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The Nature of Jesus -- Human and Divine
The mission in this study is to declare with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:18). We will do this by examining four faith points that introduces us to a perspective of Jesus vital to our understanding of his person and nature. Please take a moment to examine this table that is taken from the book Non-Negotiable: Focusing on the Essentials of the Faith:
This drawing gives a pictorial description of the faith points of Christianity that I see in Paul’s writings to the Philippians regarding the person and nature of Jesus Christ (2:5–11). In the upper part, the essential historical events of the virgin birth and the resurrection give us a view of Jesus from his human perspective. This is required based on Jesus’ need for a body. This statement comes from a conversation that the writer of Hebrews allows us to overhear. It is between God the Father and Jesus. After stating that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, Jesus reflects on his visit with humanity, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body you have prepared for Me” (Hebrews 10:5). Humanity could not relate to full divinity. Jesus had to be like us. Well, almost. He was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15).
Paul confirms this in his statement that Jesus was made in the likeness and of man (Philippians 2:7-8a). The first term, “identifies the “incarnate one” with the human form of appearance, but remains open to a difference in this identity.”1 The second term is also incarnational, holding the idea of outward appearance, form, shape.”2 The Historical Jesus identified with humanity. Look at the way the writer of Hebrews details this great truth. “Since the children (humanity; you and I) share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (Hebrews 2:14). All of us share flesh and blood. It is part of our nature. He shared in the same. The writer uses two different expressions for the idea of sharing. The one used for the children means that we share completely. That is, we have this in common. The word used for Jesus is less intensive, holding the idea of participating in flesh and blood. The reason is simple. While Jesus had a body, he was not captivated by it. It did not hold him captive. The Hebrews passage gives an indication of this by stating that “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). While he would taste of death (Hebrews 2:9), he was not held captive by it. The resurrection dominated death, releasing those whose faith in Jesus’ resurrection assured their power over death.
From a practical perspective, there can be neither human birth nor death without a body. This is because Gods do not die! Of course, these have a divine essence about them but their importance is magnified by the fact that they took place in human history. The incarnation of Christ puts God in our world, and the resurrection assures the believer (therefore, of faith point) of the hope of living in God’s world!
These two historical events are built on the divine essence that Jesus shares with God. It is these that empower the two historical events. Christ in his preexistence, as Paul states “existing in very nature God” (Philippians 2:6), is otherworldly. In the virgin birth, Jesus took “the form of a bondservant and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Regarding the resurrection, Paul told the Corinthians, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:12–14). Paul is building the believers’ hope on Christ’s resurrection. He will state, “The day of the Lord is coming!” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). This promise has been assured by the resurrection of Christ. Thus, his triumphant return is the final faith point on which we build our hope. Paul makes his great summary statement regarding this to the Corinthians: “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
1 Haufe G., “homoiōma,” Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, eds. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), 513.
2 G. Braumann, “Schēma,” ed. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 708.
* This page is an excerpt from is my book Non-Negotiable: Focusing on the Essentials of the Faith. The book goes into more detail on many of these issues.
Last updated 1 September 2015
Person & Nature of Jesus