The Son is NOT the Father

UntitledImageJesus only? Jesus told the mother of James and John, that God the Father— not Jesus— determined who would sit on his right and on his left.

Matthew 20:23 (NIV) — “… to sit at my right or left is NOT FOR ME TO GRANT. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared BY MY FATHER.”

Jesus said that he did not have the prerogative to give James and John what they wanted. He declared in effect that while the places had been prepared, he was not in a position to determine who sat at his right and his left. Jesus said that “is not mine to give” (Matthew 20:23). Rather, the Father would give it to those “for whom it is prepared of my Father.”

Jesus is not a mode of God or a manifestation of God; he is the Son.

The point is that Jesus himself makes this distinction between himself and his Father. He distinguished his prerogatives from his Father’s prerogatives. Jesus is not a mode of God or a manifestation of God; he is the Son. He is not the Father; he is the Son.

This is the historic teaching of the Church for the past 20 centuries. We do not have a monolithic single-person god like Allah who has no Son. The Son is the one who “was in the beginning WITH God” (John 1:2). “…the Word was WITH God, AND the Word WAS God” (John 1:1).

To deny that dynamic relationship between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is to deny the “only true God” (John 17:3). It is to deny what Jesus taught about…

  • his Father sending him,
  • his return to the Father,
  • his intercession for us,
  • the Father and the Son sending the Holy Spirit;
  • it is to deny the teaching of the apostles and much of the New Testament.

This is no minor doctrine; it is foundational. To say that Jesus was only a mode or a manifestation is to deny the Son (1 John 2:23).

The Apostle John teaches us that our fellowship is with both the Father and the Son:

“…truly our fellowship is with the Father, AND with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

“Before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33)

Since Jesus is God, can we say that the Son is the Father?

Is the Son of God our heavenly Father?

As we read through the New Testament, it seems that every page answers this question. Here is just one example. Note carefully what Jesus says:

Matthew 10:32–33 (NIV) — “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Jesus speaks of his Father in heaven and of the future judgment when he will acknowledge BEFORE HIS FATHER those who acknowledge him now before others. He will disown BEFORE HIS FATHER those who disown him now before others.

The Bislama is equally clear:

“…bambae mi tu, mi talemaot nem blong hem LONG FES BLONG PAPA BLONG MI long heven… bambae mi tu, mi talemaot LONG FES BLONG PAPA BLONG MI long heven, se hem i no man blong mi.”

Jesus will acknowledge to his Father in heaven all those who belong to him, and he will disown or denounce before his Father in heaven all those have disowned or denounced him on earth.

In that future judgment, there will be a transaction between the Son and his Father whereby the Son’s action of acknowledging us or disowning us will determine whether his Father allows us entry into his heavenly kingdom.

Clearly while the Father is the one true God, and while the Son is also the one true God, the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. Jesus, the Son of God, will acknowledge or disown us BEFORE HIS FATHER on the basis of our relation with him, Jesus the Son.

John 14:6 (NIV) — Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

December 24: The Word Made Flesh

24 The Word Made Flesh

The Word Made Flesh

Advent reading for December 24: John 1:1-14

The Gospel writers anchor the coming of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. Matthew traces Christ’s genealogy forward from the call of Abraham through David (Matthew 1:1). Luke goes further back, tracing Christ’s genealogy backward to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). But John looks beyond Abraham and Adam to a “time” before time.


John’s opening verse reaches back before human history, before the six days of creation, before time itself. John begins his Gospel in eternity past:

John 1:1 (ESV)  —  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Faithful Jews knew that the Scriptures began with the words “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1). Reading John’s Gospel, they would expect the next word to be “God.” “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Instead, in John’s Gospel they read, “In the beginning was the Word.” John goes on to say, “and the Word was God.”

So in the beginning, the Word was. The Word was God. He did not become; he did not come into existence; he already was. He eternally “was” because “the Word was God.”


“In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God.” Yet between those two phrases, John wrote, “and the word was with God.” While affirming the deity of the Word (“the Word was God”), he carefully maintains the Word’s distinct identity by repeating in verse 2, “He was in the beginning with God” (pros ton theon). The Word was in a dynamic face-to-face fellowship with God and yet the Word was God. These two truths John holds in tension: the Word was with God and the Word was God. We must not deny either truth.

Jesus affirms this understanding in his prayer to his Father the night before his crucifixion. He refers the glory he shared with his Father before the world began:

John 17:5 (ESV)  —  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.


Matthew points to the birth of Christ as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise that the child born of the virgin would be called Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). John speaks of the eternal Word who took on himself humanity and became “flesh” that he might dwell among us:

John 1:14 (ESV)  —  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

As we contemplate the meaning of Christmas, we understand that the eternal Word, who was in eternal fellowship with the Father and who came from the Father, took on himself human nature so that through his life and death and resurrection, we too may have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).

December 21: The Lord and His Prophet

The Lord and His Prophet

The Lord and His Prophet

Advent reading for December 21: Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6

Prophets don’t have prophets who announce their coming. We read the calls of certain prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, but nowhere do we read that the prophets had other prophets preparing the way for their coming.

In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, the LORD speaks of two messengers who would come. 

Malachi 3:1 (ESV) — Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

The previous verse (Malachi 2:17) indicates that the LORD is speaking, so the first messenger would prepare the way before the Lord, the messenger of the covenant.

Jesus quotes Malachi to indicate that John the Baptist was the first messenger who prepared the way for Christ, the messenger of the covenant:

Luke 7:26–28 (ESV) — What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John…

“By citing Malachi, Jesus… has shown in what way John the Baptist is greater than a prophet: he is greater in that he alone of all the prophets was the forerunner who prepared the way for Yahweh-Jesus and personally pointed him out.”1

The prophets did not have prophets preparing the way before them. Only the LORD has prophets. Yes, Jesus the LORD had a prophet, John the Baptist, the greatest of all the prophets. John prepared the way for the One who was infinitely greater than himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 307.

December 19: The Son of Man, Human or Divine?

Son of Man

December 19

The Son of Man, Human or Divine?

Advent reading: Daniel 7:9-14

In considering many of the prophecies of the coming of Christ, we have seen recurrent themes of his sufferings (such as Isaiah 53) and his glorious reign (for example Jeremiah 23 and 33). The Apostle Peter wrote of these prophecies which pointed to “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:11).

In the Book of Daniel, we find a most important vision referring to Christ’s favorite title, “The Son of Man.” Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man 82 times in the Gospels. But what does he mean by this title?

It is often assumed that the title Son of God refers to Christ’s deity while the title Son of Man refers to his humanity. In fact, the title Son of Man refers to the incarnation of the One who was made flesh (John 1:14). It refers to Christ’s authority (Mark 2:10-11, 28), his earthly mission (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22), and future reign (Matthew 26:64). It refers to the One who was human and divine, fully God and fully man.

The last time Jesus uses the title “the Son of Man” is when he was brought before the Sanhedrin the night before his crucifixion, the high priest commanded him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Matthew 26:64 (ESV) — Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus explicitly claimed to be the Son of Man who is seated at the right hand of God and will come on the clouds of heaven. In answering the high priest, Jesus quoted from Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man:

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) — “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ, it was revealed to Daniel that one was coming “one like a son of man” who would be “given dominion and glory and a kingdom.” “All peoples, nations, and languages” will serve him. All other kingdoms would pass away, but of his everlasting kingdom “there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:33). 

While we face uncertain days, but Daniel’s vision assures us that we will reign with Christ.

Daniel 7:18 (ESV) — But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

The time will come for us to possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:22).

Daniel 7:27 (ESV) — And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’

We will rule and reign with the Son of Man who is fully human and fully divine.

December 17: The Righteous Branch

Righteous Branch

December 17

The Righteous Branch

Advent reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6; 33:14-18

Disappointed are those who put their hope in the next election. Human leaders ultimately fail to meet our highest hopes and expectations, for like us, they are part of fallen humanity. Sadly, we have come to expect broken campaign promises or the inability of elected leaders to fulfill them. We are outraged when we learn of corruption, exploitation, and the abuse of power and position by those who have been elected to serve. How much worse are the conditions of people who live in totalitarian regimes such as North Korea.

The history of the world is often the story of self-serving leaders who exploit the people they should serve in order to gratify their own selfish desires. Such was the history of Israel, both the northern and southern kingdoms. In Jeremiah 23, the LORD rebukes “the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” (23:1). He warns them, “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD” (23:2).

The wickedness of the leaders leads to the scattering of the flock of Israel, but the LORD promises to “assume the role of the shepherd and gather the remnant of his flock from all the places he had driven them.” 1 The LORD promises to set shepherds over his people who will care for them so that they will not live in fear or be lost or missing.

In fact, he promises a future day when a descendant of David, “a righteous Branch” shall reign as king and execute justice and righteousness. (See Isaiah 11:1-9 and advent reading for December 13.) This coming king will be called “The LORD our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). This promise is so important that Jeremiah repeats it virtually word for word in 33:14-16.

Who is this coming king, this righteous Branch? The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ Jesus is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). It is “by his special work he will impart to men a righteousness not of works but of grace (Eph. 2:8) which will include personal holiness as the work of the Spirit after justification.” 2 The LORD our righteousness is the righteous Branch who will come a second time to reign as king. As we consider the state of our world, we pray with the Apostle John, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”

1 F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations, vol. 16, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 211.

2 R. K. Harrison, Jeremiah and Lamentations: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 21, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 123.

December 14: The Covenant and Light of the Nations

Covenant and Light jpeg 001

December 14

The Covenant and Light of the Nations

Advent reading: Isaiah 42:1-10

Christmas is the story of giving. John 3:16, one of the Bible’s best known verses, tells us:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God gave the greatest gift: God gave his Son.

Isaiah tells us that Father would give the Son as a covenant and as a light:

Isaiah 42:6 (ESV) —…I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,


A covenant is “cut” when a greater and more powerful person established the terms and blessings of a relationship. The “cutting of a covenant” is accompanied by the shedding of blood. God established the covenant with man that whoever believes in his Son and the sufficiency of his work on the cross would have eternal life. The Son is himself the basis of that covenant.

Mark 14:24 (ESV)  —  And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

The Father loved the world and gave his only begotten Son. The Son loved us and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20).

This covenant was to establish justice:

Isaiah 42:1 (ESV)  — …I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Isaiah 42:3–4 (ESV)  — …he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

The cross — the new covenant in Christ’s blood — was the demonstration of God’s love and justice in forgiving sins (Romans 3:23-26). Yet we long for Christ’s return when he will establish justice in the earth (Isaiah 42:4).


God’s gift was not only for the Jewish people; God gave his Son for the nations. Three times in these nine verses (Isaiah 42:1-9), God refers to the nations as recipients of his blessing:

  • “He will bring forth justice to the nations” (42:1).
  • “The coastlands wait for his law” (42:4), which Matthew translates “and in his name the Gentiles will hope” (Matthew 12:18).
  • “I will give you as… a light for the nations” (42:6).

What was the purpose of the light?

Isaiah 42:6–7 (ESV)  —  
“…I will give you as… a light for the nations,  
to open the eyes that are blind, 
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, 
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

God gave his Son as a light for the nations. Jesus, the Light of the world, was given to open our blinded eyes, and to set us free from sin and darkness.

Matthew tells us that Christ’s coming was a fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-2 and 42:7.

so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, 
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 
the people dwelling in darkness 
have seen a great light, 
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, 
on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:14–16)

That Light was Christ, the Light of the World.

John 8:12 (ESV)  —  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

December 13: The Righteous Reign of the Branch

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December 13

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9

Isaiah contains amazing prophecies about the first and second Advents of the Messiah. Having focused on Christ’s First Advent, his birth and incarnation in chapter 9:6-7, he next turns to the Second Advent, Christ’s future reign after his second coming. Isaiah presents him as the ideal king.⁠1 He shows Christ’s fitness to reign, the character of his reign, and the effect of his reign.⁠2


The Messiah would be “a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Though the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah would be cut off because of their unfaithfulness to God, yet a shoot from the stump of Jesse, the father of King David, would become a branch and bear fruit. This again points to the expectation that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David.

Yet it was not his mere biological descent from David that will make him fit to reign. Rather his anointing by the Spirit of the LORD will make him apt to reign:

Isaiah 11:2 (ESV)
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.


Second, Christ’s yet future reign will be one of justice and equity. Possessing perfect knowledge, he will not judge by appearance or hearsay. Instead, he will consistently judge with righteousness, executing perfect justice.

Isaiah 11:4 (ESV)
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

In this present world of injustice, exploitation, violence, and war, we cry out for justice. When will justice ever be served? Justice will be served when Christ returns to reign.


Our Genesis 3 world is a disordered world as a result of Adam’s sin, the fall of man. Relationships are broken or perverted. Everyone knows that things are not right with world, but no one is able to fix it. 

Christ’s reign is called “the restoration” (Acts 3:21). In that day, everyone will know that Christ is King and his reign is one of righteousness.

Isaiah paints this image in symbolic and perhaps even literal terms:

Isaiah 11:6 (ESV)
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

Under the reign of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the world will be a safe place for everyone, and everyone will know the LORD, from the least to the greatest:

Isaiah 11:9 (ESV)
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

The Apostle Paul points to Christ’s second coming and his rule of the nations:

Romans 15:12 (ESV)  —  And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

Yes, in Christ Jesus the Gentiles will hope!

1 Barry Webb, The Message of Isaiah: On Eagles’ Wings, ed. J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996), 74.

2 Barry Webb, 75.

December 12: Jesus Our Immanuel

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December 12

Jesus Our Immanuel

Advent reading: Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7

The Messiah would be both human and divine. He would be both the Son of David and the Son of God. This was clearly what Jesus understood (Matthew 22:41-46. See the Advent reading for December 11).

But how could this be? How could David’s human descendant be divine? How could David’s many times great grandson be God’s own Son?

Seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah announced:

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)  —  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

While this prophecy had symbolic application in its historical context, Matthew finds its greater literal fulfillment in the birth of Christ:

Matthew 1:23 (ESV)  —  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

How would God be “with us”? How would the Word become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14)? How would God become man? By being born of “the virgin.”

Isaiah further prophesies about this virgin-born child in chapter 9.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given; 
“his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

These first three names (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father) clearly point to Christ’s deity, while “Prince of Peace” points to his humanity.[1]


This virgin-born child, “God with us”, was born to reign. Christ’s yet future rule as Prince of Peace is declared:

Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)
…and the government shall be upon his shoulder…, 

Of the increase of his government and of peace 
there will be no end, 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, 
to establish it and to uphold it 
with justice and with righteousness 
from this time forth and forevermore.

The virgin would ask, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34). The prophet had already answered her question:[2]

“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:7).

[1]Geoffrey W. Grogan, “Isaiah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III, Garland David E., vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 529.

[2]Grogan, 529.

December 11: Jesus, Our Divine King and Great High Priest

Divine King 001

December 11

Jesus, Our Divine King and Great High Priest

Advent reading: Psalm 110  

Psalm 110, the psalm most quoted from in the New Testament, begins with this puzzle: 

“The LORD says to my Lord.” Who is God talking to? Who is “my Lord”? Is God talking to himself?

The Jews all knew that the Messiah was the subject of Psalm 110. But why does David, the author of this psalm, refer to the Messiah (the Christ) as “my Lord”?

Jesus asked the Pharisees a question:

Matthew 22:42–44 (ESV)  — … “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.”  

Everyone knew that the Messiah would be “the Son of David,” meaning a descendant of King David. Just days before asking this question, Jesus had been welcomed into Jerusalem with palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9, 15). 

Jesus asked the Pharisees another question:

He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,  “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’?  

It is not normal to refer to one’s offspring as “my Lord.” Why would David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, call the Messiah — his many times great grandson — “my Lord”? He did so because the Messiah would be more than a descendant of David; he would be the Lord, God incarnate, God in the flesh.

So God is talking to himself! “The LORD says to my Lord.” God the Father says to God the Son, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Here we see the distinction of persons in the Godhead. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, and they are not the Holy Spirit, but the three persons are the One True God. “Blessed Trinity!”

These conversations, interactions between the persons of the divine Trinity are found before Christ’s coming, during his time on earth, and after his return to the Father’s right hand.

We see the Father speaking to the Son again in verse 4 of this psalm:

Psalm 110:4 (ESV)  —  The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

The LORD (Yahweh) says to the Son, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Amazingly the Son assumes the role of King and High Priest. He is King, Son of David of the tribe of Judah. He will reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). And under the New Covenant, he is our great high priest (Hebrews 7:12-25). 

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)  —  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

As we wait for the return of our soon coming King, he serves us now as our Great High Priest, the only mediator between God and men.