God the Son
When Jesus was 30 years old he left Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and started to go round the different towns and villages teaching the people about God. It was not long before news of him spread far and wide to parts of the country where he had never been.
Everywhere he went huge crowds used to follow him, not only to listen to him, but also to go and see him perform miracles, that is, to see him do marvellous things. Most of these miracles consisted in making sick people well, though sometimes he brought the dead back to life again. As he went from place to place he healed hundreds and hundreds of people. Some were diseased or paralysed, others were blind or deaf and dumb or lame.
As a result of his teaching and miracles the people said he was a prophet like one of the prophets in the Old Testament. We read that when he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, “…the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee’ “ (NRSV, Matthew 21:10,11).
The disciples, however, saw more of Jesus than anyone else and as time went on they realised he was something more than a prophet.
One evening he asked them to row him over in their boat to the other side of the Lake of Galilee. He had had a tiring day teaching and on the way across he fell asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat. Suddenly, as still happens on the Lake of Galilee, a great storm blew up and before long the boat was shipping more and more water. When they saw the huge waves beating into the boat the disciples became afraid and woke Jesus up. And Jesus “…rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm…And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ “ (NRSV, Mark 4:35-41). In other words, the disciples said “Who is it we have with us in the boat?”
Besides his power over the forces of Nature, there was another strange thing about him which made him different from anyone else. He never did any wrong. Never once did he sin.
One day, after his disciples had now been with him for over two years, he asked them what the people were saying about him. “Who do people say that I am?” His disciples replied that some thought he was one of the prophets of old come back to life. “But who do you say that I am?” asked Jesus. Peter answered, “You are the Messiah” (NRSV, Mark 8:27-29). What Peter meant was that Jesus was the Christ, the great Prophet, Priest and King sent by God for whom the Jewish people had been waiting for centuries.
The Son of God
Now that the disciples had realised that much, the time was ripe for them to be told more about who Jesus really was.
A week later, therefore, while they were still in North Palestine, Jesus took Peter, James and John up into a high mountain by themselves. This was probably Mount Hermon on whose slopes the snow remains until midsummer. There a strange thing happened. Jesus’ whole appearance changed. His face shone like the sun and his clothing became a dazzling white, whiter than the mountain snows. At the same time there appeared Moses and Elijah talking with him. As the disciples watched, a bright cloud came round them and from the middle of the cloud they heard a voice, which was the voice of God, saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (NRSV, Mark 9:7).Then, just a suddenly, the cloud disappeared and they saw no one else any more, except Jesus only with themselves (Mark 9:2-8).
We call this happening the Transfiguration, and from it the disciples learnt that Jesus was not only the Messiah but the Son of God himself. Now they understood why he spoke of God as being his own Father in a special way; why he so often called him ‘My Father’.
God the Son
During the last week on earth Jesus told his disciples that at the end of the world he would come in the skies to judge all humankind, but even then they did not fully realise who he was.
When, however, God raised Jesus from the dead on Easter Day then they understood at last, and St Thomas put it into words, saying, “My Lord and my God” (NRSV, John 20:28).
The disciples now knew that Jesus was God himself who had come into the world he had made, and yet they also knew that he was Man (a human being) as well. As a human being he had been born, as a human being he had known what it was to be hungry and tired and in pain; and lastly as a human being he had died on the Cross.
As the Athanasian Creed says, “The right Faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man”. So we call Jesus, God the Son to distinguish him from God the Father.
1. From his teaching and miracles the people learnt that Jesus was a prophet.
2. The disciples, who had seen him still the storm on the Lake and knew that he was sinless, also learnt that he was the Messiah (Christ), the expected Prophet, Priest and King.
3. God’s voice at the Transfiguration taught them that he was the Son of God.
4. His Resurrection showed them that he was God the Son. So Jesus is both God and Man (a human being).