Father and Son
Thursday of Pentecost 14
19 September 2019
The Bible is full of exclusive statements about the divinity. The Shema, which is the Apostles' Creed of ancient Israel, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Deut 6:4), is a great example. God the Lord is one. This clear exclusivity was necessitated by the plethora of gods, godlings, and quasi-divine beings that the ancient near eastern culture cooked up as worthy of worship. Like all broken humans the people of the ancient near east found it easy to convert the creation into an object of worship to the detriment of the Creator. The conversion of the creation into an object of worship began in the Garden of Eden when Eve succumbed to the blandishments of a mere creature, Satan, who attributed the energy to confer god-like power to a thing in the creation: the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. It was essential that the people of God make a clear distinction between God and creation.
The unity of God did not preclude the multiplicity of the divine persons in the Godhead. Already in the Old Testament there are indications of the plurality of the persons in the plurals used at creation, "Let us make man..." (Gn 1:26). The Hebrew presumes the involvement and agency of at least three persons in the conversation and the ensuing action. Spirit and Word are named with the Creator at the moment of creation (Gn 1:1-3). The Aaronic benediction names a three-fold blessing given by a thrice-named Lord (Num 6:23-27). Many other similar intimations are contained in the Old Testament. The unity of God, then, is not intended by the divine writers to rule out a trinity of persons in the one Godhead, as is often assumed by false teachers; the modern Arians.
So the unity of God as taught by the Bible requires us to believe that the persons of the Trinity are of one essence or substance, as the Nicene Creed confesses. The divine names of the Trinity also imply their internal relations. While serving in New Orleans, I was often approached while wearing a clerical collar with the address, "Father," on the assumption that I was a Roman Catholic priest. It is not wrong to call a Lutheran pastor "Father" because we are spiritual fathers, but I would always joke with the New Orleanians: "Yes, I am a father. I have two daughters." When they looked scandalized, I told them I was a Lutheran pastor. Since I had children, I was truly a father. Furthermore, I can say without any fear of contradiction that since I am a son, I had a father. So it is for the eternal Son. He eternally had a Father, but unlike human generation His generation was eternal and shared the divine essence with the One who begot Him. When we rightly worship the Father, we rightly worship the Son. When we rightly worship the Son, we rightly worship the Father.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

  Athanasius of Alexandria
"He who looks at the Son sees the Father (Jn 14:9). For in the Father's Godhead is and is contemplated the Son; and the Father's form which is in Him shows in Him the Father; and thus the Father is in the Son. And that propriety and Godhead which is from the Father in the Son, shows the Son in the Father, and His inseparability from Him. Whoever hears and beholds that what is said of the Father is also said of the Son, not as though accruing to His essence by grace or participation, but because the very being of the Son is the proper offspring of the Father's essence, will correctly understand the words, 'I in the Father, and the Father in Me;' and 'I and the Father are One' (Jn 14:10; 10:30). The Son is such as the Father is, because He has all that is the Father's. Therefore, He is also implied together with the Father. For without a son one cannot say father. By contrast, when we call God a maker, we do not of necessity intimate the things which have come to be; for a maker is before his works. But when we call God Father, at once with the Father we signify the Son's existence. Therefore he, who believes in the Son, believes also in the Father. For he believes in what is proper to the Father's essence; and thus the faith is one in one God. He who worships and honors the Son, in the Son worships and honors the Father; for one is the Godhead; and therefore one the honor and one the worship which is paid to the Father in and through the Son. And he who thus worships, worships one God; for there is one God and none other than He.
"Accordingly when the Father is called the only God, and we read that there is one God (Mk 12:29), and 'I am' (Ex 3:14) and 'beside me there is no God' (Deut 32:39 LXX) and 'I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.' (Is 44:6) this has a purposeful meaning. For God is one and only and first; but this is not said to the denial of the Son. Perish the thought! For He is in that one, and first and only, as being of that one and only and first the only Word and Wisdom and Radiance. And He too is the first, as the fullness of the Godhead of the first and only, being whole and full God."

Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 3.6
John 10:22-39

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came - and Scripture cannot be broken - do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. (ESV)
Lord Christ, You have taught us that You are of one essence with Your Father. Help us so to worship You that we might rightly worship Your Father. Amen.
For Michael Koutsodontis, that His gracious Lord would continue to strengthen him and grant him healing
For Anastasia Murray, that she would be freed from her pain
For the ministry of the Memorial Moment, that the author would continue to have the strength to offer God's Word daily so that faith would grow and be strengthened in the world
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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