Perfectly God – Perfectly Man
The telephone is a most convenient invention. Its use surpasses that of modern means of transportation when comparing bulk, speed and power. Although both telephone and transportation provide connections to meet the needs of commerce and industry, the telephone gives instant connection for personal contact. The phone bridges the gap of time and space to connect us with home, friends or business. All we need to do is to pick up the receiver, and dial.
Concerning the deeper yearnings and vulnerabilities of the heart, these connections provide a lifeline to sanity and peace of mind. It may be hard to believe, but there are many who have neither a telephone, nor a friend to turn to in a crisis or time of need. Overcome with loneliness or despair, the heartaches and burdens weigh heavily with no friend or communication link to depend on.
How many suffer similarly in their spiritual lives? How many continue on alone through life and are burdened, neglected, or ignorant of the benefits of the communication link that bridges the gap between heaven and earth? This link is available to all mankind, and such a connection is sure to lighten life’s burden, elevate the life, and bring us into harmony with heaven. All we need to do is to use the heavenly line God has installed.
What is this communication link? Lesson Number Nine dealt with our part in making the connection through prayer. But what is the actual telephone link connecting earth to heaven, and heaven to earth? Whatever the link, it must perfectly understand man’s plight. What makes such a link – between a sinful dying world and the perfect harmony of heaven – possible?
Let us examine the perfect connection God has provided in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is spoken of as an ambassador or mediator, bridging the gap between God and man. This phenomenon has baffled many Bible students. How shall we classify the nature of Christ, is He human or Divine?
Who is Jesus Christ? Was He just a man, a social worker, a great prophet, or was He God?
Jesus Christ was all of these and more. History confirms His existence and the greatest of all history books – The Bible – records His life. Its pages reveal all we need to know. He has many titles, some of which are: – The Lamb of God (John 1:36), the High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), Kings of Kings (1 Timothy 2:3), Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23), the Rock (I Corinthians 10:4), the Messiah (John 4:25), the Word (I John 1:1), the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5), the Image of God (Colossians 1:15,19).
From the Bible we learn that Jesus was the “Son of God” yet was simultaneously of the “Seed of David” – Divine yet human (Romans 1:1-4). This gives us a complex picture as does His many other titles. They tell us about His character. They tell us “He is God” – our Creator, Guide and Counselor, and also that “He is a man” – Our Brother, Savior and Friend. But let us look a little more closely at this dual nature of Christ.
Jesus is God
The Old and New Testament leave us in no doubt that Jesus is God. In Isaiah 9:6 we are given a picture of a special child, raised for a divine purpose. In Isaiah 43:3, 11, 14, 15 the Holy One’s coming had been prophesied but Acts 3:14, 15 sadly reports that He was rejected, denied and murdered. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23:5, 6. This verse foretells the line through which the King and Judge should come. Even His birthplace and eternal pre-existence was prophesied, “Bethlehem…out of thee shall he come forth…ruler in Israel whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2.
Jesus Christ is called the Son of God. However, our human concept of “son” is the birth of a boy child. But the Bible clearly states that Christ’s pre-existence was not as a created being. The Gospel of John 1:1-3 tells us that the “Word was God” and that “the Word was the Creator”. Verses 14 and 15 then reveal who this Word was – the Son – “the only begotten of the Father.”
Colossians 1:15-19 explains what “begotten of the Father” means. Jesus, who was the image of the invisible God, was “the first born” or “the heir” of every creature because He created them all (verse 16). Begotten refers to the sole heirship of the Son – His preeminence – chiefest, the first in charge, the most important; not a being created of God. Jesus Himself declared He was the “I AM” (John 8:58), a title given by God Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14). As a result the Jews “took up stones to cast at him” (John 8:59), for blasphemy was punishable by death. They did not understand His equality or coexistence with God.
“I and My Father are one.” Jesus put forth the claim that He and the Father were of one substance possessing the same attributes. The worlds’ Redeemer was equal with God. His authority was as the authority of God. He declared that He had no existence separate from the Father.
Once we recognize the fact that Jesus Christ was our Creator, it is inevitable that we must recognize and accept His Divinity. Man was made in God’s image and Jesus also “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8.
Jesus as a Man
Why did the Son of God become the Son of Man? As revealed in previous studies, man’s sin made it necessary for a penalty to be paid. The Son of God offered Himself not only to die for us, but to live for us. The plan of salvation from sin is a perfect plan to make a perfect substitute, a perfect connection – God became man. But why did Jesus take our humanity? Why man’s sinful nature? Hebrews 2:14-18 tells us that He took not the nature of angels but our nature, in order to know and overcome temptation as a man. Then, He could ultimately destroy the devil who had the power of death. John 1:14 says â€œthe Word was made flesh”. The Creator became a man, to redeem fallen man from sin and the condemnation of a broken law.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same”¦ He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:14, 16-18.
In contemplating the incarnation of Christ in humanity, we stand baffled by an unfathomable mystery which eludes comprehension by the human mind. The more we reflect upon it, the more amazing it appears. How wide is the contrast between the divinity of Christ and the helpless infant in Bethlehem’s manger! How can we measure the disparity between the mighty God and a helpless child? And yet the Creator of the worlds, He in whom was the fullness of the Godhead bodily, was manifest in the helpless babe in the manger. Far higher than any of the angels, equal with the Father in dignity and glory, and yet wearing the garb of humanity, the two natures were mysteriously combined, and man and God became one. It is in this union that we find the hope of our fallen race. Looking upon Christ in humanity, we look upon God, and see in Him the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person.
“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12). God’s law is perfect as God is perfect. Satan aimed to discredit this claim. Therefore “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” that Jesus could “condemn sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3,4), and the universe would know that God’s law is just and good and possible to keep. Christ became the perfect example, demonstrating how we too may live in harmony with God.
As much as we must believe that Jesus is God, it is necessary that we believe He was also a man.
Jesus was a man, having experience of our infirmities, “but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”, (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus had to learn as you and I, how to obey, how to overcome temptation. He had to pray for guidance and help.
But – we say – “Jesus was God”, “He would always obey”, “God doesn’t sin”. True, in His Divinity He would never sin but Jesus never at any time used His own divine power to overcome sin. He laid aside His own divinity, thus becoming subject to temptation with the possibility of sinning. His humanity, however, took hold of His Father’s Divinity, and overcame.
“…He that said unto him, Thou are my Son, today have I begotten thee. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.: Hebrews 5:5, 7-9.
His faith reached out to the Father. He lived the life that we must live. He was made our perfect example. This was His divine mission – that He should live as a man in Satan’s domain, but by relying on God’s power, come forth conqueror.
With His human arm Christ encircled the race, while with His divine arm, He grasped the throne of the infinite, uniting finite man with the infinite God. He bridged the gulf that sin had made, and connected earth with heaven. In His human nature He maintained the purity of His divine character. As one commentator expressed it, “He clothed His divinity with humanity”. Jesus showed us by His life, that we can, in our flesh, overcome the devil by the power and grace that God offers us through His Son. Thus in becoming a man, Jesus showed us how we may live above sin as the sons and daughters of God.
Having taken our nature, the Savior has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. â€œFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “…unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder…” Isaiah 9:6. God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven.
Let us often turn to the Lord Jesus Christ our mediator, opening our hearts to Him in prayer. He is a faithful and true advocate who is well able to plead our case before the Father. Will you accept His invitation?