~By Mike Floyd
One of the challenging aspects of our modern, scientific, world is the sense that it can tend to be a rather cold, factual and impersonal place. Often times we feel that we can use our intelligence and our evaluative skills to define and order all things. This approach has even found its way into the life of our churches. Many people feel that Christian spirituality lacks the spark of divine mystery and divine wonder.
In many ways Jesus coming to dwell amongst us is an event filled with a deep sense of mystery. Because of his uniqueness, as the only “begotten” son of God, Jesus is able to bring together the two natures into one person. This is a wondrous event, a person truly divine and truly human, is something that we as humans struggle to comprehend. There is a reverent sense of mystery about how this is even possible.
There is within this startling claim a reverent sense of mystery about how this is even possible. It is an occasion to wonder and marvel at the things of God beyond our normal comprehension. Jesus is proclaimed in Scripture to be the fulfillment of prophecy, the long awaited Messiah, the word made flesh, the redemption of the world, the ultimate and complete sacrifice. This is a foundational truth for Christianity.
To be able to comprehend this, in any way, we must examine what the Scriptures say about Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3 (ESV) Jesus, was and is, as John states, one with God. Jesus was, and is, divine and co-existent with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. In presenting this concept John is recapturing the truth expressed in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning” illustrates and exemplifies the truth that Jesus was, and is, one with God at the beginning of all things.
Jesus was born of Mary, had human needs and died on the cross all of which clearly established his humanity. See Luke 2, Matt 4:2; Mark 4:38 and Mark 15:37.
Jesus was born of God by the Holy Spirit, exercised his authority through his teaching and preaching, through the exercise of signs and wonders, through offering forgiveness, he was worshipped as God and finally conquered death by his resurrection all of which clearly establishes his divinity. See Matt 1:18-25; John 1:1-18; 5:18, Luke 2:47; Matt 5:21-28; 7:29, Matt 4:23-25; John 11:38-44, Mark 2:1-12, Matt 25:31-46, John 20:28 cf. John 1:1; 14:9 and Heb 1:8, 1 Cor 15.
So God transcends the barriers He established in Creation and becomes human, all the while maintaining His divinity. God in His divine nature transcends the barriers of time and space and becomes human in order to reconcile humanity to himself. This illustrates both the sovereignty and compassion of God. He creates a new possibility because of His love for humanity.
Why was it necessary for Jesus to come in human form? Throughout the old Testament, from the time of the fall, we are shown mankind’s inability to live as God desires. Adam and Eve sinned and broke the fellowship bond that God had put in place between himself and humankind.
Yet despite this God sought to know and be known by humankind. God also sought ways to redeem humankind and to make it possible for the relationship to be re-established and maintained. God used Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and eventually David to establish a Covenant people and to establish the law and the need for blood sacrifice to redeem humankind, from the law, to God.
All the while God, in his acknowledgment of humankind’s inability to live holy before Him, planned to send Jesus to accomplish what humankind could not. Jesus as a divine being was, and is, holy. Jesus was, and is, an undeniably righteous person. Because of his divine nature, he is the only person capable and able to fulfill all the requirements of the law.
In Matthew’s Gospel we are given two very important pieces of information: Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and Joseph had no sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus was born. In Matthew 1:18 we are told that: “before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (ESV) and in Matthew 1: 25 we are told: “but knew her not until she had given birth to a son” (ESV). So it is clearly established that Joseph could not be the father of the child that Mary carried, but that the Holy Spirit was indeed responsible.
In Luke 1: 9-11 Jesus’ divine nature is confirmed for us at the time of his baptism by John: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus clearly exercises his divine nature by establishing his authority through his teaching and preaching, through the exercise of signs and wonders, and through offering forgiveness. He is worshiped as God and finally in the greatest exhibition of his participation with God, in his plan for redemption of humankind, Jesus allows himself to be put to death and then conquers Satan by his resurrection from the dead (Matt 5:21-28; 7:29, Matt 4:23-25; John 11:38-44, Mark 2:1-12, Matt 25:31-46, John 20:28 cf. John 1:1; 14:9 and Heb 1:8, 1 Cor 15.)
So here we have the Holy mystery, the divine become incarnate in human form for the sake of fallen humanity. God recognizing that only through one pure and perfect sacrifice could all the requirements of the law be fulfilled. He loved the world so much that he breaks into creation and affects the necessary change so that the creator and the created can once again enjoy fellowship.
God transcends the barriers He established in Creation and becomes human, all the while, maintaining His divinity. God in His divine nature transcends the barriers of time and space and becomes human in order to reconcile humanity to himself. This illustrates both the sovereignty and compassion of God. He creates a new possibility because of His love for humanity.
In your life today, where have you experienced Holy mystery?
~Mike Floyd is an MDiv Student at Trinity School for Ministry. Mike is originally from New South Wales in Australia, married to Fiona (from New Zealand) they live in Toledo, Ohio with their two children Sarah and Emma (both girls were born in California.) Mike served with Covenant Players drama ministry for 33 years before retiring to attend Trinity full time.
For Further Reading: If you’d like to dig deeper into who Jesus “really” was, from the perspective of an awesome English bishop, check out N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus. I confess I haven’t read it yet myself, but it’s on my shelf, and it’s continually recommended to me, including the folks at Urbana ’09. So I pass those recommendations on to you.