THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST
The Son: Forever Fully God
BFM: Christ is the eternal Son of God.
1. It has been well said that unbelievers have stumble over Jesus’ divinity, while believers stumble over his humanity. We should remember that the Bible affirms both.
2. In all his work and ways, Jesus Christ is fully and completely God the Son, eternally, with his Father and the Holy Spirit. He is not the Father, and he relates to the Father as Son, but he is still co-equal, co-eternal, and co-divine with the Father. “There was not when he was not,” as it has been said. The Son has existed eternally as God the Son with both the Father and the Spirit.
3. The Scriptures throughout demonstrate the fact that Jesus is God.
a. The NT consistently correlates Jesus with Yahweh (YHWH in Hebrew), the only true God.
i. YHWH thunders to Moses, “I AM who I AM” (Ex 3:14), and Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I Am!” (John 8:58).
ii. Isaiah 8:13 says, “But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy.” And Peter says, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” (1 Peter 3:15).
iii. In Isaiah 45:23 YHWH says, “To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” Then, in the NT we see that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:10-11).
iv. In Isaiah 40, we see a prophecy of one who will “prepare the way for YHWH” (40:3). In the NT, this person is John the Baptist, who prepares the way for Jesus (Mark 1:1:-3).
v. Clearly, in the NT Jesus receives the worship that in the OT is due to YHWH, the one true God, alone—because the NT exclaims that Jesus is YHWH, come in human flesh.
b. The NT calls Jesus God explicitly in a number of places.
i. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
ii. Paul the Apostle refers to Jesus as “God over all” (Rom 9:5).
c. The NT ascribes to Jesus things that are true only of God.
i. Jesus forgives sin (Mark 2:1-12).
ii. Jesus walks on water (Mark 6:45-52).
iii. Jesus receives worship (Matt 14:33).
The Son: Now Also Fully Man
BFM: In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.
1. There are several important things the point out about the conception of Jesus.
a. God keeps his promises. Immediately after Adam sinned and spiraled creation into rebellion, God promises that the woman will have a “seed”, or “descendent” who will crush the head of the serpent’s seed. God keeps this promise when the Holy Spirit creates human life in Mary’s womb. Similarly, God promised Abraham (Gen 12:7) and David (2 Sam 7) that a seed would arise from each: for Abraham a seed who would be heir of the promised land; for David a seed who would sit eternally on his throne. God kept his promises: Jesus came as the seed of the woman, Abraham, and David.
b. Jesus came “from above.” He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. B.B. Warfield says, “Though true man, therefore, he is not without differences from other men; and these differences do not concern merely the condition (as sinful) in which men presently find themselves; but also from their very origin: they are from below, He from above—‘the first man is from earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven’ (1 Cor 15:47). This is His peculiarity: He was born of a woman like other men; yet He descended from Heaven.”
c. The virgin conception is a crucial doctrine. It indicates that though Jesus is fully man, he is not conceived in the likeness of sinful man. Though Jesus is born as the seed of the woman, Abraham, and David, he is not born as the seed of Adam. Whereas all other human conceptions are in the likeness of the first man, Adam, Jesus is conceived in Mary’s womb by the purifyingly creative power of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this touches on the heart of the profound mystery: “fullness of God in helpless babe.”
2. Jesus took on human nature. Humans are “soul-and-body” (psychosomatic) creatures, a unity which God never intended for ultimate separation. When we affirm that Jesus took on human nature, we affirm that he had both a human body and a human soul.
a. Jesus took on a human body. This means that Jesus was a real, flesh and blood man, with all that humanity entails. When he was whipped, he felt the searing pain in his back in wounds that spilled real blood. He was hungry (Mark 11:12), thirsty (John 19:28), and, to put it delicately, had to go to the bathroom.
b. Jesus took on a human soul. Jesus was not simply God wearing a human suit. He truly experienced life as a man because he truly became a man. He felt human emotions, weeping at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35) and over the rebellion of his beloved Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Calvin says, “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.”
c. This should amaze us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Jesus knows, truly, our human experience.
3. “Yet Without Sin.” The crucial difference (between salvation and damnation!) is that Jesus was truly man, flesh and bone, heart and soul, yet without sin. Jesus triumphed over the sin of the first Adam by living a life in complete obedience. As the BFM says, “Jesus perfectly…did the will of God.” Think of your worst sin, the one you can’t seem to shake. The one you keep asking for forgiveness for; the one you keep promising God you will never do again. The one that pushes you down to your knees with the weight of guilt, over and over and over. That sin, Jesus conquered. He always obeyed God in that way. He never caved in. He never failed. And the beauty of our salvation is that God clothes us in that righteousness of Jesus, after he put that sin of ours onto his beloved Son. It was the only way. And God did it.
4. Jesus’ incarnation continues today. Luke tells us, “As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). As Gerrit Scott Dawson says, “In the same body in which he was crucified, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and in that very flesh he ascended into heaven.” We will discuss this more in the next section on the work of Christ, but it should amaze us: Jesus took on human nature, flesh and blood and soul, and did not shed that humanity. It continues. And one day, we will, by God’s grace, touch his wounds and cry, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:29).