Who is this Jesus: God, Man, or Both?

And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” -Matthew 8:27

There is so much debate today regarding who Jesus was. Was he a teacher, prophet, good man, or God? Many religions have made attempt after attempt to try and disprove that Christ was the God-Man that He claimed to be. I pray that as you read this you will ultimately come to know Christ, and if not, at least see that He cannot be just a teacher or prophet, but that He was either who He said He was, God incarnate, or He was just a man who sought to deceive so many. I understand that this can be a complicated subject and can lead down dangerous paths, but getting this right is of vital importance. How can someone be man AND God? To answer this question we must look at where the Bible describes both the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ.

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) give us the best description of Christ’s humanity. We see him laying in a cradle, growing up, learning, being subject to hunger, anxiety, doubt, disappointment and finally going to his death and being buried. Here are a few verses describing some of these events:

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry – Mark 4:2

Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. – Matthew 8:24 

Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.- John 4:6

Now I do understand that most skeptics do not have an issue with Christ’s humanity (though some early church heresies did) rather the issue usually revolves around His divinity.  It is overwhelming that the Bible clearly declares the deity of Christ.  In John 18:6, Jesus claims His deity by using the Jehovistic I AM. In Matthew 22:42-45, Jesus claims to be the Old Testament Adonai. Jesus forgave sins in Mark 2:5-7. Lastly, Jesus allowed people to worship Him asserting Himself as deity in Matthew 14:33. Paul would affirm the deity of Christ as he explains Christ’s preeminence in Colossians.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:15-17

One of my favorite scriptures of the Bible affirms that Jesus was God with a claim not from Jesus, but from Peter His disciple by means of the Holy Spirit, it reads,

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah” – Mark 8:29

And the Apostle Thomas left no doubt when seeing the Risen Savior referred to him as “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).

Now you are still probably thinking how in the world is it possible for someone to be fully man and fully God? This is where we get the term Hypostatic union. We teach that Jesus Christ is perfect in respect to godhood, and perfect in respect to manhood. That He is truly God and truly man consisting of a rational soul and a body; that He is consubstantial with the Father as to His divinity, and consubstantial with us as to His humanity, and like us in all respects except the sinful nature.

So why did Jesus have to become incarnate to save humanity?  First we must understand what Christ meant when he stated that He had not come to get rid of the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  The Law of Moses was the determining factor that revealed the righteous requirement of God’s complete holiness. God used the Law as a way to show mankind that no one could fulfill the Law in its entirety and that only He could fulfill the Law completely. So Christ was born into the world, truly man, in that he would suffer and be tempted as all humans are, but truly God in that he would be able to do so without sinning. In the incarnation Christ was not giving up his divine power, rather he was giving up his divine prerogative (Phil. 2:5-11). He then would be sacrificed on the Cross at Calvary as a substitute for us to be the ultimate, perfect, and everlasting sacrifice to cover the sins of “all that the father had given him” being the “lamb without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19).

There are many dangers to overemphasizing or denying the humanity or deity of Christ. The first is that if we deny the complete humanity of Christ we therefore deny the incarnation and are therefore denying salvation.  If we deny the deity of Christ, then either Christ is a liar or lunatic as C.S. Lewis would acknowledge. His death on the cross would be meaningless and all Biblical Christianity would be false.  There are many objections to the traditional orthodoxy view as I have described above, but all of these are condemned by the truth that there is one Christ with two natures. To truly accept Jesus you must accept that He is a being both truly human and truly God who is without confusion, without conversion, without division, and without separation.

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