Points of Clarification
Good day Gentlemen,
After some discussions with other teachers, I would like to point out some clarifications regarding the topics discussed in class. The clarifications are about the big ideas of the topics about baptism, Old Testament, and some details in the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ.
Baptism of Jesus Christ
Modern day baptism is very different from the baptism done by John. The INTENT of John’s baptism was to CLEANSE and CONVERT people from their sinful lives to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Nowadays, the baptism is an initiation ritual where the newborns’ original sin is washed away and where they are welcomed to the Christian community. Thus, when Jesus, precisely because He was sinless, He changed its meaning from an act of conversion to welcoming a person to a new life in God.
Jesus CANNOT sin
Contrary to what has been discussed in class, Jesus caNOT sin. This is because in class we assumed that “sin” meant “not doing the good or the law.” However, the real definition of sin is turning away from God. Given the second definition Jesus cannot sin because he is God, he is divine. He cannot turn away from Himself now can he? But this does not mean that he did not experience temptation; he did. It’s just that he CAN’T commit sin.
The Role of the Old Testament
Although a good portion of the Old Testament prefigures and prophesized a messiah, not one mentioned the name of Jesus of Nazareth. As Christians, we believe that that Messiah is Jesus. It makes sense that he’s the one because of the consistency between Jesus’ words and deeds and the prophesized messiah promised in the Old Testament. Even if much of the Old Testament talks about a Messiah, this should not downplay the history and struggle of the Jewish people.
Jesus as the Begotten Son
Jesus was not CREATED nor MADE by God, but begotten. Begotten is understood as that which produces an effect (www.dictionary.reference.com). To illustrate, we can say that a child is begotten from a parent or parents (begetter) because there would be no child if there was no parent or parents; and there will be no parent/s if there was no son. This is a bit complicated, I admit, but when we say Jesus is begotten, it’s enough to understand that he was NOT created by God. I will discuss further in the future lessons.
The Big Ideas of the Incarnation
A big idea that we discussed in class is the definition of the incarnation—which is: word-becoming-flesh. There is a motion of going down that’s happening, a sort of self-emptying on God’s part. He has no use for us but he came down to relate with us. He emptied or made space within Himself to accommodate creatures like us. We didn’t do anything to deserve the relationship, the love. His reasons for doing this, for extending himself, for loving us first, we may never fully understand. But what remains blatantly clear is that he truly loved us.
Let me define love in this context, love is allowing the beloved to be (or allowing the beloved to simply exercise his/her freedom). Part of exercising that freedom is the risk of the beloved NOT returning the love that was first extended. In this sense, love is NOT a validation of expectations or a give-me-what-I-want-and-I’ll-give-you-what-you-want agreement; but it is a willingness to NOT be loved back. With this definition, we can say that by giving us the freedom to not return the love that was extended us, God has truly loved us. Simply put, it wasn’t His intention to be loved back, but to be the one who loves.
Another point that needs to be mentioned: God wants to relate with us, to be our friends, because He knows He alone can make us happy, make us more fully ourselves. When we say that in following Jesus, we become more of ourselves, we are talking about experiencing the divine life. The divine life in this sense is the pinnacle of all human experiences—our happiest moments, our greatest triumphs, our sweetest successes, and so forth. Through Christ’s examples—his sermons, parables, miracles, and deeds—Jesus shows us how to be fully human, to be truly happy and satisfied—a satisfaction that not even fame, money, glory, and power can offer. This is the life that God wants us to live and He has sent His only Begotten Son to show us HOW we can reach that life, the life of the divine through human means. Thus, it is this possibility, this life of real happiness, that we turn away from when we COMMIT SIN. This is why sinning is wrong because you are taken further away from living a divine life.
Lastly, I used many metaphors in class to help you better understand the message of the lessons. However, metaphors are approximations and not the message. If we used metaphors in class to describe Jesus and His nature, the metaphors only describe the surface and Jesus and His nature are still very much out of reach for our comprehension. Always keep in mind that if we use metaphors, the object of our discussion (in this case, Jesus Christ) exceeds it.
I hope this clarifies a few things. I’m always available after classes if you want to discuss these things further.
See you in class, Gentlemen.