In the last post about the Trinity we discussed, The Father is God, and now we turn to the Son. What we believe and understand about God shapes us. And we pray the kinds of things we believe to be true. Every once in awhile I hear a prayer that goes like this, “Thank you Father for dying on the cross for our sins.” I am pretty sure the person praying this prayer, if asked, would say they know Jesus is the one who died on the cross. But they may not consider how prayers are related to what we understand and believe. What we believe is what comes off our lips.
Jesus is God and Man
When you think about Jesus, what comes to mind? Probably, if you brainstorm a list it would be long. Therefore, I can only touch on a few essential things since this is a blog post and not a book!
Jesus is God. In the book of Hebrews, it says that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God. The word here for “representation” means an “exact expression.”1 He is a precise likeness. He explains God.2 Just as God explains Himself through creation, humanity created in His image, and the Bible, Jesus Christ “explains God.” Or, He makes Him known. Jesus says, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). The Father is God and Jesus is one in nature and equal in glory as the Father. When Jesus was questioned about His identity by the religious leaders He refers to Himself as “I AM,” (which is the same name God uses with Moses). Understanding the implications of Jesus’ statement, the people wanted to stone Him , for Jesus was claiming to be God (John 8:58-59). Jesus is the eternal God the Son.3
The Son of God became Man. We also know Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection are historical events (1 Cor 15:3-8). He walked the earth as a person. Philippians 2, states that Jesus “emptied Himself.” This passage is a favorite, for I admire Jesus’ display of humility.4 But little do I think about what the word “emptied” entails. The eternal Son of God (think of all the qualities of God discussed in the first blog post, The Trinity: Puzzling or Understandable?) took on human flesh in the Incarnation.5 The Son of God did not cease to be God, but he assumed flesh. Jesus Christ was God and man — one person with two natures.6 He gave everything to identify with us and save us.
Jesus, the Perfect Substitute
He is the perfect substitute for sins and mediator between God and man.7
As we discussed in the last post, God seeks and initiates reconciliation. Humankind’s self-centeredness, self-preservation, and rebellion (sin) stand as a barrier and leads to death. A mediator is needed to bring us to God. God the Father, even before He created, has always been good, loving, just and merciful. As He created He overflowed His goodness, love, justice and mercy. He delights in His creation and humankind, who He made in His image — and therefore initiates reconciliation. Through the mediator, Jesus Christ, God provides a way for His creation to be reconciled to Him. “For there is One God, and One mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:5,6).
Jesus became our substitute — giving His life for ours. Forgiveness is costly. “Forgiveness means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it.”8 The price of our sin is death, for there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Heb 9:22). Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, died in our place to be the payment for our sin. He died the death humankind deserved.
Bearer of Sins
Jesus not only died and paid for our sins, but He removed them.9 Those who have identified with Christ Jesus have been immersed into His life, death, burial and resurrection.10 His life is our life. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection. He has taken our sin out of the way (Col 2:14). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24).
Jesus is the precise likeness and perfect substitute.
We needed perfect, but instead, we were far from it and far from God. Because Jesus was without sin or imperfection He was the perfect sacrifice. Jesus Christ is the mediator, the perfect sacrifice, and bearer of sin.11
We needed the right sacrifice. Because He was man, He could identify with us in our humanity — being the right sacrifice.11 His humanity allowed Him to die on our behalf. He is the right sacrifice for us.
We needed eternal right standing with God. Jesus could eternally remove and forgive our sins. Because He is God He is our eternal mediator, sacrifice and bearer of sins.
We needed reconciliation. No longer do we need to be far off, but He has brought us near through the cross. Jesus is the mediator to reconcile us and bring us to God. We pray to the Father through the Son (our mediator) by the Spirit.
We started this post with prayer — what we believe informs our prayers. Read this below and then thank the Father for giving us His Son.
I believe in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the exact image and representation of God. Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father, begotten and not made, first place and chief heir in all things. In the Incarnation Jesus Christ the Son of God emptied Himself and took on human flesh. Jesus, being fully man, was born without sin of the Virgin Mary and lived a sinless life. Being both God and man, Jesus Christ was both able to take on the sins of humankind and perfectly pay the debt of sin. Jesus Christ is Savior of the world, being the perfect sacrificial substitute for the forgiveness of sins. He is the one mediator between God and humanity through His death on the cross, burial and bodily resurrection. He will one day return physically to earth redeem and judge all things.
Next Post: The Spirit is God
1NET Bible, note on Hebrews 1, 2018, http://netbible.org.
2 In John 8:58, Jesus says, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him.” Jesus is declaring that He is God. And in John 10:30, he says, “I and the Father are one.” Heb 1:3. “He is the exact representation” of God. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father (John 14:9). Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), 53. The title “Lord” is used for Jesus, for one in authority, but also as one who is deity. J. Scott Horrell, “God Made Flesh,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). His literal miracles also demonstrate Jesus’ deity. “He claimed attributes which only God possesses, like omniscence … He did things only God can do like forgiving sins and raising the dead.”
3 John 1:1-3. Jesus was with God in the beginning. He not only was with God, He was God. “All things come into being through Him.” NET Bible, notes on Colossians 1, 2018, http:// netbible.org. In Colossians 1:15-16, “the emphasis is on the priority of Jesus’ rank as over and above creation (the “for” clause referring to Jesus as Creator). He is the one who has primacy and first place. This does not mean he was created for He is pre-existent.” J. Scott Horrell, “God Made Flesh,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). “The son is eternally existent, prior to both creation and the incarnation. John 1:14
4 Philippians 2:5-11
5 Phil 2:4-8. Jesus emptied Himself. John 1:14. John states that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” J. Scott Horrell, “The Person of Jesus Christ, One Personal Consciousness, Two Natures” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). “Jesus Christ did not normally use his divine prerogatives. Nevertheless he had the authority to do so should he have chosen.” Merrill F. Unger, “God the Father,” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, ed. R.K. Harrison, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 614-615. “That God in the Person of the Son should identify Himself completely with the human race become kinsman of the human family, and as the Kinsman-Redeemer lay down His life for their redemption from sin … is in itself an even of immeasurable importance.”
6 J. Scott Horrell, “God Made Flesh: The Deity of Jesus Christ in the New Testament,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). The Chalcedon’s Definitio Fidei of AD 451 affirmed both Christ’s human and divine nature, negating the heresies that compartmentalized or confused. J. Scott Horrell, “The Person of Jesus Christ, One Personal Consciousness, Two Natures,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). “Both Christ’s divinity and humanity subsist in the one hypostasis, the Second Person of the Godhead.” The divine nature assumes the human nature, being the person Jesus Christ. The human nature of Jesus Christ would not subsist on its own.
7 1Timothy 2:5-6.
8 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Riverhead Books, 2008), 195-199.
9 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, 201-203.
10 Romans 6:3-11.
11 Heb 1:1-10. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), 245. “Without the Incarnation we would have no Savior. Sin requires death for its payment. God does not die. So the Savior must be human in order to be able to die. But the death of an of an ordinary many would not pay for sin eternally, so the Savior must be God”