by Russell Young
The mutuality of Christ, being very God and very man, with the implications attached can be very confusing. The Word reveals that he is God. (Jn 1:1─5, 14, 3:13, 31; Col 1:15─20; Hebrews 1) He was also man. He was born of Mary and the witness of his living presence among humankind reveals his humanity.
Jesus was made in the flesh just like everyone who walks this earth. The writer of Hebrews has recorded: “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” (Heb 2:17 NIV) Jesus cannot be seen as having any characteristics or abilities beyond those of created humankind. He did not have the power to escape his enemies, or to create objects that would better his life. He could not heal or avoid injury or sickness. He could not supernaturally avoid sinning. He was made like humans in every way. This is the Jesus who was raised by Mary and Joseph.
The thought should not be entertained that the Lord possessed any special power that would grant him victory over sin. The Word tells us that he suffered with temptations. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:18 NIV) The Lord understands the trials we face and the issues of the flesh. He knows! To be knowledgeable of the issues of humanity is part of the reason that he was incarnated in the flesh. Because he understands, the excuses that will be offered at his judgment seat will be dealt with according to his understanding and all that has been provided.
How is it that he was without sin while the rest of humankind submit to its call? First, he is the Son of his heavenly Father. The soul of Christ was of his Father, as were his interests and his disposition. Unlike those who have been born of their father, Adam, his interests and heart were in tune with those of his Father. The descendants of Adam have the heart of Adam. The heart of humans has become afflicted with self-interest and all that such interest entails. It was the heart and soul of Jesus as his Father’s Son that made him unique and encouraged his fight for victory.
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Heb 5:7 NIV) He was not sinless because he possessed a supernatural ability to defeat sin; he was sinless because he sought to honor his Father and because he earnestly and reverently prayed for victory. Had his heart not been fully committed to loving his Father, he might also have sinned and his death would have resulted. The Lord’s commitment for victory over sin needs to be acknowledged. It was the application of his will toward obedience to the Father he loved, rather than to self, that provided victory. His heart and soul gained him victory over the flesh that the Father had prepared for him in the womb of Mary.
Although Jesus was God, his godly power was not made available until his baptism. “As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mk 1:11 NIV) His Father had been “well pleased” because his obedience was complete and his heart fully set on his Father and upon loving and honouring him. According to Luke, following his baptism he was filled with the Spirit and went into the wilderness for testing. When he returned to Galilee it was by the power of the Spirit. (Lk 4:14)
Prior to the gifting of the Holy Spirit Jesus was godlike in soul only; following that gifting, he became godlike in Spirit as well. He had all of the power of God available to him, in addition to the soul and heart of the Father. At his resurrection the flesh that made him the Son of Man was left behind.
The redeemed should never excuse themselves for sinning. They have all of the power for victory that Jesus had as he walked this earth and more than he had in the years before his baptism. It is the darkness of a person’s soul and lack of love for the Father and for his Son, their lord and savior, that prevents a righteous walk. Peter said that “His divine power [his Spirit] has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Pet 1:3 NIV) The same Spirit that Christ had is the Spirit that indwells all who would call Christ lord and who desire to be transformed into his likeness.
Jesus came to do the will of the Father. (Jn 4:34, 8:28─29) He loved his Father and it was for this reason that he was fully obedient, even unto death on the cross. As he entered Jerusalem before his crucifixion, he knew what lay before him, but he also knew what lay on the other side. He would be gloriously united with his Father. It was because of his great love that he would say while on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46 NIV) He was anguished in soul because of the pain, the load of sin that he bore, and the horrible separation from his Father that it had caused.
Adoration and wonder should overwhelm humankind knowing that the Lord has walked the walk that the rest of humankind has been unable to achieve. As man his accomplishments in the flesh should cause all people to look to him in awe and with gratitude. Our sin that he bore and which separated him from the Father whom he loved so dearly should cause us grief. His resurrected life which bears the power of God for victory over sin for those who obey him should cause rejoicing.
He is the God-Man Jesus Christ!