One of the greatest questions a person can ask is: “Who is Jesus?” In our culture Jesus is thought of in many ways to many people. Some say he is a revolutionary, a prophet, a great teacher, and the example of love. Some see Him as a Savior begging people to accept Him and ask Him into their lives. Others see Him as a Task Master too difficult to please. Jesus in dialogue with His disciples asked the question in Matthew 16:13-20, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responds with the correct answer in verse 16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Peter got it right, and Jesus affirmed Peter’s response by reminding Peter this was only discerned because God the Father revealed it to Peter. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
The answer per Jesus Himself concerning His identity is that He is God and man. He is the Messiah. This is what John the Apostle conveys in the opening prologue of his Gospel. In John 1:1 John states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John conveys in this opening statement that the Word, Jesus, is separate from God the Father and with God the Father and is God. Than in verse 14 of that same chapter John states, “14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This Word, who was with God and is God, took on flesh and dwelt among men. That word “dwelt” means to tabernacle among humankind and highlights how God has come to manifest His glory to us. Jesus is God and man and John in the rest of the Gospel of John shows this to be true in Christ’s own teachings and miracles. The whole purpose is that those who read John’s Gospel will believe and be saved (John 20:30-31).
So….who is Jesus? He is God and man. Now, we need to ask one more question: “Why is it important to believe in Jesus as both 100% God and 100% man?” Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic Theology gives several reasons why Jesus needed to be God and man.
Why He had to be God
1. Only someone who is infinite God could bear the full penalty for all the sins of all those who would believe in Him. - Any finite creature would have been incapable of bearing that penalty.
2. Salvation is from the Lord and the whole message of Scripture is designed to show that no human being, no creature, could ever save man – only God Himself.
3. Only someone who was truly and fully God and fully man could be the One mediator between God and man, both to bring us back to God and also to reveal God most fully to us.
Why He had to add humanity to His Deity?
Grudem gives several reasons again in his book Systematic theology.
1. Representative Obedience - Jesus as our representative obeyed for us where Adam failed and disobeyed.
2. To be a Substitute Sacrifice. -If Jesus had not been man, He could not have died in our place and paid the penalty that was due to us. It is important to understand that unless Jesus is fully man, He could not have died to pay the penalty for man’s sins.
3. To be the One mediator between God and Man. - We needed a mediator who could represent us to God, and who could represent God to us. In order to fulfill this role, Jesus had to be fully man and fully God.
4. To fulfill God’s original purpose for man to rule over Creation. - Man was created to rule over and subdue the earth but man fell into sin. When Jesus came as man He obeyed God perfectly and thereby has the right to rule over creation as a man, thus fulfilling God’s original purpose in putting man on earth. In subjection to Jesus, we will now reign with him over the new earth.
5. To be our example and pattern of life. - His life and character are what our lives are being conformed to. We are exhorted to imitate Christ and out of faith in Him live a life that desires to be obedient to God in all things.
6. To be the pattern for our redeemed bodies. - Jesus had to be raised from the dead in His humanity to be the pattern of the new resurrected bodies we will later have.
7. To sympathize with us as High Priest. - If Jesus had not been a man, he would not have been able to know by experience what we go through in our temptations and struggles in this life. But because He has lived as a man, He is able to sympathize with us more fully in our experiences.
-Grudem, Wayne, Chapter 26 The Person of Christ. Systematic Theology. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1994. Pg. 540-543.
The Gospel is directly tied to the question: "Who is Jesus?" Only the historical Jesus, who is both God and man, saves sinners.
Who is Jesus to you? How you answer that question matters eternally.