Monday, December 8, 2014

Fully God and fully human

John 1:14 - "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The biblical truth of the Trinity or the triune God (God existing in three completely distinct yet completely equal parts) is a difficult concept to wrap our minds around fully. Another truth that I find equally difficult, if not more so, is the truth that Jesus was at the same time fully God and fully human. The inherent contradictions in the nature of God and the nature of humans make it very difficult to reconciile in my mind the existence of both in full measure in the same person of Jesus.

Examples of key differences between God and humans include:

1. God is eternal, but humans are have a finite life.

2. God is all-knowing, but humans have limited perspective

3. God is everywhere at once, but humans are only capable of existing in their physical location

4. God is sinless by nature, yet humans are sinful by nature

It is this last difference that creates some very interesting yet difficult questions when examining the life of Jesus. Jesus perfectly revealed and carried out the will of God. He did this by taking upon Himself human nature, with all of its faults and weaknesses. By doing so, He identified Himself completely with mankind. Yet He was, is and always will be the only One who lived a life on earth without sin. How can all of this exist at the same time, in the same person, and in full measure?

Jesus’ sinless life came about because of both who He is (God Himself) as well as the choices He made in His earthly life. Because He was fully human, He presumably was created with free will. The Bible says that He experienced temptation yet did not give in to sin. If He experienced temptation, then He was faced with a choice that He could have made – to give in to temptation or not. If He was incapable of making a choice other than to deny temptation, how could it be called "temptation"?

He shows us in a perfect way that temptation and sin can, in fact, be resisted. Jesus led a perfect life of obedience all the way to the cross not because he was a preprogrammed robot who was created in such a way where He lacked the ability to make a choice other than to obey. He freely chose to obey, despite the fact that God’s will was contrary to His own. We need look no further than Jesus' heart-wrenching plea to God in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus expresses that His personal desire was to avoid the humiliation and pain that awaited Him on the cross. Yet He ultimately chose God's will rather than His own. But, wait, if Jesus is fully God, how can we say that God's will was different than itself? Because He was at the same time fully human. Human nature leads to a desire for self-presevation and selfishness. Had Jesus never expressed what any rational human would have desired (to avoid the agony that awaited Him on the cross), we would have serious and legitimate questions about the claim that He was fully human.

Jesus truly is like us, and has experienced what we experience. He chose the path of obedience and brought glory to the Father in the process. We can have confidence in our ability to do the same, not in a sinless way, but knowing that One who knew no sin and therefore was a perfect atoning sacrifice has gone before us. When we sin, we have been reconciled and reconnected with the Father, who graciously forgives us when we repent and turn away from such sin. We have the opportunity to persevere and carry on despite our own sin and disobedience because Jesus persevered and provided us the path to the Father.


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