Is Jesus the Son of God? Is He a member of the Godhead? What was His relationship with God? The answers can help us understand God’s plan for human salvation.
The Old Testament gives some hints of the relationships in the Godhead, such as in Daniel 7:13-14 and Genesis 14:18, but the spiritual depth of those words may not have been fully revealed until the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
It is clear from John 1:1 that there were two beings who were called God in the beginning: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
God in the Old Testament
This Word who was with God was the member of the God family who became the flesh-and-blood man Jesus Christ. Although the Old Testament also has references to God the Father (Genesis 1:26; 14:18-20; Psalm 45:7; 110:1; Daniel 7:13), the Word was the Spokesman, the member of the God family whom the patriarchs, prophets and righteous kings talked to, walked with and obeyed.
It was the Word who appeared to and taught Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; who spoke with Cain and Abel; who walked with Enoch and Noah; and who appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. We know this because of Jesus’ own words.
In John 5:37 Jesus said, “And the Father Himself, who sent Me has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.” John emphasizes this same point in John 1:18 and again in 1 John 4:12 stating that “no one has seen God at any time.”
So Jesus said there was a member of the Godhead whom no one had ever seen or heard. On the other hand, Jesus, the Son of God, was the One through whom the creation was made, who talked to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and who was “the light of men” (John 1:3-4; Genesis 3:8-10).
The Bible also describes Jesus’ involvement with Abraham, Moses and David (John 8:56-58; 5:46; Matthew 22:41-45). But we do not know exactly how much the patriarchs, prophets and righteous people knew of the relationships in the Godhead. We do not know what God revealed and what He kept secret.
They did know that the God of Abraham was their Rock and Redeemer (the One who delivered the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage—Exodus 17:6; Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 95:1). But did they realize that the “Rock that followed them” (1 Corinthians 10:4) was Christ—the Word who became flesh—the Son of God?
Jesus reveals the Father
Jesus, the Son of God, said that He came to reveal the Father. “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). This is further explained in John 1:18: “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
No one truly knew the relationships in the Godhead until Jesus revealed the Father. The Father is the Supreme Head of the God family who conceived the Word in Mary as the man Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31-32, 35). From the time that Jesus began to speak about His Father, He began revealing the relationship between Himself and His Father.
After the Feast of the Passover when Jesus was just 12 years old, He lingered in Jerusalem speaking with the teachers there. When His parents came back looking for Him and told Him that they had been anxiously seeking Him, what was Jesus’ reply? “And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’” Luke then records, “But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them” (Luke 2:49-50).
Jesus’ relationship with God the Father
And still today, most people do not understand the relationship between God the Father and Jesus, the Son of God. However, the Jews in Jesus’ day did understand the implication of Jesus calling God His Father. We read in John 5:17-18, “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore, the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath [by their rules, not God’s], but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
On the night of the last Passover that He kept with His disciples Jesus told them, “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
The apostle Paul expressed this same understanding of the subordinate position of Jesus to God the Father in 1 Corinthians 11:3 where he said: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
Paul further explained the relationship of the Father to the Son in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28: “For He [Christ] must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
Jesus referenced His Father over 100 times in the Gospel of John alone. He also pointed the disciples to His Father (and their Father) over and over. Jesus repeatedly emphasized that He came because His Father sent Him (John 5:23, 30, 36-37; 6:39, 44, 57, just to list the first seven references of the 21 times this is stated in John).
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me,” Jesus said in John 4:34, “and to finish His work.”
In John 5:30 we read where Jesus said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” He later described His unconditional approach to His Father, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29).
Jesus, the Son of God, wants God to be our Father too
Jesus spoke this way to point His disciples to the Father. He wanted them to look to Him because of God’s plan for giving them and all humanity the opportunity to become God the Father’s own sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:17-18). He emphasized the Father’s deep love for them—“for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:27).
The apostles learned about God through the relationship that Jesus described to them. He always pointed them to His Father as the Supreme Head of the God family, and He taught them to follow and love God as He did.
“But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do” (John 14:31).
Jesus Christ—the Word who became flesh—revealed the wonderful and perfect relationship that exists between Him and the Father as members of the Godhead—the God family. His Father loves Him; He loves His Father; and through this example, those with spiritual understanding can learn how to love God—and our fellowman—in the same manner!