Cur Deus Homo?

One foundational doctrine in the Christian faith is the hypostatic union. This is the doctrine that Jesus had two complete natures. The word “complete” is the keyword here. In other words, He is completely 100 percent God and at the very same time, He is completely 100 percent man. 

Although this doctrine is foundational, the church has struggled with it. Each generation emphasizes one nature above the other and in some cases has badly neglected the other nature. There have been times when the church emphasized Jesus’ human nature bestowing that he is friendly, caring, and easy to talk with at the expense of divine holiness. Today, it is my option that in conservative churches Jesus human nature often takes second place to his divinity. Yet, both of His natures are equally important.

A few years back a young preacher told me he didn’t like a certain Christmas carol because it made Jesus sound too human. Moreover, when singing the carol he asked the congregation to change the words “Son of Mary” to “Son of God”.

But wait. He was human, wasn’t He? In fact “son of man” is what Jesus called himself during his earthly ministry.

Yes, Jesus was completely 100 percent human. Some today, as the young preacher above, fail to admit his humanness because they feel it takes away from his divinity. However, it is very important that He is human otherwise many Old Testament promises were never fulfilled. Moreover, if He was not completely 100 percent human our sins are not forgiven.

Putting these two natures together and fully understanding how it works is difficult. No, I would say it is impossible. However, justifying two divine truths is not necessary for a fallen man. When God’s vastness is hinted of in scripture we often try to get our mind around His great majesticness. It is then that we realize just how small humans are and how finite our wisdom.

1 Timothy 3:16

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit, 
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

This does not mean there are no words to help us. Consider the words of fifth-century theologian Augustine of Hippo on this subject. 

“He (Jesus), through whom time was made, was made in time; and He, older by eternity than the world itself was younger in age then many of his servants in the world; He, who made man, was made man; He was given existence by a mother whom He brought into existence; He was carried in hands which He formed; He nursed at breast which He filled; He cried like a baby in a manger in speechless infancy – this word without which human eloquence is speechless.” (Sermons by Augustine 187 1.1)

This means that as the man Jesus seemed to hang helplessly on a cross, with many witnessing the pain in him, it was by his sovereign will as King of the Universe that the atoms of those nails kept their structure so that the nails remained in place tearing into his flesh to assist with His death. Not only did he manage the atoms of the nails but he gave life to the one that hammered them. Yes, His death was a real human death and He overlooked the birth of a supernova billions of miles away at the same time.

Frankly, that blows my mind. 

Recognizing Christ humanity does not belittle Him but rather it raptures your soul with divine wonder and humble worship of our Lord. When we consider these things we should cry as the Psalmist, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psa. 8:4)

Jim

The Gospel PostScript