“declared to be the Son of God… by His resurrection from the dead” Romans 1:4
Last time, we pondered how the resurrection was the Great Confirmation, affirming everything the Scripture said about Him and all of His words. Now we want to contemplate the rest of this statement by Paul: that it was the resurrection which declared Jesus to be the Son of God… God in the flesh.
Of all the things that were written of Him, of all the things that Jesus claimed for Himself, this is the ultimate.
When Jesus was crucified, the centurion, who had probably been present from the arrest to the death, had watched Him through the whole process. And when darkness covered the land and the earth shook so hard that the rocks split, he confessed, “truly this was the Son of God”.
But what does “Son of God” mean?
The best way to understand this is to look at what the Jewish leaders thought it meant:
And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 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.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. Matthew 26:83-65
First of all, the high priest was equating “Christ”, or “Messiah”, with “Son of God”. In their mind, they were one and the same. And to claim to be the Son of God, was to claim to be “of God”, of the very nature of God. Jesus responded “you have said so”, a common way of saying “yes, and you have said it yourself”, as evidenced by the high priest tearing his robes at this declaration and crying “blasphemy”.
When they brought Him before Pilate, this was their charge:
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” John 19:7
This phrase is not, as some have claimed, something akin to “all we are creatures of God”. The Jews wanted Jesus put to death for this. They rightfully saw this as blasphemy if Jesus were not God in the flesh.
But He was.
The Holy Spirit moved John to write it this way:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14
From the beginning, this title was laid on Jesus by the angel at His birth:
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35
This was God being made manifest in the flesh. There is much more that could be written on this title: “Son of God”, but let’s turn our attention to the life of Jesus for a moment and ponder all the things Jesus did that confirmed His deity:
He forgave sins: Remember when a paralytic was lowered through a hole in the roof by his friends because the crowd was too big to get in? Jesus first told him that his sins were forgiven. The scribes were incensed:
Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming!
Who can forgive sins but God alone? Mark 2:7
The scribes were right. They just didn’t know that Jesus was indeed God and had the right and authority to forgive sins.
He lived a sinless life: One thing we all know about ourselves is that we are not only imperfect, but in the context of God’s holiness, we are deeply sinful. Paul writes “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But Peter, who walked with Jesus for three years, wrote that “He committed no sin” and that Jesus was the “unblemished and spotless” lamb. Paul says that Jesus “knew no sin” and in Hebrews we read that Jesus was tempted in all things, “yet without sin”.
When Jesus was engaged in that difficult dialogue with the Jewish leaders in John 8, He asked His accusers at one point, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” The implication is that Jesus had no sin. For a man to live his entire life without sin would be unthinkable, but to claim to be without sin would be either arrogant and deceitful or it just happened to be true.
Jesus accepted worship: We often read in the Scripture that when an angel appears to someone, they immediately begin to bow down and worship. And the angel’s instant response? “Don’t do that!” Why? Because they weren’t God. You can almost sense fear in the angels that someone would worship them. In fact, in Revelation 19:10, when John falls down and worships an angel, the angel seems to shout at John: “Do not do that!... worship God!” When Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet and began to worship him, Peter yelled “Stand up! I am just a man!”
But, remember earlier, when Jesus appeared to the other women after His resurrection? They took hold of His feet and “worshipped Him”. And Jesus let them. He didn’t rebuke them. Whenever anyone worshipped Jesus, He let them do so. When Thomas declared, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus didn’t tell Thomas that he was getting carried away. He said blessed are those who haven’t seen, yet believe.
When Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would just worship him, Jesus rebuked him,
“Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” John 4:10
Jesus was adamant that the only One who could be worshipped was God Himself. Yet, when Jesus walked on the water in the middle of a fierce storm and then got into the boat with a soaking Peter, the storm immediately stopped and they worshipped Jesus declaring “You are certainly God’s Son!”
And Jesus let them worship Him.
He spoke as if He were God: The prophets of old would say, “Thus saith the Lord”, but Jesus spoke as if He were the authority:
C.S. Lewis made this beautiful comment:
"Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He were God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among pantheists, like the Hindus of India, anyone might say that he is part of god or one with god. There would be nothing very odd about that. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God in their language meant the Being outside of the world who had made it and was infinitely different than anything else. And when you have grasped that concept you will see that what this man said was quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.”
Jesus and the Father had a divine relationship: This, of course, is too familiar to us and therefore has limited impact. But think about someone in which heaven opens up and God speaks saying “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” That might just cause you to think there was something special in their relationship! Jesus said that He only spoke what the Father told Him to speak. In fact, if you take the time and just read the “red letters”, you will find an amazing insight into this relationship. Several times Jesus declared that He and the Father were “one”. This is the intimate relationship that exists within the triune nature of God.
Jesus assumed divine titles: You will hear people say that Jesus never said He was the Messiah nor God, but the records beg differently. Keep in mind, also, that Jesus often used veiled speech with unbelievers. Nevertheless, there were times He was quite clear:
Messiah: When Jesus dialogued with the Samaritan woman, we read this, “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” John 4:25-26
Son of Man: When Jesus used this self-designated title, it was based upon the reference in Daniel. Though prophecy is almost always veiled, it is clear that the “son of man” carried divine attributes:
“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. 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. “Daniel 7:13-14
When Jesus said, speaking of Himself, that “the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10-11) and “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), and “the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61), He was linking this title to deity as did Daniel.
Son of God: We saw this earlier. Jesus was put to death for claiming this title.
Lord and God: When Thomas declared Jesus to be “My Lord and my God!” Jesus did not correct nor rebuke him.
I am: Although some aren’t as convinced, I think there is something significant in the response of Jesus to those who came to arrest Him in the garden. When He asked them who they were seeking and they said “Jesus the Nazarene”, Jesus replied “I am”. When He said this they “drew back and fell to the ground.” I suppose if this were isolated, we might pass it by, but in the light of everything else, it seems to me that this is a clear reference to the great “I Am”, Yahweh. For sure, there was something powerful in those words because it caused the Roman soldiers and the Temple guard to fall to the ground.
Jesus manifested divine attributes: I will leave to you the task of thinking through where these attributes are manifested in the life of Jesus:
And time nor space allow us to speak of the many, many other "audacious" things Jesus said: to pray in His name; if you have seen Me you have seen the Father; before Abraham was, I am; My Father glorifies Me; He who keeps my word will never die; you are from below, I am from above; today you will be with me in paradise…
As C. S. Louis said, these are either the worlds of a liar, a lunatic, or Jesus was, indeed, Lord of all.
Everything points to Lord of all and the resurrection cemented it.
Coming back to Paul’s statement, that Jesus was
“declared to be the Son of God… by His resurrection from the dead” Romans 1:4
we are again struck by the weight of the resurrection. As Berkhof said, “it put the Father’s seal on the completed work of Christ” and it declared His divinity. When Jesus rose from the dead, it was the declaration throughout the universe that Jesus was God in the flesh. Everything makes sense in the context of that declaration and that truth claim… all the miracles, all the words of Jesus, and all the prophecies:
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
And, now, along with Paul, we are
“…waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. “ Titus 2:13