Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jesus as God, Man, or the God-man?

Do you fully believe the statement that “Jesus was a man and as such could not also be God.”? I partly agree with that statement Jesus was a man, but long before he ever assumed an earthly body he was God. (Jn 1:1, 14) We know from the accounts of his genealogy in Matthew, along with the records of his birth that he was born of a woman, and she was a virgin. Like other men Jesus had emotions, he felt sorrow when his friend Lazarus died, we are told in John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” Jesus also got hungry (Matt 4:2) and thirsty (Jn 4:7). Lastly while he was on the cross he had a Roman soldier puncture his side and spill the blood from his heart sac (Jn 19:34).

As for Jesus’ deity he had it affirmed by multiple sources. On two occasions the Father spoke from heaven, once after the transfiguration (Mark 9:7) and Jesus’ baptism (Lk 3:22), on each occasion he refers to Jesus as His “beloved Son.” Jesus forgave sin, since God is only capable of forgiving sin it points to Jesus deity. He also taught people to pray to him, Mark Driscoll in his book Vintage Jesus says, “If Jesus is not God who does not live forever and is not all –knowing or powerful enough to answer our prayers, then he is nothing more than a cruel sadist for asking us to pray to him in faith.” (Driscoll and Breshears, Vintage Jesus 2007, 25)

Now one of the hardest things for our finite minds to comprehend is how Jesus could be both God and man which has become known as the hypostatic union. People have been challenged by this for centuries but the Council of Chalcedon agreed that “ Thus the two natures (physis), consubstantial (homoousios) with the Godhead in Christ’s divine nature and consubstantial (homoousious) with us as the his human nature, were coalesced in one person (prosopon).” (Elwell 1984,2001, 219) Since God is capable of doing anything when he became incarnate “in flesh” he chose to lay aside some of his divine attributes, the best explanation of this is in Philippians 2:5-11. In his book Doctrine, Mark Driscoll says, “By saying that Jesus “made himself nothing,” Paul means that Jesus set aside his rights as God and the rightful continual use of his divine attributes, with the occasional exception such as forgiving sin…. This does not mean that Jesus in any way ceased to be fully God, but rather he chose not continually avail himself to his divine rights and attributes while on the earth.” (Driscoll and Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe 2010, 231-32)

When Jesus was born he became the only ever God-man, so by him still being God he’s fully capable of forgiving our sins, and by being man he is able to understand being tempted yet without sin (Heb 4:15). Jesus needed to become incarnate because the wrath of God can only be satisfied by blood. In the Old Testament the priest would offer a lamb for the sins of the people, but He being Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, and the great high priest making the intercession on our behalf. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we must be very careful not to down play his deity when talk about him with anyone; in doing so we no longer show him as an all mighty God, but make him into a really moral man. If we over emphasize his deity then he is no longer a personal God who we can have a relationship with because he doesn’t understand or care about our concerns.

One of the largest objections I have ever heard had to be from a Muslim Imam, saying that “there was no way that Jesus could be God because God cannot die.” There are several heretical followings concerning the deity/humanity of Christ or the lack there of. One of which is the Jehovah’s Witness movement that says Jesus is not co-eternal with the Father, but the first of all creation. They also feel that the debt Christ paid removes our original sin but we must work to earn our own salvation. The best response that I can have to these points of view is that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1) and that when he went to the cross he paid the price for me and there is nothing I can do to earn my salvation (Eph 2:8-10).

Christ in his humanity is a great example because he allows me to understand that just as he relied upon the Holy Spirit to accomplish things in his life I must do so as well. Jesus prayed continually for strength and encouragement, and if Him being God prays fervently why should I do any less?

Word Count: 800


Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

—. Vintage Jesus. Wheaton,IL: Crossway Books, 2007.

Elwell, Water A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids,MI: BakerAcademic, 1984,2001.

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