Matt 4:1-2; Luke 2:52; John 4:4-6; Phil 2:5-8
So I get it. Jesus was—and is—fully God. But what happened at the Incarnation? Was he really human, or did he just look human?
The reason I listed the Gospel passages above is that they unequivocally present him as having human weaknesses. Not sins—he was sinless and perfectly obeyed the Father in everything he did and said and thought. But he was hungry. He was thirsty. He grew in wisdom, meaning he learned things. He grew in stature—this is a fancy way of saying he physically grew from being a baby to a toddler to a child to a young man to an older man. He grew tired: He had a limited amount of energy in his body, and he could exhaust that.
So how is this compatible with him being God in the flesh? Once again I’d like to turn to a creed, specifically the Athanasian. Now, we need to understand that creeds are not the Bible. They aren’t infallible. But here’s what they are: The leaders and teachers of the Church saw that heresy was cropping up. They sat down with the Bible and hammered out their best explanation from the Scriptures as to who Jesus was (and is). And here’s what they came up with:
[Our] Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person.
You might be asking, “But that’s not Scripture!” That’s right, it isn’t. But it’s a good summary of what the Bible teaches about him. They looked at the Scriptures about his being Divine and also at the Scriptures like the ones above and tried to work out some sort of reconciliation. For around 1500 years we haven’t come up with anything better, and most of the attempts to do so fall into heresy.
But by trying to hammer out exactly how his Divine nature and his human nature interact(ed), we can easily get caught up in theological details and miss the important part of this. The Son of God took on human flesh—for me. He squeezed himself down to a human body—for me. He underwent all the indignities—both small and great—on my behalf. He certainly didn’t do all that because he was bored and had nothing better to do.
He’s just as fully human as he is fully God right now, this very moment. If you and I went to Heaven and came to the throne room of God Almighty, we'd see a Man there. He’s freely chosen to unite himself with human flesh permanently. That means he’s united himself to me—permanently. He’s the new breed of human being, but he’s still a human being.
To rescue you and me.
Lord Jesus, this is a mystery in which I’m seriously out of my depth. I want to know you better, but like David I won’t concern myself with things too wonderful for me.
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