Jesus is Both Human and Divine
The Gospel of John teaches that Jesus is both human and divine:
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with god, and the Word was God.” (Jesus is God)
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.” (Jesus is Human)
The common mistake is to believe that Jesus was half man and half God. Jesus was as fully God as he was fully man. He was not one who simply had the presence of God living within him, he was the second person of the trinity joined to humanity. When Jesus became man he did not become any less God. When he died on the cross and resurrected from the dead he was no less human. Jesus didn’t benefit from his divine nature when he suffered as a man. He chose to experience the intense suffering that a man can feel and a sinless God cannot. He even refused to drink the wine laced with myrrh while he hung upon the cross. He would not allow it to be said that he did not suffer fully and entirely for the redemption of the human race.
Jesus as the second person of the trinity always knew that he would one day become a man. This truth was revealed to men in Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.” He had always been God’s son for all of eternity but there would come a point in time when God’s son would take on humanity and enter the human world through birth to a virgin.
He was just like any other human in every way except one, he never sinned. He was pure and pristine in his holiness. He was tempted as we are, he suffered as we suffered, he felt and saw the effects of sin in the world in which he lived but he never succumbed to the vile yearnings of Satan to pull him into sinful corruption which would have disqualified him as Savior of the world.
Jesus revealed his humanity over and over during his 33 years on earth. He was human when weariness overtook him and he fell asleep in the boat as the disciples feared the coming storm. He was human when he attended a wedding and shared in the joy of the happy couple. He was very human when Roman soldiers captured him and dragged him to the cross and hung him there.
But Jesus demonstrated his full divinity when he was awakened in the boat by faithless comrades and he simply spoke a word to calm the wind and the waves. He proved his divine nature when he turned common water into special wine at the wedding and he proved irrefutably that he was God when he refused to call 10,000 angels to his assistance as he gave himself to die on the cross. His followers knew they were looking at more than a man when they looked upon the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, those who have no understanding of the true purpose and nature of Christ wallow in a mucky swamp of confusion regarding the reason a God would become a human. Could not his willingness to become human be likened to one of us choosing to become a slug or a roach? The descent from God to man was deep and steep but Christ was motivated by a depth of love that only God can experience. The fact that we will never in all of eternity understand it only widens the gulf between our own humanity and his divinity.
He became human so that he could die. His death was desired by the Father and Christ’s purpose was to please the Father. “I have come to do your will, O God.” (Heb. 10:7) The Father requested the death of the son so that any man willing to submit to him might be saved. The angel told the virgin to name her child Jesus because he would “save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus clarified his mission when he told his followers, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto myself.” (John 12:32)
Jesus became human so that he could empathize with us in our suffering. Jesus knew and experienced what it meant to be a man. He was tempted in every way just as we are yet without sin “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” (Hebrews 4:15-16) Jesus was intensely human when he hung on the cross and he sought no divine advantage. It all culminated in his words, “It is finished”. He was saying, “It is completed. My mission is done. I have completed the task assigned by my Father.”
God became human to demonstrate how men are to live holy lives. Again, Christ did not take advantage of his divine nature to live holy. He lived holy through his humanity. He showed us a level of holiness that is humanly possible if only we will submit fully to him and allow him to live through us.
I often look at the younger generation of Christians who graduate from our Christian high schools, colleges and seminaries. I know that all younger Christians lack the maturity that only age and experience can bring. But I worry that they lack an advantage that I had when I was young. I had examples, phenomenal men and women who patterned holiness for me. Mr. Higgins, Mr. Davis and Ms. Myers mean nothing to those reading these words. But to me they were wonderfully, almost impossibly godly and holy. I was inspired and educated as to how a person can live holy before God by those who were genuinely sanctified. Holy people are a rarity in modern culture. Jesus became human to demonstrate holiness to us.
Jesus became a human to teach us the value of human life. We live in a world that cheapens life. We abort the unborn, we live in perpetual warfare, we hide the aged away in cold facilities instead of care for them in warm homes. The fact that God became human gives life great value and meaning.
Martin Luther once told a story of a man who was participating in a worship service and as the congregation sung the words of Christ’s divinity and humanity he refused to cross himself or remove his hat as was the custom in that day. “Then the devil stepped up to him and hit him so hard it made his head spin. The devil cursed him gruesomely and said, ‘If God had become an angel like me and the congregation sang: “God was made an angel” I would bend not only my knees but my whole body to the ground…and you vile human creature, you stand there like a stick or a stone. You hear that god did not become an angel but a man like you, and you just stand there like a stick of wood.” (1).
Jesus became human because he loved us, because he wanted to save us for all eternity and because he wanted to please the heart of a loving Father.
The Gospel of John by James Montgomery Boice, p.31