This is what Christians since the earliest days have said about the person of Christ: First, he is clearly one person, not some dualistic oddity. But in that one person there are definitely two full and distinct natures. Jesus was truly human–not just a body with divinity replacing human nature. And he was truly divine–not just a prophet or even a super-prophet who was invested with an extraordinary measure of divine power.
How do we know this? First, because he demonstrated the unique attributes of deity. Power when wind and waves obeyed him and when he took a dead little girl by the hand and she woke up. Holiness, glory, and omniscience. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).
Second, because he exercised the prerogatives of deity. He wielded authority in calling himself “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8) and by saying astounding things such as “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). He forgave people their sins. Who but God can do that? Which is why, when Jesus told a paralytic man that he forgave his sins, Jesus’ opponents snarled, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). They had no idea how right they were. Jesus said elsewhere that he would be involved in judgment. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory… he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32). He solicited faith in himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And, most remarkable of all, he let other people worship him: the disciples in the boat after he calmed the storm, and Mary in the garden after the resurrection, even in Bethlehem when the Magi came to worship him as a child.
Now what does “worship” in these contexts mean? In the boat Jesus’ disciples had no hymnals, no guitars, no offering plates. What they did have was themselves, and the ability to bow down or bend the knee in the presence of one they recognized as Lord supreme. They were compelled to do it. Bowing was as quick a response as when you squint or put your hand up when you step from a dark room out into the blazing sun. Later they must have pondered the significance of this impulse to worship a man they were following.
[Continued next time…]
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