Son of God

by Dr. Michael Whiting, DBU Staff

Day 22 of Advent

Today's Reading

Luke 1:35

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” These were the words the angel Gabriel said to Mary just before he proclaimed to her the astonishing news that she would give birth to Israel’s long-awaited Savior – to carry forward the fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the same angel centuries earlier in Daniel 9:26.

The baby that was to be born to her would be named Jesus, Son of the Most High. 

What makes a son a son? Considering my own twelve-year-old son, Chase, I am reminded of his unique position and relationship to me, and also the likeness that he shares with me.  

Jesus was not the first in history to be called a son of God. Adam is called the son of God in the human genealogy of Jesus traced back to the moment of creation (Luke 3:38). Adam had no human father (or mother) and was created directly by God. He was given, with Eve, stewardship over creation. Further, he was created to reflect the image and likeness of God. But we know that Adam did not live up to this. 

Israel was called the son of God (Hosea 11:1). He brought them into being as scattered tribes and descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He gave them laws and ordinances that they might walk in His ways and make known His glory among the nations. Like Adam, Israel did not live up to this. 

Even Caesar Augustus, the ruling Emperor at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1), was donned the “son of god” by the Romans (as nephew to Julius Caesar who was deified).  How providential it was that Mary received her news of bearing the Son at this very time.    

Later, at Jesus' baptism by John, the Father declared over Him that, “This is My Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). What public approval! Israel had not pleased God as His son, but here the Father was declaring that this was His truest heir and the one who most shared His glory and likeness. In fact, the Son lived in perfect union with His Father. 

Jesus would be a New Adam and a New Israel, the perfect Son of God, the Lord and heir of a new creation with new spiritual descendants to share it with. 

But Mary questioned how this history-making birth would be possible, being a virgin. Gabriel’s answer was that Jesus’ birth would be unique. For the first time since Adam, Jesus would be a child without a human father – created directly and miraculously by God within Mary’s own womb.    

The good news that was given to Mary continued to be spread and this day is a message heard around the world, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16), but it first had to pass through the painful news of forsakenness, suffering, and death. 

By faith, all who are in Christ are now named “sons (and daughters) of God.” Christ is our brother, and we share in the eternal resurrection inheritance that He achieved in His victory over sin and death. This inheritance is nothing less than life eternal in a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness and justice dwell forever. 

Through faith in the Son, we are brought into a new relationship with the Father by adoption. 

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:4-7.

With our new position and inheritance comes responsibility, the responsibility to live in likeness as God’s sons and daughters: “Be imitators of God as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1). 

As we remember this Christmas the coming of the promised Son of God, may we rejoice in our privileged royal position and inheritance with Him by grace. Let us also not forget or make light our responsibility as sons and daughters to be conformed in every way to the likeness of our Father in His Son.