How does one distinguish between the two distinct people and personalities that result from identical twins? In college I found it hard to know which was which. They laughed the same, walked, talked, ate, and looked the same. If one showed up without the other, few knew them well enough to know who was standing before them. The degree of likeness, one to the other, could not be described any better, or more appropriately than, identical.
When Jesus arrived in Judea, traveling from one tiny village to the next, proclaiming “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel…” [Mark 1:15] the crowds that followed were “…amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” [Mark 1:22]
Maybe the explanation is as simple as this. The scribes, rabbis, and other teachers, while knowing the law of God, continually used other men’s interpretations and ideas when they taught what God was saying through the Law and the Prophets. Since Jesus was, and is God, along with the Holy Spirit and the Father, He was able to speak from original intent, since He was there when the words of the Law and the Prophets were inspired then written. As such, Jesus would quote the original text without the aid of scrolls kept in the synagogues or the Temple. The words He spoke were identical to those written in ancient days.
So when Jesus would begin, “You have heard that the ancients were told… But I say to you…” [Matthew 5:21-22], He was speaking about how the teaching of men erred from the original intended meaning behind each passage He quoted. This alone gave Him the authority to also say, “I and the Father are one.” [John 10:30]
Having spoken these words, it’s easy to see why the Jewish leaders took offense, since there isn’t another way to interpret this statement except Jesus claiming He and the Father are IDENTICAL. Now don’t go so fast here… linger a minute.
Jesus isn’t saying He is “another- like” the Father. Jesus isn’t saying God and the Son are identical twins. The one-ness Jesus is claiming is further captured in His statement to Philip, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” [John 14:9]
One of the spiritual games we like to play seems to be finding an explanation of the Trinity: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three in ONE. This idea is captured in an ancient image, that most of us have no construct from which to assimilate it’s truth. We recognize the second part, but mostly skip completely over the first part. It goes like this…
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]
Even the most simple explanation is mind boggling, because LORD (Yahweh – the proper name used for God) and God (Elohenu – the divine being) are the same. Since both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are invisible to human eyes, it makes it virtually impossible to wrap our minds around the idea of One-ness. So…
Let’s not make this harder than God intended it. In fact, while it may be fun to come up with human images that help us deal with the Trinity of ONE, our focus should be on the most complete revelation of who God is, and what He wanted us to know about Him. And in this case, all we have to do is look to Jesus and see the ONE. He is identical in every way, yet was visible for awhile on the earth, and will one day soon (I hope) reappear on this planet to demonstrate His One-ness. What did this man Jesus say to John the Apostle that He wanted us to know?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” [Revelation 1:8]
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”
Come, Lord Jesus. [Revelation 22:20]