His Only Begotten Son
Jesus knew exactly what His relationship was with God.
When He heard that the Jews had cast out from the temple the man whose sight He had earlier restored, He found him again and said to him
“Dost thou believe on the Son of God? John 9:35
The man answered Jesus by asking “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? John 9:36
The Scriptures record
“And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.” John 9:37
Do we wish to argue with Jesus Himself? He very clearly said that He is the Son of God. This was no figurative claim. It was very real and it was literal. The blind man was told that the one that had healed him was the Son of God. Quite obviously this man who had been blind would only have understood this in a literal sense. In more ways than one, his eyes were now open.
There is another experience of Jesus where He claimed to be the divine Son of God. This was when He heard that His friend Lazarus was sick.
Jesus said to His disciples regarding that sickness
“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4
Again Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of God. He was clearly not using this title to simply denote the intimacy of relationship that He had with His Father.
Throughout His life on earth, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. This is why the Jews said He was a blasphemer.
Perhaps the best known time is when He said to Nicodemus
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18
Challenged by Satan
Jesus obviously had no problems with His own identity (who He was) but it did concern Satan.
When he came to Jesus, tempting Him to doubt His true identity, he said, “If thou be the Son of God” (see Matthew 4:6).
It was on the point of Sonship that the devil challenged Jesus. Prove who you are he said, prove that you really are the Son of God. This was at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Satan knew that Jesus regarded Himself as the Son of God.
Notice here that Satan said “If thou be the Son of God.
Satan was obviously challenging Jesus to display His powers of divinity. This, according to him, would have proved that He was the Son of God. He was in fact attempting to make Jesus doubt His Father’s testimony. This testimony was that He was the Son of God (Matthew 3:17).
Here can be seen the entire point of Satan’s challenge. He was urging Christ to prove His Sonship, meaning to prove His divinity. If we miss this point we miss everything about the temptation. Obviously the devil never meant these words to be metaphorical (representative of the loving relationship that Jesus had with the Father). This would not make any sense at all.
The testimony of demons
Satan’s fellow angels also knew the identity of Jesus. With their leader they too had heard of the testimony of God the Father (Matthew 3:17).
They said to Jesus
“What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” Matthew 8:29
In His pre-existence, these demons had known Jesus as the divine Son of God. They were the fallen angels. Christ had once been their beloved commander, at least up until the time they had been deceived by Lucifer. Now they were encountering Him in His incarnate state.
The Scriptures also tell us
“And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.” Mark 3:11
This same type of unclean spirit said to Christ
“What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.” Mark 5:7
They also said of Jesus
“Thou art Christ the Son of God.” Luke 4:41
Even in His incarnation, these demons had no problems identifying Jesus. They realised His true identity. Just like all the others we have noted, they did not use this term “Son of God” in any figurative sense. Certainly they were not using this term simply as an expression of God’s love for the Son or the intimacy of relationship that the Father had with the Son. This would be a totally ridiculous conclusion to draw.
This in turn begs a question. If the demons know and confess that Christ is truly the Son of God, then why do not many Christians know and confess it today?
John the Baptist
John the Baptist had said when in discussion with his own followers (here he was making reference to the baptism of Jesus)
“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” John 1:32-33
The one whom God raised up (the voice crying in the wilderness) was to pave the way and herald the first advent of Christ. John claimed that Jesus is the Son of God. There is no reason not to believe that all those who heard John’s claims would only have understood this in a literal sense. John himself had heard the Father’s testimony (Matthew 3:17).
The personal testimony of the Father
The words that Jesus heard His Father speak at His baptism were very precious to Him. This was when the Saviour heard it said in an audible voice from Heaven
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mathew 3:17
What greater testimony could there be than this one? Will we believe it though? Will we take God at His word and believe that Christ really is His Son? We need to remember here that it was a disbelief in God’s word that brought about the first sin in the Garden of Eden.
Not only at the baptism of Jesus was the voice of the Father heard but also at the transfiguration.
The Scriptures record
“While he [Peter] yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matthew 17:5
Christ has always been the Son of God. This therefore was not a position to which He eventually achieved (either at the incarnation or at the resurrection or at some other time during His earthly ministry). It was one that He had held from the beginning with God His Father. This is why John began his gospel with the words
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1
In summary, it must never be said that Christ is the Son of God only in a metaphorical (figurative) sense. The evidence is totally overwhelming that His pre-existent Sonship should be taken literally.