Jesus as God and Man
by Bob Burridge ©2021
The birth of Jesus was an amazing event.
The Second Person of the Trinity took on a real human nature. The Creator entered into his own creation by taking on the nature of one of his creatures.
Jesus had a true divine nature. He had all the attributes of the one true God, and had an eternal place in the Trinity. God’s Divine Nature is summarize in the Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 4: He is “infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”
When Jesus was conceived in Mary, he took on a complete human nature. He had all the attributes of being human which were there when Adam was created. He had a true body that needed food, drink, and sleep. This human nature had a physical beginning being conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit. He developed physically as he matured. Luke 2:40. “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” His suffering and death were real. He also had a true soul making him qualified to represent the human race in atonement and reconciliation.
In his human nature Jesus was like us in every respect except for sin and the corruption it brings. He had no sin nature, no sinful thoughts, and did nothing sinful. 1 Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” 1 John 3:5, “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” This moral perfection of his humanity was essential for his being the perfect sacrifice for us.
We call this amazing combination
of the human and divine,
“The Hypostatic Union”.
The word “hypostatic” (ὑπόστασις, hupó-stasis) is made up of two Greek words. “Hupo” (ὑπό) means “under”. “Stasis” (στασις) means “standing, existence”. Wikipedia defines it as, “the underlying state or underlying substance and is the fundamental reality that supports all else.” It’s the underlying state of Jesus’ nature.
This union is something impossible for us finite humans to fully understand. We only have one nature. There’s nothing in our experience to compare this with. But our inability to understand this union is no argument against it. We can’t possibly comprehend what is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. We are unable to imagine, beyond the statements in the Bible, the nature of a union between such diversities. We need to avoid making up theories which try to create structures beyond the direct inspired words in the Bible.
There are two obvious directions of error.
1. Some blend the two distinct natures into one, and deny their separate realities. If the human nature is deified by union with the divine, it’s no longer a true human nature. If the divine is diminished by union with the human, it’s no longer divine. This confusion of natures is the root of the Eutychian heresy. (Monophysitism)
2. Some divide Jesus into two distinct persons. This is the root of the Nestorian error. They say the human person of Jesus was merely “indwelt” by the divine second person of the Trinity.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism answer to question 22 says, “Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.”
The terminology of the Council of Chalcedon (451AD) gives a most careful statement of the biblical doctrine. The Council said, “Herefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge [one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union,] but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”
This amazing union
didn’t take place in Bethlehem.
The conception took place in Nazareth.
It was there that God’s angel told Mary that her son would be “Son of the Most High”. In Luke 1:30-33 the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Then the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:20-21, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
God also sent a message to the Wisemen who came to Bethlehem and said in Matthew 2:2, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
God also sent angels to appear to shepherds in Luke 2:10-12 saying, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
This goes against those who favor abortion where some say that we become a human person only at birth. Jesus was obviously recognized as a human at his conception in Mary. But he was born without the corruption of his soul in Adam.
Jesus was the “Second, or Last. Adam”. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47, “Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.”
As Adam represented the whole human race in Eden. His sin passed on to all descending from him, Jesus represented those he came to redeem, those chosen by God’s amazing grace.
What a mind-boggling work of God
is displayed in his plan
of redeeming lost humans.
It gives us a glimpse of God’s amazing plan which is central in all human history. Our Eternal God, the one rebelled against by our sinful nature, behavior, and thoughts, became part of this human race to live righteously in our place, and then to die in our place. This was totally undeserved by any of us.
This is what we should be celebrating
While we might enjoy the wreaths, decorated evergreen trees, presents, times with family and friends, our thoughts should be anchored in the amazing miracle that took place back then.
Our Creator, the eternal and perfect God who is Lord over everything, took on our nature. He did this to teach us, then to die in our place so we can be restored to fellowship with God forever, and to make us able to live for His glory every moment of every day while we’re alive here on this Earth.
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)