When we were planning what to talk about the first three weeks, we thought that this week we would just try to make it supremely fun and talk about Jesus as the Son of God this week. But that is a big, heavy topic. The more I think about it, the more I think it's hard to grasp what that means unless you have lots of degrees from Bible schools or at least have a background of reading the Bible for years. Lots of people in history were considered a "son of god" ranging from Caesar to Herakles to Alexander (can't call him "the Great"...he was a mean, ruthless, selfish son of a...well you get the point). But they were ALL called this because it was a SELF-ASCRIBED title. People just went along with it to either suck up and leech off their great power and influence or because they were afraid of getting whacked by the centurian or the personal phalanx.
For Herakles (aka Hercules to the Romans), it was a fact of him being mad strong and people just assuming he was from Zeus. But you know that no one actually ever saw Zeus descend from Olympus and say, "Hey everyone, this is my boy. I like him a lot. So dont mess with him. If you do I'll put a lightning bolt in your skull." It was just figurative. We know this because a) its universally accepted that Greek gods were not that powerful b) didn't care about humans c) only used man to profit personally. I think Herakles liked all the attention and the babes that flocked to him (SEE Xena Warrior Princess on UPN for the evidence) so he just went along with the lie. Or maybe he was delusional and thought that he had a crazy dream and truly believed he was a son of a god. But no one else is recorded as a witness to that.
Not like the scene we see in the New Testament in the Gospel according to Mark. Unlike Greek and Roman Myths, the New Testament, although debated often, has universal acceptance among scholars who study it that Jesus was a real person, who existed from around 6 BC-27 AD as a Jewish man in Palestine. Even atheistic scholars would say that Jesus lived and breathed and had a big following of people that would later influence the whole world. More than anyone who has ever lived and breathed.
So when "a voice from Heaven" (Mk. 1:11) says, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" the implications are extensive. You don't see the jealousy of the Greek gods among each other and those who claim to be gods on earth. You don't see the politics of Caesar's similar personal claim. Just a God proclaiming before "the whole Judean countryside and ALL THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM" that this Jesus is valid and is endorsable as his own Son.
Now it could be possible that Mark just made that up like all the Greeks and Romans wanting to have some bones thrown their way by their egotistical ruler. But the fact that he lists so many other people as being present to see this tells me that this book would've been voided on credibility unless there actually were tons of people to see that event. (Side note: historians and scholars also know that John the Baptist existed at that time and was killed for following Jesus...even the non-Christian ones...If his baptism party in Galilee hadn't existed you gotta think people would've cried heresy). This is why Jesus' claim to be the Son of God is so unique.
Anyways, I hope that these things we talk about tonight really allow the students who come and me to better understand who Jesus is. I hope we can really connect on some things with each other as we talk about these things for about 10-15 minutes.