3:3-8). Is it safe to say that God rescues and redeems believers down to the DNA level? Absolutely! Those who believe will receive the genetics of the Messiah,

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed (lit. sperma), but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23 KJV)

So then, one may conclude that one who receives Yeshua / Jesus of Nazareth by believing he is the uniquely begotten Son of God receives both an exchange of nature (essence) and an exchange of genus (physicality), both of which can only be fully realized hereafter,

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2 NASB)

He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. (Philippians 3:21 HCSB)

“Just so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)