Day 2: Jesus is the Son of God
Yesus, Anak Allah (Indonesian)
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” – John 1:49
The Batak people in North Sumatra, Indonesia, have surnames linked to their parents’ identity. Even children born abroad can be established as Batak from their names. When we recognise their surname, we assume that they are hardworking and straightforward people. Hence, a surname can reveal a lot about a person.
How about Jesus’s surname? Historically, Jews used Hebrew patronymic names. Their first name is followed by their father’s name. By calling Jesus the Son of God, we should recognise His heavenly origin. However, that’s often not the case. Many Christians still mention it without understanding or belief. If we truly understand this title, it can strengthen our faith and hope in Him. Advent can be a time of enthusiastic preparation if we know that we are celebrating the birth of the Son of God!
Knowing Jesus through His Word
Usually, we get to know someone through shared experiences. It seems unlikely that we’ll form close ties with others from just one encounter. Philip met Jesus once in Galilee, and he immediately accepted Jesus’ call to become His follower. This seems instantaneous, but it really isn’t. Philip, Andrew, and Simon were Jews who read the Scriptures. This was apparent when Philip found Nathanael and told him they had found “the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote” (John 1:45). Their knowledge of the promised Messiah from the Scriptures had them hoping and looking for Him. So, when Nathanael accepted Philip’s invitation to “come and see,” he was able to recognise Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel even though he also knew Him as Joseph of Nazareth’s son (John 1:49).
We see three important realities in these interactions from John 1:35 – 51. First, Jesus is known to us in the Scriptures. Jesus wants us to know Him, and the Scriptures bear witness about Him (John 5:39). Those who looked ahead to His first coming, and we who look back upon His earthly ministry and long for His second coming, are aided in our waiting and watching and living by knowing Him through His word. Advent is a great time to recommit ourselves to reading, studying, and knowing God’s Word. It might mean turning down the noise of movie watching, music listening, and entertainment seeking that can easily overtake our plugged-in lives. But that might mean that we know better this Jesus, the Son of God, and all that He is to us and for us.
Second, Jesus, the Son of God, knows us. Initially, Nathanael was skeptical. He couldn’t believe that the Messiah can come from Nazareth, an insignificant town. But Nathanael’s negative response turned to admiration when Jesus revealed His past. It is Jesus’s prior knowledge of him that convinces Nathanael of Jesus’s identity as the Son of God and the King of Israel (John 1:48-49). God knows the number of hairs on our head and the days marked out for us; He knew us in our mothers’ wombs, and He knows, as verse 51 suggests and the end of the book of Revelation makes clear, the future that He has for us and for the world. In Indonesia, there are people who work as psychics. Some seek their advice because they believe in the psychics’ ability to know their fate. The confidence and comfort for the Christian is not that we would know our fate, but that Jesus, the Son of God, knows and holds our future. His earthly ministry assures us that we can trust Him and follow Him.
Third, knowing who Jesus is should make us eager to introduce Him to others. As soon as Andrew recognized Jesus as the Messiah, he found Simon and brought him to Jesus, too. As soon as Philip was invited to follow Jesus and recognised Him as the one promised by Moses and the prophets, he found Nathanael and invited him to come and meet Jesus, too. As Christians read the Bible less and become less focused on and confident of Jesus’ identity, they become reluctant to evangelize. Advent can be an opportunity to grow. May our Advent reflections not stay private but encourage and inspire us to share the hope we have in Jesus with family and friends, co-workers, and neighbours.
In the midst of poverty, pandemic, disunity, and uncertainty, we can celebrate this Advent and Christmas season because Christ Jesus is the Son of God. He still wants to reveal Himself and invite people to follow.
Rev. Njoo Mee Fang (M.Th) is pastor of Christ Jesus Church in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is program development coordinator for Langham Preaching in East Asia.