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Your Views: Movie ‘Son of God’ stirs thought about term

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March 8, 2014

The “Son of God” movie is generating considerable interest and raises important questions, including “What is meant by the word ‘son’?”

Jesus himself said God is spirit and so the phrase “Son of God” cannot be understood biologically. In biblical times and sometimes today, the word “son” is used as a metaphor. Jesus said of the Pharisees that any convert of theirs was a “son of hell” (Matthew 23:15). Two of his apostles were called “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Later, we learn that Joseph of Cyprus was renamed “Barnabas, which means son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

So, in the cultural context of the day, “son of … whatever” captured the essential identity of the person involved.

Accordingly, “Son of God,” in reference to Jesus meant he was identifying himself as God. As the movie brings out, when Jesus was on trial before the Jewish high priest, he was asked directly if he was the Son of God. Jesus’ affirmative answer made him guilty of blasphemy, a capital offense based on their law in Leviticus 24:16. It was then, through political manipulation, that Jesus ends up being “officially” sentenced by the Roman governor, Pilate.

In the course of history, many people have been crucified, but because Jesus was who he claimed to be, the Son of God, his death has unique and timeless meaning. As confirmed by his resurrection, Jesus’ death serves as a substitute for all those who personally respond to him with trustful submission.

ROY C. ANDERSON

Janesville



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