Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 16, 2009
When was Jesus' identity as god revealed?
SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
At the presentation of Jesus in the temple, Simeon and Anna recognize Jesus as the promised redeemer for Israel.
They had seen him die and now there was no doubt that he was alive. They knew only God could bring the dead back to life. Therefore, they believed he was God and they began to understand what he had been trying to tell them.
But this isn’t the first clue to Jesus’ identity. Many statements occur much earlier in the Gospels. Even before that, a great number of Old Testament texts point to the coming of the Messiah.
In Luke’s Gospel, the first indication is when an angel announces to Mary that she is to have a son who “will be great and . . . the Son of the Most High. . . . Of his kingdom, there will be no end” (1.32-33).
To the shepherds is announced “to you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour who is the Messiah, the Lord” (2.11). At the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Simeon and Anna recognize Jesus as the promised redeemer for Israel (2.33-38). At the age of 12, Jesus in the Temple is revealed as God by his wisdom and his response to Mary, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (v.49).
We also have the infancy narratives in Matthew where the angel assures Joseph that Mary’s child is of the Holy Spirit and he will save his people from their sins (1.20-21).
The Magi inquire about the location of the newborn king and interestingly, Herod immediately realizes they are referring to the Messiah.
John looks back to the beginning “when the Word was with God and the Word was God (1.1). The Word was active in creation “All things came into being through him and without him not one thing came into being” (v.3). He gave life and light to all: “In him was life and he was the light of all peoples” (v.4). Therefore, the Word was God.
The Gospels tell us that, at Jesus’ baptism, he is revealed as the Son of God by the voice of the Father and the visible image of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist also testifies as to Jesus’ divine origins. During his public ministry, by his miracles, especially raising of the dead, Jesus is revealed as God. In Paul, even non-believers cannot deny the power of God when they see miracles occur.
Although the resurrection is the conclusive proof that Jesus is God, during Advent and Christmas, we focus on the Incarnation with the Son of God taking on humanity as the revelation of his Godhead.
We celebrate Jesus’ birth, showing God to the world, 2,000 years ago. We also celebrate the present with Christ alive in us. And we place our hope in Christ’s Second Coming in the future.
It must have been difficult for the people of his time to recognize that Jesus was God. We have the Gospels and Paul’s letters written very close to the time of Jesus. We have the testimony of early Christians who gave up their lives rather than deny Christ. We have many centuries of the witness of holy men and women who spent their lives in the love and service of God and humanity.
Yet today, there are individuals who proclaim loudly that there is no God, that Jesus never existed and that Christianity is a hoax.
But we have many more who, although they do not loudly proclaim, believe and reveal God by their lives of love of, and service to, God and others. For us, making room in our lives and our hearts for God in our busy world is a continual process and an ever-present reality.
(Sister Louise welcomes your questions. You can email her at email@example.com.)
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