Dear Theophilus: Is Jesus Fully God and Fully Human?

How can Christians Believe that Jesus is Fully God and Fully Human? Posted on October 01, 2019  in  [ Theology & Ministry ]

Dear Faculty,

How can Christians believe that Jesus is fully God and fully human?

Sincerely,

Theophilus

 

Dear Theophilus,

This is a difficult concept for us to understand since these two natures of Jesus seem are mutually exclusive. The problem is that we just do not have a frame of reference to help us understand. It would be easy to understand if Jesus were merely fully human but not divine. We could also understand it if Jesus were fully divine but not human. Alternatively, if all humans were fully human and fully God we would easily understand how Jesus could be fully human and fully God. However, no one is fully human and fully God except Jesus so we lack a frame of reference that helps us to understand this concept.

According to our limited knowledge and understanding, it is impossible for anything, or anyone, to have two mutually exclusive natures. A simple example would be a circle and a square. As far as our understanding and knowledge will allow, it is simply impossible for any object to be both a circle and a square at the same time. The same is true with our understanding of Jesus being fully human and fully God since we understand those two natures to be mutually exclusive. However, we fail to consider an all-powerful and all-knowing God who can do anything. Just because we do not understand how it is possible, does not mean that we cannot believe that with God, it is possible. We might not understand it, but we can believe it.

Anytime we have a question of theology or Church doctrine; we need to examine what the Bible has to say about that topic. In the four Gospels, there is ample evidence that Jesus was fully human since He was born to a human mother (Matthew 1:25), He experienced hunger (Matthew 21:18) and thirst (John 19:28). Jesus also experienced temptation (Matthew 4:1) pain and suffering (Matthew 16:21), and He died (Matthew (27:50). Had Jesus only been fully God, then He never would have have had these human experiences. However, Jesus was more than a mere human.

When Moses encountered God in the burning bush, God declared to Moses, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). Jesus also used the divine “I am” on several occasions. Jesus said “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51), “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), “I am from above” (John 8:23), “I am he” (John 8:24, 28), “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7), “I am the door” (John 10:9), “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:14), “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” (John 14:11), “I am the vine” (John 15:5), and “I am he” (John 18:6).

From the preceding list of Jesus’ “I am” statements, we can see that Jesus used the divine “I am” to proclaim that He was God. However, Jesus was not the only person to proclaim that Jesus was God. A disciple of Jesus, Thomas proclaimed the resurrected Jesus to be God (John 20:28). The writer of John proclaimed that Jesus made everything, including the world (John 1:3, 10). The prophet Isaiah also declared that Jesus was God in the famous verse used at Christmas (Isaiah 9:6). In addition to Jesus proclaiming himself to be God, and others confirming his claim, we have the evidence that death did not hold Him for Jesus resurrected (Matthew 28:1-10). Jesus also ascended into Heaven while His disciples watched (Acts 1:6-11).

We may not be able to understand how Jesus was fully human and fully God, but we can accept the testimony of Jesus and other witnesses and believe that it is true. Thankfully, Jesus was both fully human and fully God for if He had only been fully human, his death would do nothing to help us. Instead, the death of a fully human Jesus would soon be forgotten, and we would still need someone to reconcile us with God. Had Jesus only been entirely God he could not have died for us. It is the very fact that Jesus was fully human and fully God that makes Jesus our savior (Titus 2:13-14).

I hope that this helps you to believe and understand this important truth about Jesus.

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Joe Stanley, M.Div.

Faculty, College of Theology

Joe Stanley is a proud Texan from San Antonio. He has 25 years of experience in small church pastoral ministry. He has a degree in Christian Education, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, a Master of Divinity and is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry. He and his wife Glenda have 2 children and 1 grandchild.

Learn more about Joe Stanley, M.Div.

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