Good afternoon Church.
We have a confession, because there are certain things that are not negotiable in the Christian faith. They help us to not be blown away by every wind of doctrine. They summarize and teach Scripture. They allow us to hold each other accountable. Today we are going to get into another doctrine that at first seems very theoretical and difficult like the doctrine of the Trinity but when you begin to really look at it you realize it has implications for everything in the Christian faith. If Jesus Christ was not perfectly and completely God and Man, then salvation is not a work of God, and it does not save man. It is an empty gesture. The cross is emptied of its power..
To summarize: The two natures of Christ brought the infinite to the finite. The eternal to the temporal. God to humanity. And it did it in such a way that did not diminish God and make him partly human, and did not exalt humanity to be divine, but took humanity to the farthest possible reaches of what it means to be Human. And at the same time exalts God who saved a people for himself, So that in Him we might enjoy the fullness of Humanity.
In Christ God became a man
“We believe that by his conception the person of the Son of God is inseparably united and joined with the human nature, so that there are not two sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures in one single person.” In this point we are going to focus on the fact that there are two persons, and the next point we will focus on the fact that these two natures inseparably found in one person.
So, lets talk about these two natures. First of all, and maybe most importantly these natures are distinct and not mixed. His divinity did not mix with his humanity, nor did his humanity mix with his divinity. This is important. Why? Because if his humanity mixed with his divinity, he would become less then God. And if his divinity mixed with his humanity, he would not be like us in every way yet without sin. He would be some superhuman, not a sympathetic High Priest. He would be neither fully God nor fully man. But we confess him to be both.
The divine nature remains uncreated – without beginning or end – filling heaven and earth, and the human nature remains created – has beginning – is finite – remains a human body. Even today that is the case. His human nature is still perfectly human. He is like us in every way, yet without sin, and now also immortal. HE is the first fruits of a new humanity. HE is the fullness of all humanity, and we will all be clothed in his immortal human nature. We will be like the second Adam not the first Adam. The first Adam was of the dust, the second Adam was from heaven.
Simply put the human nature does not take on divine qualities, like all knowing, and all powerful, and infinite. No. The human nature is completely human and remain 100% human. Still now. As we confess in Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 47, “With respect to his human nature he is no longer on earth, but with respect to his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit he is never absent from us.”
In the same way the divine nature is not mixed with humanity – he does nor did he ever cease to be the eternal Son - all powerful all mighty and eternal - even when he took on the human nature. The human nature did not lessen in anyway his divinity. If it did he would be less then God. Because anytime God is mixed with something else, he becomes less. And then he could not save to the uttermost those who believe in him.
The Bible is clear as to both, As to his humanity he was born of the virgin Mary, he is her son, the fruit of her womb, a descendant of David, sharing in our flesh and blood, like us in all things, yet without sin, growing up as an infant, experienced hunger, thirst, weeping, being moved, furious, suffering, dying. Jesus Came in the flesh. He had bones and a side, head hands and feet, a soul, a spirit, consciousness, and a will. He was total and complete human. Everything that we are he became. Except without sin. So we can confess with an ancient church father, “For the whole Christ assumed the whole me that he might grant salvation to the whole me, for what is unassumable is incurable.” In other words, if Jesus did not become totally human, he could never heal us totally. If God in the person of Jesus was not completely human, then in whatever part he is not human will also not be resurrected or healed.
It was so serious that John could say, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of the ant-Christ.”
As to his divinity, he is explicitly called God, in Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, John 1:1. Jesus himself says he is the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He calls himself the son Of Man, which in Daniel 7 is associated with God. He was all powerful (he still the sea) he was eternal (he existed before Abraham), he was all knowing (he knew who would betray him, he knew peoples thoughts); he is everywhere present (Where two or three are gathered there I am in the midst of them). He is worshiped.
If he was not true God, he could not bear the sins of the whole human race. For only the infinite can bear infinite wrath. Salvation would not come from God. And the whole message of Scripture is that God and God alone can save man. And finally, he could not reveal to us who God is. Because only God can show us who God is? Just in the same way only you can reveal to others who you truly are. If you choose not to, then no one will ever get to know you. This is infinitely truer of God.
If we were to truly know the one and only God on a relational level, he would have to reveal himself to us. If he was only God, and not truly human, or only human and not truly God then there would not be true communion between God and humanity, god and the world, creation and recreation, nature and grace, eternal and temporal. Only in Christ is this true. In his one person. I hope you see why it is so important to believe that these two natures were part of the one person of Jesus. And that they were distinct and not mixed.
The person of Jesus did not exist before the divine nature of the son created him and became him. In that moment in time at the incarnation He took upon himself Human nature. Yes, God in fullness of time became human. In the sense that he became a person. But he was more then a person. He was a representative for a new humanity. So, when Jesus speaks, he speaks as one. Whatever either nature of Christ does, he does as one person. He speaks as Jesus. This is also important – the unity of the two – for if they were not united in him then God never truly reconciled man with God. But in him in an unbreakable fashion man was united to God. Immortally.
And you see this throughout his life., omnipresence and limitation, eternity and time, creative omnipotence, and creaturely weakness.
It is not as if he found someone that was already human and dwelt in him. No, he was conceived. He himself created the human prepared for this task – and took it upon himself or assumed it in his divinity so that he would be both divine and human. The son of God in person of Jesus Christ had a beginning. It was not the beginning of the son – who was from all eternity, but it was the beginning of the person of Jesus Christ. And as Man and God he spoke as one. He did not say: Before Abraham was, my divine nature exited.” Whether it is his divine nature or human nature he speaks as a person: I was. In a similar way when I say, “I will write you a letter.” I do not tell me people “my fingers typed a letter and my toes had nothing to do with it.” So, we can say Christ died for our sins, even though it was his human body that ceased to live and function, it was Christ person who died for my sins.
He was human. He was God. Not just in appearance but in reality. These natures were inseparable. Even in death. Did you see what the confession says,
However, these two natures are so closely united in one person that they were not even separated by his death. Therefore, what he, when dying, committed into the hands of his Father was a real human spirit that departed from his body. Meanwhile his divinity always remained united with his human nature, even when he was lying in the grave. And the divine nature always remained in him just as it was in him when he was a little child. Even though it did not manifest itself as such for a little while.
HE did not only look like a man; he actually became man. As Paul tells Timothy, “There is one mediator between God and man the MAN Jesus Christ. If even one part of his human nature is excluded from communion with God, there is an element of all humanity that remains separate from God, and all of creation is not reconciled to God, but only part of it.
Who is this person we call Jesus?! He was the word that was with God and was himself God who became flesh (john 1). He was the reflection of God glory and the exact imprint of Gods very being (Col 1) who partook of our flesh and blood and became like us in all things (Heb 4). He was as Romans 9 says, “from the fathers according to the flesh, comes the messiah who is over all, God blessed forever.” Though he is the image of the invisible, the firstborn of all creation, he is nevertheless also the firstborn of the dead. Though son of David he is also his Lord, though walking on this earth he continue to be in the bosom of the Father (john 1:18).
He is the suffering servant and yet lord of the church, he relinquished all power, while at the same time having dominion over all things. He was judged as man yet would pronounce judgement over the living and the dead. He was man. Yet he was God.
Also this is important for in Jesus we have paradise regained – the heart of it being communion with God. In Christ we have that perfect communion, without mixing God and man leading to pantheism, or separating God from man leading to dualism, or deism.
What is the point of it all, well it has tremendous implications for creation, and recreation, for salvation, for the extend of our sin.
First of all creation. The incarnation shows the value and importance God places on his creation, particularly his most treasured creature man. That the infinite would become finite. That God lived an ordinary life as a child. That he ate and drank. Gives meaning, shows the value and gives value to every human life.
In terms of recreation: We will be like him. Fully human. In His resurrection he takes humanity to the farthest possible reaches of what humans could possibly be without turning them into God. I.e. mixing the natures. Recreation will be far more glorious then the first creation. WE are not going back to Eden, we are going forward to the New Jerusalem, the city of God. IN Christ humanities resurrected state will not be prone to death like Adam was. But will be immortal like Jesus. We will be clothed with the imperishable, not the perishable. There will be no curse hanging over him, like Adam had in the tree.
IN term of salvation: Just look here at what the confession says, “For this reason we profess him to be true God and true man: True God in order to conquer death by his power; true man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.” By Being God he has conquered death. Only the power which brings things into being from nothing has the power to bring life from death. Only God could bear the sin of the wrath of God. We would have been crushed.
He was true man, because he had to carry our brokenness, to the grave. He had to be like us, for God would never punish another for the sins of man. Adam sinned; Adam would have to pay. The second Adam had to be like the first Adam except for the fact if he was to bear their shame he would have to be perfect. And so he was. He hung naked so that the first Adam could again be clothed. The man Jesus was forsaken, so that man might again be loved. The Man Jesus was judged for sin, so that man might receive grace.
In terms of the sinfulness of sin, it shows us just how evil sin is. That God in the person of Jesus would have to hang on the Cross for our sin. O dear church if you want to really begin to sorrow over your sin, don’t look at how it hurt you, or damaged your other relationships, look at what it did to the Son of God. Meditate on the cross. Let that break every wall of prideful self-righteousness, and allow you to be broken before cross seeing there Jesus one person being God and man. This is why the lords Supper is so vital, it reminds us of sin, and our need for Christ! Pray that we would be able partake soon!
So to summarize, Jesus' two natures are not "mixed together" (Eutychianism), nor are they combined into a new God-man nature (Monophysitism). They are separate yet act as a unit in the one person of Jesus. This is called the Hypostatic Union. Some focus on the divinity and say he was not really human, other focus on his humanity and say he was not really God. The Christian holds them both together.
As this sermon from the 4th century so beautifully puts it:
He hungered yet he fed thousands,
He thirsted yet claimed said, “Whosoever thirsts, let him come to me.”
He was tired, yet he was the rest for the weary
He prays yet hears all prayer
He weeps yet puts an end to all weeping
He asks where Lazarus was laid because he was man, yet raised him from the dead because he was God
He is sold for 30 shekels, yet buys back the world at infinite cost
He died yet he lives, and by death destroys death. Sermon: C. 380