This week we discuss the Person of Christ, while saving the discussion of His work until next week. Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29, and Luke 9:18-20). We begin answering that question by looking at what Scripture teaches concerning His two natures, perfectly united without diminishing or changing either. This makes His work as Mediator possible! Next week we look at that work, today we focus on His incarnation and the perfect union of His two natures, all the while never ceasing to be in perfect union and communion with the Trinity, the Triune Godhead.
Forgive me for being wordy; I am fully aware that if not explained well it is all to easy to slip into heresy–and much of my wordiness is in an attempt to not leave out important details. Sometimes it is what is not included that leads false teachers to their popularity–and leads their hearers away from Christ.
He is eternally the Son, even prior to taking on flesh. He was in the beginning, and was never created; He has always been God the Son. Some will refer to the “persons” of the Trinity, but we must not think about the Persons of the Trinity in terms human personhood, as though each person had a separate center of self-consciousness (see Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, for a lengthy lesson on this!). The Triune God is 3 in 1, 1 in 3; we cannot think of each one without also thinking of the union and communion eternally enjoyed by the three.
Let us look to what is written in Scripture, without attempting to ask for something new.
The Son of God took on flesh, becoming the God-Man. His humanity was not less than ours, it is the same in every way–yet perfect, and therefore able to choose obedience. He experienced temptation in the flesh, yet was not enslaved to worldly desires and passions to which fallen mankind is enslaved.
Join me in this exercise to strengthen your theological muscles! Journal through these passages, selections that are important in knowing who Jesus Christ is, yet understand that this is only a beginning, for the whole of Scripture points to Him! Write these verses out, write your own narration of what they teach, write out some prayers and praises that arise in your heart as you ponder these beautiful truths:
My narration (my ‘recap’)
He became incarnate that we could see and know God, that He could carry out perfect obedience as a human on our behalf. He is the God-Man, born of a woman and conceived of the Holy Spirit. He came in the fullness of time, according to plan (not knee-jerk reaction). His humanity was real, experiencing everything we do yet without sin, He is the perfect second Adam. To see Him is to see the Father, to see God; to see God and live! He is the Light, the Life, the gate–the way to God, the way Home, the way to our eternal rest. He upholds all things by the Word of His power, creating and sustaining all things. Redemption is found in Him alone, the only One capable of facing God’s wrath. He did all the work on our behalf, we enter into communion with Him, we do not work to earn what He freely lavishes on us. The firstborn of all creation (having created everything) and the firstborn of the new creation (having risen from the dead!); He is the One who is not ashamed to call us His brethren.
From eternity God the Son, the Word, was God, fully God, and though He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped and though He took on the form of a servant, taking on flesh, He never ceased to be fully God. In Jesus the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, Jesus had both the nature of Man and of God, without the two mingling, without confusion or corruption of either. As the God-Man He did not have any moments of simply being one nature, and He did not cease from perfect union among the Trinity.
Thus when He obeyed, His obedience was true and acceptable on our behalf; as our representative, as our Head, as the second Adam, as a Man. He was a man who did not choose sin, and His righteousness is what He offers us in the gospel! (1 Corinthians 1:29-31). Understanding His two natures flows from the Incarnation, for we see the Holy Spirit and a human being, Mary, involved in the conception, from the Spirit and from the human, the God-Man has two natures in One Person.
It is very poor theology to try to separate the natures as you read, be wary of teachers who do so.
A Walk Through the Gospel of John
His deity revealed, He manifests or leads out to be seen, the glory of God. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1). In this Gospel you will see ways Jesus displays God’s glory, ways He talks about His diety, ways He shows or speaks of His equality with the Father, His being the One sent by the Father, and then with the Father sending the Spirit. All of Jesus’ “I am” statements reveal His diety, and indeed He claims His works and words testify to His identity as Son of God.
God is love, the Triune God is eternally Love because God is Father, Son and Spirit. The Son reveals this to us. We know that the Father loves us just as He has loved Jesus, the Son of God (John 17:23-26), this is what the Son came to reveal and draw us into!
As you read each chapter of John, look for ways He reveals His deity; this list will get you started:
Miracle at cana to manifest His glory John 2:11
Descended from Heaven John 3:9-15; 6:29-45
Sent by God, Son of God 3:16-18; 6:46, 57; 7:15-18, 28-34
Working continually with the Father, 5:17-19; 5:30;
Worthy of same honor as Father 5:23
Loved by the Father 5:20;
Jesus is the Son of Man, harkening back to OT prophecies, 5:26-27; 6:27, 59-69;
He performs miracles which prove His control of Nature–turns one thing into something else (John 2:1-11), feeds the 5000 men (6:1-14), walks on water (6:16f), heals a man born blind (9:1-12), huge catch of fish where there had been none (21:1-11); and raising a dead man (11:1-11).
John 8:31-end reveals several amazing things about Jesus’ understanding of who He is. Note how He claims His words are from the Father, and are truth. Keeping Jesus’ word means never seeing death–the undoing of the curse, which we know all to well we deserve. Jesus’ word frees us, He speaks and it is done. He claims that His words are the words of God. The Word issues forth, and we abide in His words, and never see death (a lovely topic for another day!)
Name and Titles
His name is Jesus; He is the eternal Son of God, the Word made flesh. He has many titles, the Christ, the Messiah, the many “I Am” statements, our Brother, our Friend, Prophet, Priest, King. If this were a full blown Christology course taught over a semester, I would already have spent much time on John’s use of Logos (which is not Stoic, or gleaned from any other branch of philosophy; it is not a term adopted by apostles , but has roots in the OT), and still much time on all the ways He identifies Himself, and all the prophecies He fulfills. We will touch on some prophecies next week, but cannot cover them all in one brief overview.
The name Jesus was very common during His earthly years, enough so that everyone knew several people by that name. Yet the Son of God was given this name, by the Father’s design:
Matthew 1:21, she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
The name “Jesus” had rich meaning, rooted in the Hebrew Yeshua, “God Saves.” So when we think of the Name above all Names that Jesus is said to be given in Philippians 2:9-11, what name is that? See here, one of my favorite posts, about God’s Name.
Then perhaps journal through these: Acts 4:12 Colossians 3:17
We cannot truly understand the Person of Jesus Christ apart from His work, and vice versa. Jesus performs miracles, He heals from many physical diseases and maladies, but more importantly He forgives sins. When Jesus forgives the paralytic, some are disappointed–they crave inordinately a physical healing; others are disgruntled for only God can forgive sins and they do not yet know God. We need His forgiveness, we need Him to open our eyes (Luke 24:13-35).
Jesus is showing the crowd that He is more than just a man who can heal others, He wants them to know His oneness with the Father; that His work is with the Father and never separate. Forgiving is truly more miraculous. To be known and loved and welcomed and redeemed and renewed by our gracious, compassionate, patient, loving Triune God! And to know that Jesus wants most deeply that we would “Know Him, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent…that we would be with Him, where He is…” (John 17)
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