Why couldn’t God just save us without going through all the trouble he did?Why did he choose to save us in the way he did? Why Jesus? Why a virgin birth? Why a perfect life? Why a death on a cross? Why a resurrection? Why an ascension back into heaven?
Did God not have the ability to just speak a word from heaven and save us? No, God couldn’t just speak a word from heaven and save us. Not because God was limited by a lack of power, but because God was limited by his own nature.
You see, everything God does flows from who he is. His actions are always true to his attributes. He can never behave in a way that contradicts his nature. God is love, yes. But he is not only love. He is also holy and just. Everything God does is in accordance with all of his attributes. He cannot exercise his love at the expense of his holiness and justice.
That is why God could not just speak a word from heaven and save us. He would have been exercising his love while betraying his holiness and justice.
God saved us in the only way possible, through the man Jesus Christ. It was only through the man Jesus Christ that God could exercise his love towards us while still remaining holy and just. It was only through the virgin birth, perfect life, sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension of the man Jesus Christ that God could, as the apostle Paul puts it, “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
God is love, and so he desired to show his love toward us and set us apart unto himself. The problem was that God is holy and just, and we were vile and wretched sinners. God’s holiness requires that he be separate from all evil and sin, and therefore he must separate himself from evil sinners like us. Also, God’s justice requires that all evil and sin be punished. God is an infinitely worthy being, and all evil and sin against him must be punished with an infinite punishment. Therefore, God’s nature requires that he not only separate himself from us, but also that he punish us for all eternity.
So, we are presented with God’s great dilemma: How can God be both just and the justifier of men? How can God exercise his love toward vile and wretched sinners like us, while still being faithful to his holiness and justice? The answer: the man Jesus Christ.
The man Jesus Christ took all our sins upon himself while on the cross, and God poured out all his wrath on him because of our sins. Having poured out the full measure of his wrath on sin, God was able to remain just. The man Jesus Christ not only suffered the full punishment for our sins through his sacrificial death on the cross, but he also lived a perfectly sinless life, attaining a perfect righteousness that satisfied all the requirements of God’s law, allowing God to justify us by crediting Jesus’ perfect righteousness to us. This allowed God to see us in light of Jesus’ righteousness instead of our sinfulness, allowing God to adopt us as children and welcome us into his holy presence. Therefore, God was able to show us his love while still remaining holy.
The man Jesus Christ allowed God to show his love toward us while not betraying his justice or holiness, because our sin was punished in Jesus and we were welcomed into God’s holy presence based on Jesus’ perfect righteousness.
Jesus had to become a man, for only as a man could he attain perfect righteousness by a life of total obedience to God’s law, and only as a man could he drink the full cup of God’s wrath poured out on our sins.
The man Jesus Christ was God’s only way to save us. The man Jesus Christ was our only hope.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
― Galatians 4:4–5 NASB
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
― 1 Timothy 2:5 NASB
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
— Philippians 2:5–8
It’s tempting to read this passage in Philippians and simply marvel at Jesus’ humility, but the Bible doesn’t give us that luxury.
Our response to Jesus’ humanity must go beyond mere admiration to emulation: “Have this mind among yourselves…” While it may seem farfetched to think we could actually have the same mindset that Jesus did, this is exactly what the Bible teaches. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul specifically tells us that we “have the mind of Christ” (v. 16) because of the Holy Spirit who lives in us (v. 10–13). Through Jesus, God gives us the example to follow, and through the Holy Spirit, God gives us the power to follow it. Were it not for the Spirit, we could only sit back and reflect on Jesus’ humility rather than put it into practice in our own lives.
Walking by the Spirit causes us to live in a way that is countercultural to the rest of society. And we should praise God for this! While modern society is often guided by fear, insecurity, jealousy, anger and rivalry, we get to experience “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).
When your life is filled with these things, it’s much easier to be humble. When your inner needs are being met by God through his Spirit, there is less urgency to strive to have your own way. When you recognize that God is providing for your deepest needs, it is much easier to trust and submit to him the way Jesus did.
At the end of the day, it’s impossible to talk about Jesus’ humanity without considering our own. If Jesus was the best version of humanity, then the Spirit of Jesus allows us to the best version of our own humanity. We shouldn’t take this lightly. We should praise God that he has provided a way for us to be like Christ, and we should see it as the culmination of all he came to fulfill in us.
So in considering Jesus’ humanity, let’s don’t just admire it. Let’s emulate it through the power of the Holy Spirit, and let’s look and act like Jesus to one another and to a world who so desperately needs him.
Will you be Jesus to someone today? If you are living a Spirit-filled life, yes, you will.
So, I’ve got these four kids. The youngest is Rory. He LOVES Batman. His birthday is in February, which means he has to watch every other member of our family have their birthdays before his comes back around. For the last eight months, at least once every other day, I’ve heard some variation of the following: “For my burfday I want Batman…” He has covered it all — Legos, Play-Doh, lunchboxes, movies, action figures, toothbrushes. I would love to be exaggerating here, because I am gifted in that arena, but for once I am dead serious. I bet you can imagine his Christmas list.
Last weekend he spent the night with some family and watched a Minecraft video. He came home and dared to say, “I hate Batman. For my burfday I want…” I literally whipped my head around and said in the most mom voice there ever has been, “NEVER SAY THAT AGAIN.” I do not care about Batman —honestly, not impressed. I was into Barbies. However, I am am done christmas shopping, family is done shopping and a good number of things for our little Batman hater are Batman related. In true four-year-old fashion, Rory had the audacity to change his mind, to set his sights on new and better things.
You might be wondering what this has to do with Jesus. At the Sunnyvale campus, David brought a great message about the humanity of Jesus. None of it was new information for me. It’s Christmas, I work at a church, attend seminary — I know the story. But as I sat there, I thought about what Jesus did. He came to earth to be with us. He laid aside his very right to be all-knowing, all-powerful, all-places and became man. And not even an impressive man. He was born to a carpenter, never left his home country, went fairly unnoticed for most of his life. The whole time he was man, he was God. And no one even knew.
Keep going in his story, and it takes you to the cross, where he was beaten and killed for sins he did not commit. God the entire time. He came to be like us, for us, giving up everything to be with us. I have asked myself 100-plus times why. Why would he leave heaven? Why would he give up his access to his deity and his divinity? Surely there was another way! I would never leave my house if I didn’t have to, and my kitchen is bursting with clutter and dirty dishes. Far from heaven, but I like it here. Jesus giving up everything is crazy to me.
Matthew 1:22–23 tells us, “All this happened to make clear the full meaning of what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel.’ This name means “God is with us.”
God had a plan, and it included being with us as Jesus. And not once did he change his mind. Not when he had to give up equality with God, not when he was cold, or hungry, or tempted by sin. His mind was not changed when he was scorned, ignored, mocked, made out to be a liar. He never faltered in his decision because he was determined to be God with us.
Rory is getting Batman stuff for Christmas, but Christmas is not about Batman or presents or family. Christmas is the celebration that, just as he promised, God became man, took on the form of a servant and made himself nothing. He did all this so he could be with us. With me. With you. Next year, Rory will want something new for Christmas, but the story of Jesus will the same, unchanging in his plan to be for us and with us, for our benefit and his glory.
The mystery of the incarnation of Jesus has been a highly debated topic since his birth. Is Jesus fully man, or is he fully God? It can be so difficult to wrap my mind around his being both. The people that were around when Jesus was alive seemed to have no trouble accepting his humanity. John 1 tells us that they touched and shared life with Jesus. What was not clear to them at first, but would be revealed later through his life, death and resurrection, was that he was truly God. Soon after his time on Earth, it became more evident that people began to struggle with Jesus being fully human. His disciples went from experiencing him as man to worshiping him as God, while we experience him as God first and then learn what it means for us that he was truly man. As we discover that Jesus was fully man, with the same heart, will, body and mind that we have, we begin to see that we are fully saved from all of those same things.
We learn that Jesus had a body just like ours. John 1 says that the Word became flesh. The Bible tells us that Jesus was born, he grew, he became tired, he became thirsty, he became weak, he would even die — just like all humans.
We learn that Jesus had a heart just like ours. Jesus experienced many emotions, just like we experience. The Bible tells us that Jesus marveled, he experienced sorrow, he was greatly troubled, he wept, and he even prayed through loud cries and tears.
We learn that Jesus had a mind just like we do. The Bible tells us that he increased in wisdom and stature during his time on Earth. And it even says in Mark 13 that,“Concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Jesus was fully man, even in his wisdom.
We learn that Jesus had his own will, just as we have a will. The Bible shows us multiple times that Jesus would pray that not his will would be done, but the will of his Father.
Knowing that Jesus was fully man does a lot of things in my mind and soul. First of all, it makes me feel okay when I experience my own humanity. In my desire to be more and more like Jesus, it can become defeating for me as I am faced with the reality of my own flesh — when my own body betrays me, when my own heart leads me astray, when my own mind falls short, and when my own will distracts me. But I am fully human. I have a Savior that has experienced all of these same battles with humanity.
But it doesn’t stop there. I have no hope if my Savior only has experienced my struggles, if my Savior only understands my difficulties. Instead, I have a Savior that has power over all of these things. The beauty in Jesus being fully man is that he is also fully God. Although it can be complex for my mind to handle this concept, this is what makes Jesus so worthy of all of our praise and adoration. He is beyond anything our minds can handle or fathom. He is truly spectacular and unique. This is the one I want to give my life to. If I need to be saved from my body, heart, mind, emotions and will, then I needed a Savior that had a body, heart, mind, emotions and will. Jesus took all of my flesh, all of my sin, up to the cross and then defeated it so that I could have victory through his finished work. He became every part of our humanity so that we could be saved from every part of our humanity. This is the Savior that is truly worthy of our praise.
Have you ever found yourself surrounded by people that just didn’t get you? This has happened to me on a number of occasions, and it is really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, often these are people who are kind and gracious, but simply unable to connect with you on a real and personal level. Sometimes the reasons are obvious and difficult to overcome. As a result, it is nearly impossible to forge a meaningful relationship. Again, it isn’t because the other person is a bad person. They are just different, and different is oftentimes very difficult to overcome.
A few examples of things that can make it difficult to relate would be:
We could go on and on, but I trust that you understand the point I am making. When there are many differences, it is much more difficult to appreciate and understand where the other person is coming from and how they view the world. There are anomalies out there, but the old adage is actually quite true: birds of a feather flock together. I guess it is just part of the human condition.
I think this is the most beautiful part of Jesus coming to earth to “dwell among us.” If he hadn’t taken on full humanity, it would be so hard for us to relate to him. My guess is we would be more likely to grow cynical when people mention God, simply because he is God. If he hadn’t come to us in the person of Jesus, we could just dismiss him as distant, aloof and completely out of touch.
However, he did come to us in the person of Jesus and, according to the Scripture, he understands us. He understands what it feels like to suffer, to be grieved, to be tired, to be hungry, to be tempted, and to be human.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
— Hebrews 4:15
The gap between humanity and God was a really big one until the voice of God broke through the night from a manger in Bethlehem. Praise be to God for his willingness to join us in our mess and lift us from it by his grace.