The God-Man: How can it be?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are many mysteries in life that we don’t understand and likely can’t understand in this life.  The Scriptures uncover some of these mysteries:  Why do the wicked prosper?  Why do the righteous suffer?  Why is there suffering in the world?  While God does explain some of these mysteries, there are many which are left unsolved.   They are not unsolved in God’s mind and in God’s plan, but they are unexplained and unresolved in our finite minds.  We simply cannot understand the ways and the working of an infinite God.  Someday we will likely understand more than we understand now, but until then we must trust in our great God as He carries out His amazing plan.  

There are no greater mysteries than when we begin to study the nature of God.   Not only will we not be able to understand everything about the way that God works, but we also can’t comprehend everything about who God is.  We cannot understand how all of His attributes work together so perfectly.  How can God be both holy and loving, both wrathful and forgiving, both kind and just?  We cannot begin to understand the Trinity, how God can exist in three Persons.  How can God be one God and yet three distinct Persons?  All the illustrations and figures which we may present cannot begin to fully explain the Trinity.  And then we have the mystery of the Incarnation.  What is the Incarnation?  The word means “in flesh.”  When we speak of the Incarnation, we are referring to the truth of God becoming man.  How can one Person be both God and man at the same time? How can God still remain God when He takes on human flesh?  It is this mystery of the God-man that we will now ponder.  

Recently I began a new series on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thus far we have examined two questions:   “How long has Jesus existed?”  and  “Is Jesus God?”  We come now to a third inquiry:  “The God-Man:  how can it be?”  Last month I emphasized the truth of the Deity of Christ:  Jesus is God.  Now we balance this truth with another:  Jesus is both God and man.  God became incarnate. The Word who was God (John 1:1) became flesh (John 1:14).  The child born of the virgin is Immanuel—“God with us” (Matt. 1:23).  When we study the Incarnation—God becoming man—we discover the following truths. 

  • When God became a man, He added humanity but did not in any way diminish His Deity.

Jesus Christ was and is 100% God and 100% man.  He is one Person with two natures:  a divine nature and a human nature.  It is important to realize that He did not become two Persons.  Nor did He become half-God and half-man.  Dr. Charles C. Ryrie stated it well:  “More concisely one may describe the person of Christ incarnate as being full Deity and perfect humanity united without mixture, change, division, or separation in one Person forever. . . . The single Person of the incarnate Christ retained the total complex of divine attributes and possessed all the complex of human attributes essential to a perfect human being” (Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, pp. 247, 250).  Yet Ryrie also acknowledges:  “The concept of the . . . one-person union of the divine and human natures in one Person is probably one of the most difficult concepts to comprehend in theology” (p. 250).  

  • There are several changes which occurred when God became man.

While  God did not change in regard to who He is, several changes did occur during Jesus’ life on earth. 

  • There was a change in where He dwelt: from heaven to earth (John 6:51).

  • There was a change in what He possessed: from riches to poverty (II Cor. 8:9; Luke 9:58).

  • There was a change in how He appeared: from glory to obscurity (John 1:10; 17:5; Matt. 17:1-8) and from the form of God to the likeness of a man (Phil. 2:6-7).

  • There was a change in what He displayed: from equality with God to servanthood (Phil. 2:6-7).

  • There are several demonstrations which display both His humanity and His Deity at the same time.

    • Jesus was weary and thirsty (John 4:6-7), and yet was the water of life (John 4:13-14; 7:37).

    • Jesus was hungry (John 4:2), and yet was the bread of life (John 6:35).

    • Jesus was weary and asleep in the midst of the storm, and yet calmed the raging sea (Mark 5:35-41).

    • Jesus wept with the mourners, and yet raised His friend from the dead (John 11:33-44).

    • Jesus experienced physical and emotional pain (Lk.22:39-44), and yet healed all diseases (Matt.4:23).

  • There were several reasons why God became man.

    • God became man in order to reveal God to man (John 1:18; 14:9; Matt. 11:27).

    • God became man in order to provide an example to believers (I Pet. 2:21; I John 2:6).

    • God became man in order to fulfill the Davidic covenant (II Sam. 7:16; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:30,31,36).

    • God became man in order to die for sinners (Heb. 2:9-13; 10:1-10).

    • God became man in order to defeat Satan (Heb. 2:14; I John 3:8; Col. 2:14-15; John 12:31; 16:11).

    • God became man in order to deliver slaves to sin (Heb. 2:15).

    • God became man in order to develop sympathy (Heb. 2:16-18; 4:14-16).

Though we don’t understand how God became man, we are eternally grateful that He did!  We worship the God-man!

Because of His Grace—Pastor Charlie