More to the story - Week 1

             Part of Jesus being the "Hero of heroes" is that He was God, and yet still chose to serve others. Part of this was His incarnation, God the Son becoming human. We may summarize the biblical teaching about the person of Christ as follows: Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever.

 

The Humanity of Christ


Virgin Birth: When we speak of the humanity of Christ it is appropriate to begin with a consideration of the virgin birth of Christ. Scripture clearly asserts that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit and without a human father.

                  "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:18). Shortly after that an angel of the Lord said to Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:20). Then we read that Joseph "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:24–25).

 

The doctrinal importance of the virgin birth is seen in at least three areas: 

                  1. It shows that salvation ultimately must come from the Lord. Just as God had promised that the "seed" of the woman (Gen. 3:15) would ultimately destroy the serpent, so God brought it about by his own power, not through mere human effort. The virgin birth of Christ is an unmistakable reminder that salvation can never come through human effort, but must be the work of God himself.

                  2. The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. This was the means God used to send his Son (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4) into the world as a man. If we think for a moment of other possible ways in which Christ might have come to the earth, none of them would so clearly unite humanity and deity in one person. It probably would have been possible for God to create Jesus as a complete human being in heaven and send him to descend from heaven to earth without the benefit of any human parent. But then it would have been very hard for us to see how Jesus could be fully human as we are, nor would he be a part of the human race that physically descended from Adam. On the other hand, it probably would have been possible for God to have Jesus come into the world with two human parents, both a father and a mother, and with his full divine nature miraculously united to his human nature at some point early in his life. But then it would have been hard for us to understand how Jesus was fully God, since his origin was like ours in every way. When we think of these two other possibilities, it helps us to understand how God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would be evident from the fact of his conception in Mary's womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. 

                  3. The virgin birth also makes possible Christ's true humanity without inherited sin. All human beings have inherited legal guilt and a corrupt moral nature from their first father, Adam (this is sometimes called "inherited sin or "original sin"). But the fact that Jesus did not have a human father means that the line of descent from Adam is partially interrupted. Jesus did not descend from Adam in exactly the same way in which every other human being has descended from Adam. And this helps us to understand why the legal guilt and moral corruption that belongs to all other human beings did not belong to Christ. 

                  This idea seems to be indicated in the statement of the angel Gabriel to Mary, where he says to her,

 

                  "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, 

                                    and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;

                   therefore the child to be born will be called holy

                                    the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

 

Because the Spirit brought about the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary, the child was to be called "holy.”  Such a conclusion should not be taken to mean that the transmission of sin comes only through the father, for Scripture nowhere makes such an assertion. It is enough for us merely to say that in this case the unbroken line of descent from Adam was interrupted, and Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 connects this conception by the Holy Spirit with the holiness or moral purity of Christ, and reflection on that fact allows us to understand that through the absence of a human father, Jesus was not fully descended from Adam, and that this break in the line of descent was the method God used to bring it about that Jesus was fully human yet did not share inherited sin from Adam. 


The Deity of Christ

 

Direct Scriptural Claims: We will examine direct statements of Scripture that Jesus is God or that he is divine.

 

The Word God (Theos) Used of Christ: Although the word theos,"God," is usually reserved in the New Testament for God the Father, nonetheless, there are several passages where it is also used to refer to Jesus Christ. In all of these passages the word “God” is used in the strong sense to refer to the one who is the Creator of heaven and earth, the ruler over all. These passages include John 1:1; 1:18 (in older and better manuscripts); 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8 (quoting Ps. 45:6); and 2 Peter 1:1.

                  One Old Testament example of the name God applied to Christ is seen in a familiar messianic passage: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God...’ “(Isa. 9:6).

 

The Word Lord (Kyrios) Used of Christ: Sometimes the word Lord (Gk. kyrios) is used simply as a polite address to a superior, roughly equivalent to our word sir (see Matt. 13:27; 21:30; 27:63; John 4:11). Sometimes it can simply mean “master” of a servant or slave (Matt. 6:24; 21:40). Yet the same word is also used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was commonly used at the time of Christ) as a translation for the Hebrew yhwh, “Yahweh,” or (as it is frequently translated) “the LORD,” or “Jehovah.” The word kyrios is used to translate the name of the Lord 6,814 times in the Greek Old Testament. Therefore, any Greek-speaking reader at the time of the New Testament who had any knowledge at all of the Greek Old Testament would have recognized that, in contexts where it was appropriate, the word “Lord” was the name of the one who was the Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth, the omnipotent God.

                  Now there are many instances in the New Testament where “Lord” is used of Christ in what can only be understood as this strong Old Testament sense, “the Lord” who is Yahweh or God himself. This use of the word “Lord” is quite striking in the word of the angel to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Though these words are familiar to us from frequent reading of the Christmas story, we should realize how surprising it would be to any first-century Jew to hear that someone born as a baby was the “Christ” (or “Messiah”), and, moreover, that this one who was the Messiah was also “the Lord” --that is, the Lord God himself! The amazing force of the angel's statement, which the shepherds could hardly believe, was to say, essentially, “Today in Bethlehem a baby has been born who is your Savior and your Messiah, and who is also God himself.” It is not surprising that “all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:18). 

                  When Mary comes to visit Elizabeth several months before Jesus is to be born, Elizabeth says, “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Because Jesus was not even born, Elizabeth could not be using the word “Lord” to mean something like human “master.” She must rather be using it in the strong Old Testament sense, giving an amazing sense to the sentence: “Why is this granted me, that the mother of the Lord God himself should come to me?” Though this is a very strong statement, it is difficult to understand the word “Lord” in this context in any weaker sense. 

                  We see another example when Matthew says that John the Baptist is the one who cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Matt. 3:3). In doing this John is quoting Isaiah 40:3, which speaks about the Lord God himself coming among his people. But the context applies this passage to John's role of preparing the way for Jesus to come. The implication is that when Jesus comes, the Lord himself will come. 

                  Jesus also identifies himself as the sovereign Lord of the Old Testament when he asks the Pharisees about Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet” (Matt. 22:44). The force of this statement is that "God the Father said to God the Son [David's Lord], ‘Sit at my right hand. ...’” The Pharisees know he is talking about himself and identifying himself as one worthy of the Old Testament title kyrios, “Lord.” 

                  Such usage is seen frequently in the Epistles, where “the Lord” is a common name to refer to Christ. Paul says "there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6; cf. 12:3, and many other passages in the Pauline epistles), 

                  A particularly clear passage is found in Hebrews 1, where the author quotes Psalm 102, which speaks about the work of the Lord in creation and applies it to Christ: 

 

                  You, Lord, founded the earth in the beginning,

                  and the heavens are the work of your hands;

                  they will perish, but you remain;

                  they will all grow old like a garment,

                  like a mantle you will roll them up,

                  and they will be changed.

                  But you are the same, 

                  and your years will never end. (Heb. 1:10-12)

 

                  Here Christ is explicitly spoken of as the eternal Lord of heaven and earth who created all things and will remain the same forever. Such strong usage of the term “Lord” to refer to Christ culminates in Revelation 19:16, where we see Christ returning as conquering King, and “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords." 




*This content summarized from materials found in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, published by Zondervan Publications.

 

More to the Story - video

Learn more about the book of Hebrews we were studying this week! 

LOADING PLAYER…