Q23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?
A: That because of his nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also, that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death. (Crossway 2017)
Acts 2;24 “God raised him up, losing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (ESV)
The Vertical Truth in Faith – What does this truth mean in my relationship with God?
Our understanding that Jesus was fully human is actually easier to grasp than the truth that Jesus was fully God. This question will once again focus on the fact that Jesus was one person in two natures. The aim is to help further our understanding that Jesus is fully God and why it was necessary for the Redeemer to be fully God. Given the pluralistic air that surrounds us in everyday life, it will be useful to point out that this is where Christianity differs from every other religion that recognizes Jesus. Only Christians believe that Jesus was fully God.
This claim is made completely clear by scripture. Scripture testifies of the Redeemer’s divinity before his birth (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23), during His life (John 1:18; Matthew 26:63-64), and after His death and resurrection (Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus’ divinity is evidenced in the names He possesses (John 5:25; Matthew 22:41-46), the attributes He demonstrates (Matthew 28:18), the works that He performs (Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 11:4-6), and the worship He receives (John 9:38; Matthew 21:14-16). If we believe these things then our relationship with God is made whole, and our salvation sure.
The Horizontal Truth in Love – What does this truth mean in my relationship with humanity?
This reality that Jesus was God in the flesh is critical to our salvation. If Jesus were only a man, born under the lineage of Adam, then his perfect life and obedience would not have been enough to satisfy what God’s law demanded for ALL of mankind. Only an infinitely holy and pure sacrifice could bear the penalty of sin for the entire human race that was, that is, and that would be. Jesus was not only of the lineage of Adam, but he was born to a virgin by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25). His death had infinite value to effectively pay the price for the sin of the world because he was both man and God. And only God Himself could pass through death and bring freedom from it continually (Acts 2:24).
- Hebrews 5:1-5 “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also, Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed…”
- Hebrews 5:7-10 “In the days of his flesh,Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest...”
Practical Truth in Action – How can I put this truth into action?
We should contemplate our sin against a holy and righteous God and then realize that God did not send a third party to redeem us. God came in person for us (John 1:14)! By His sacrifice, God saves us and sanctifies us (Hebrews 10:14). By His authority, God will come again for us (Hebrews 9:28). And because Jesus is God, we will not taste the second death and will live with Him forever (1 Corinthians 15.20-26; Revelation 21:3-4)!
As you and those around you wrestle with this amazing truth that Jesus is both fully man and fully God, here are a couple of questions to consider. Why did Jesus, God the Son, agree to become human and die? Because Jesus’ nature was fully God, and he was perfectly obedient to God the Father, he chose to do the Father’s will. A larger question to consider is this: why didn’t God redeem people another way? This was the only way possible for humans to be freed from sin and brought into a relationship with God permanently. The sacrifice had to be human to fulfill the redemption of humanity’s sin, and the sacrifice had to be God to be able to traverse time.
As you pray, study and think through these questions you may want to jot these two additional questions in your journal. First, how does your understanding that Jesus is fully God affect your desire to seek and worship him? Second, how might you explain that Jesus is one person with two natures to someone in your workplace who has not yet heard about Jesus?
The amazing God who exists and who created all things has made it possible to know him personally through a relationship with his son Jesus. We should thank and praise Jesus for his willingness to leave heaven and his humility in coming to earth to redeem humans in desperate need of him. While we can see Jesus’ nature through scripture, we can only fully know him through having the faith to trust both his human and God nature, and that will lead us to know him personally as our Redeemer.