I’m writing about a creed, a statement of belief.
I have a post about “Jesus Christ, his only-begotten son.” I’ll put it up in a couple days. When I wrote that post on Friday, I was happy with it from a theology perspective, but it sounds like theology. So I’ve been thinking about it through all weekend.
The draft includes John 3:16 (yes, the football verse) and so I started reflecting on John 3, looking for a better way into “only-begotten”. By better I mean easier to understand. More story-like.
John 3 is a story about a religious leader coming to Jesus to ask significant questions. Nicodemus, the leader, showed up to visit Jesus in the evening, away from the crowds. Jesus was fine with that. I think he doesn’t mind private conversations at all, discussions of significant questions before there is any commitment.
As I was thinking through the story on Saturday, I realized that Jesus talked to Nicodemus about being born again, being born a different way. So when Jesus then talks about being an only-begotten son, he’s picking up a theme. I made a note to study that more.
As I was raking leaves on Sunday afternoon, I was thinking through the story again. I was working my way through the born again/only-begotten imagery. Then my thoughts took a jump.
I have often heard people take John 3:16 and personalize it. They take “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” and they exchange “the world” and “whoever” for a name. So it’s like “For God so loved Jon…”
But when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, he wouldn’t have made “the world” personal. He would have made the Son personal: “that He gave me.”