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The double nature of Christ: both human and divine.
Today, I want to defend two key ideas from the Scriptures, namely, the deity of Christ on the one hand and the humanity of Christ on the other.
Let’s start with His deity in Hebrews.
1.- THE DEITY OF CHRIST
We don’t need to go beyond Hebrews 1 to establish the foundational doctrine of Christ’s deity. In this one chapter alone, there are five distinct proofs that Jesus Christ is in all truth the eternal Son of God. Let’s take a look at the five texts. They are verses 2, 3, 6, 8 and 10.
Text one: the last clause of v. 2 states that God “made the worlds” by Jesus Christ, that is, Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things. And if He is the Creator of all things, then by no means is He a mere creature. Jesus Christ is as much God as the Father and the Holy Spirit are. No one here has created a universe because no one here is God.
Text two: verse 3, “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power...” Not only did Christ create all things in the beginning, but His sustains the whole of creation by His word. Once again, we could never apply this type of description to a mere mortal. Jesus creates all things and Jesus sustains all things because He is God.
Text three: verse 6, “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him”. Jesus doesn’t worship the angels because the angels aren’t divine. The angels worship Christ because He is divine. Who can receive worship except God alone? God the Father demands the angels to worship Christ. Back in the days of Isaiah, the Lord had spoken, “I am the Lord: that is my name and my glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8). But God does give glory to Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus Christ is God! He is of the same nature and essence as the Father.
Text four: verse 8, “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever”. Do you realize what’s happening here in this verse? The Lord God Almighty is talking to the Son and God the Father Himself declares the deity of the Son calling Him God. This is surely the best defence of Christ’s divinity in all of Scripture since it was spoken by the very mouth of the Father.
Text five: verse 10, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the work of thine hands”. As we have already seen in v. 2, the work of creation was carried out by the Lord Jesus. This v. 10 is a direct quote of Psalm 102:25 and the original passage is talking about God. So the author of Hebrews takes this text, which talks about God, and applies it directly to Jesus Christ. Why so? Because Jesus Christ is the Son of God made manifest in the flesh! Jesus Christ does the work of God i.e. creation; because He is God.
If we only had the first chapter of Hebrews in our New Testament, we could easily defend the doctrine of the deity of Christ. To sum up what we’ve seen so far in five brief points:
- According to verse 2, Jesus Christ is God because He created everything.
- According to verse 3, Jesus Christ is God because He sustains everything.
- According to verse 6, Jesus Christ is God because He the object of angelic worship.
- According to verse 8, Jesus Christ is God because God the Father calls Him so.
- According to verse 10, Jesus Christ is God because once again, He is the Creator of everything and an Old Testament text which talks about God is used to speak of Christ.
2.- THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST
It should now be clear to us that Scripture is adamant that Christ is God. Now, let’s look at Christ’s humanity. And I’d ask you to now take a look at the following chapter: Hebrews 2. We also find five distinct verses in this second chapter that lead us directly to the conclusion that Christ, as well as being God, is fully man. The verses in question are 9, 12, 14, 17 and 18.
Number one: verse 9, “But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels...” Being made a little lower than the angels is a reference to His humanity. In the incarnation, Jesus assumed a human nature. He was not a spirit or a ghost, but one hundred per cent man with a body and soul like us all.
Number two: verse 12, “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren”. The Son of God calls believers His brethren because He has identified with our human condition. In no part of Scripture do we ever hear of God the Father or of God the Spirit calling us their brethren; but the Son of God does call us brethren because He, like us, took on flesh. It is in virtue of His incarnation, that we can be called His brethren.
Number three: verse 14, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil”. Here the humanity of Christ is crystal clear. It couldn’t be any clearer. Jesus took part of flesh and blood. He wasn’t an eerie, spooky ghost but a real man with a physical body that could be touched by the likes of Thomas. “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side” (John 20:27). In Luke 24:41 Jesus asked if they had anything to eat. So they gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And v. 43 states that Christ “took it and did eat before them”. Jesus ate real food because He had a real body.
Number four: verse 17. “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God”. Once again, we can observe how Christ was made “like” unto his brethren in the context of His human nature. If Jesus had not assumed our human nature, He could not have been our high priest because the Word of God states that “every high priest taken among men is ordained for me in things pertaining to God” (Hebrews 5:1). A high priest is taken among men because he is a man. Christ is our high priest because he too was taken among men.
Number five: verse 18, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted”. A logical inference from this last text is that Jesus is a man because He, unlike God the Father and God the Spirit, was tempted.
Scripture is very clear that God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13). So how could Jesus be tempted? Because He took on flesh! Because He was a man! I’m sure we’re all familiar with the episode of Christ and the devil in the desert before Jesus embarked on His public ministry. Satan tempted Chris there three times. “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from the Temple because it is written: He shall give His angels charge concering thee. All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:3, 6, 9). But in every instance Christ replied with the shotgun of Scripture, “It is written” (vv. 4, 7, 10).
3.- THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRIST’S DOUBLE NATURE (DIVINE AND HUMAN)
In the light of everything we’ve studied in Hebrews 1 and 2, Jesus Christ is undeniably and undoubtedly both God and man. But now we need to go a little further and ask ourselves the following question: how come? If Jesus were not God or man, what difference would it make? Does it really matter?
Well, with regards to Christ’s human nature, if He were not fully human He could not have taken our place on the cross as our substitute. As a man, He took the place of sinful men. He only redeemed what He assumed. And since He assumed our human nature, He redeemed. Had He not taken our condition upon Himself, He could not have been our Redeemer. So His humanity is unmistakably important.
With respect to Christ’s divine nature, it is thanks to His deity that His sacrifice upon the cross was of infinite and eternal worth. Only God could satisfy God’s wrath. The Levitical system of animal sacrifices never took away sins as Hebrews 10:4 points out. The sacrificial aspect of the law was a mere shadow of Christ’s perfect work on the cross. A mere mortal –be it an animal or a man- could not appease the fierce wrath of the Almighty. Only God could take God’s eternal wrath against sin on board.
And since Christ is God, His sacrifice is of eternal worth. This means that the saints in the Old Testament like Abraham, Moses and David were entirely forgiven by the same blood that forgives believers like Peter, Paul and Thomas in the New Testament. What’s more, those of us who are all in the twenty-first century are pardoned by the selfsame blood because it’s the precious blood of the eternal Son of God. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). He is God. Therefore He is spotless. And due to His eternal spotlessness, He alone can pay for the multitude of our iniquities.
So, it is this double nature of Christ –His humanity and deity- that He is the perfect Mediator between God and man. He knows the holy claims of God and He knows the miserable condition of man so He mediates in impeccable fashion. If we really got a grip of this astonishing doctrine and its rich significance, we would be praising all day long! So, do you get it, brethren? Has it sunk in? Give glory to Christ for His deity and give glory to Christ for His humanity. He is the perfect Redeemer: Him alone and no-one else!
Jesus Christ: what a glorious person!