Jesus is Love
During my secondary school days, the early years, Bishop (now Emeritus) Julius Babatunde Adelakun (of Oyo Catholic Diocese) would visit the St. Francis Catholic College boarding house to spend some time with the “boarders”, his children. During his visits, he cared for me specially because back then, I was always homesick. When he comes around, he would tell us stories and teach us songs. There is this particular song he taught us that I can never forget.
“God is love and he who abides in love
abides in God and God in him.”
I was young then, about 10 years old but that song meant a lot to me. It resounds in my head ‘till today. Then, I didn’t know it is actually a bible passage, I thought the bishop composed it himself because none of the Franciscan nuns taught us anything close.
God is love and he who lives in love lives in God and God lives in him (1st John 4:16b). This passage of the bible is so explicit about who God is. Who is God? God is Love. This is the simplest definition of who God is. Broader definitions will tell us that God is a spirit-being that has control over the whole universe. Some will even say God is a scientific mind that is in charge of all laws of nature. Some say God is Mother Nature and so on. The important thing to know is that whatever definition we give God, love is central. If your definition of God is devoid of love, then you haven’t defined my God.
I was once asked by a Christian turned atheist why Christians talk good of God. He told me God is a wicked being devoid of everything called love and compassion. He quoted from the bible, verses that are, to a logical mind, proves that God is not good. God created Adam and Eve, placed them in a lovely garden planted trees they can eat but tempted them by planting a tree they MUST not eat from its fruit in the same garden. “If you were a father,” he asked me “would you place poison in the same fridge from which your 10-year-old son takes his breakfast every morning”? That is not all; God loved a brother and professed it, and even hated the other brother and professed it. “Can you do that with your kids”? God confused everyone on earth by dishing out different languages to men at the tower of Babel. The tower of Babel was a great achievement from the communal effort of lots of humans and God was not happy with something good humans are doing? God hardened Pharaoh’s heart even when Pharaoh had released the Israelite. God hardened his heart just to kill him in the red sea and show that He, God, is a powerful God. According to my friend, God has been partial, showed lots of favoritism (taken other people’s land and properties for his own people) and so on. This list seems unending. Is God good and can we attribute love to Him?
When I am faced with such questions, I only respond with just one sentence, “Jesus is God”! If Jesus is God, then all good attributes can be found him and no bad attribute can be found him, right? But this time around my friend asked me, “How is Jesus God”? So I did my best to explain to him but we could not finish the conversation that day. Now the question again, IS JESUS GOD?
Other than Christianity, every other religion on earth believes that Jesus is a man sent by God or the gods and that he had a simple mission, bring men closer to God or to the gods. Christianity has a different view; Jesus in Christianity is a savior. Jesus is the son of God almighty. He left his throne as a son in heaven to come down to earth to save mankind. So how is Jesus God?
THE GOD THAT CARES FOR MANKIND
In almost all religion, there exists the story of God sending His son (Usually the only son) to earth either as a savior of mankind or as a helper of mankind. Some religions believe that God is one, has no child but has sent people who are so dear to Him to earth to help mankind find their path back to Him. Let us remember a fact we have established here; All religion believe in a Supreme Being (or supreme power, spirit or presence) we can call God. This God has sent someone, people or even his son to the world to assist mankind in a way or the other. This means that Christianity is not far from every other religion. There is God and there is someone sent by God.
Now in Christianity, the person sent by God is Jesus Christ, who is the only begotten son of the Christian God. This scenario is no different than what we have in all other religion, only that this time, the person sent is a son, the only son. Now this son of God happens to be part of another religion when he was alive (because that is the religion of the community where he was born and Christianity had not even been born then). Jesus Christ learned and even taught others Judaism. He was called Rabbi (Teacher) while on earth and this simply means that he knows and understands the scriptures (The scriptures of the religion of the Jews, Judaism) far better than an average person. There is one particular event in the life of Jesus that specifically pinpoints him as not just a servant, a messenger or even an ordinary child of God. This event took place in Capernaum and is recorded in the Gospels of Mathew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26. The Gospel of Mark records it very well because that is where the name of the town is recorded. The friends of a certain man brought him on a sickbed (they brought him with the bed because he could not stand up) to Jesus. Upon getting to the house where Jesus was teaching, the house is filled up in and out. So the sick man’s friends had to improvise like young men would have done. (Houses in that part of the world do not usually have the typical Nigerian roof of wood and roofing sheet because they barely experience rainfall. In Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and those in that region typically have a concrete rooftop where they even plant crops or make better use of the space above the house)
image: courtesy of https://www.jw.org
JESUS IS GOD
It would have been a not so easy thing to do for the friends of this young man but then, that is not my focus. After they had gone through all the hurdles of letting him down where Jesus was sitting from the rooftop, they must have been disappointed to hear Jesus say “My son, your sins are forgiven”. They have not all gone through that much stress to have Jesus forgive his sins, and in fact, Jesus has no authority to forgive sins as far as Judaism is concerned. Truth is, in Judaism, ONLY GOD can forgive sins. I can even go as far as saying in all religion, only God or the gods can forgive sins. The Bible says in Mark 2:6-7 that some Pharisees (teachers of the law of Moses) that were there that day to listen to Jesus said “How dare he talk like this? This is blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins”. Those Pharisees that day will be like “but Jesus understands the law very well, he can’t make this kind of mistake”. But even if they taught Jesus had made a mistake, he repeated it again in Luke 2:9-11. Jesus said he made no mistake in forgiving the sick man’s sin, but that he only wanted to show the Pharisees that HE HAS AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE SINS. This proves He is GOD!
One can then ask that If Jesus is God, who would he be praying to? Why will Jesus call unto God when he was on the cross at Calvary? In fact, there are several references in the bible where Jesus talked about God and his Father in heaven. Who is that God again? If the God we all pray to is Jesus, then to which God is Jesus himself praying? Well, I want us to search the bible once again thoroughly, there is nowhere in the Bible where Jesus referred to God as “our God” (talking about himself and humans) and neither did he say “our father” (calling God his own father and humanity’s father in the same context of sonship). It never occurred. Jesus would rather say “I am going to your father and my father, to your God and my God”. He, when teaching the disciples how to pray even said: “when you pray, say our father……” He did not say the “our father” in the Lord’s Prayer to mean that we share the same father and we are on the same par of sonship with him (Jesus).
God is a context that we cannot understand because the day we understand Him, he ceases to be God. Seeing God face to face does not in any way mean we understand Him. It is not everything that you have seen, felt, touched or even tasted that you understand. I was told the story of St. Augustine who wanted to understand God (The trinity) in full and was contemplating how there can be three persons in one God by the sea. Looking up, he noticed a small boy with a small spoon carrying water from the sea with the spoon. St. Augustine watched as the boy jugged like a young man to a part of the beach, dug a hole in the ground with his fingers and poured the first batch of the spoon full of seawater in the hole. The boy kept repeating the same thing over and over. St. Augustine watched and grew tired of the boy’s stupidity and walked over to him. “Boy, what are you trying to do” St. Augustine asked the boy and the small boy replied, “I want to use this spoon to drain the seawater into this small hole sir”. St. Augustine then laughed and said, “that is impossible, son”. The boy laughed back and replied, “And you think the books you are reading can help you put all of God in your small mind? Is that not more than impossible”? Then the boy vanished.
I have decided to break this article in two so that it doesn’t look too voluminous.
Please click here to read the second part of this article