To What Degree?

degree

There is an unresolvable mystery surrounding the Christmas story.  It has to do with the illogical proposition that Jesus was fully human, and yet also fully God.  It has to do with the fulfillment of prophecy spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (7:14) Matthew’s Gospel tells “Immanuel” means “God with us.” (1:23)

For me there are many mysteries about the virgin birth, the signs of God, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the star, Herod’s role, and the trip to Egypt then back to Nazareth.  All of this as a part of God’s plan of salvation, just takes my breath away.  But when I consider the duality of the life of the Man/God Jesus Christ, I’m almost speechless.  Notice I said, “almost.”  I am, after all, a pastor/teacher/writer, and you can ask anyone… I am seldom caught speechless.

The question I ponder all year long, but most intensely at Christmas is, “To what degree was Jesus a man? To what degree was Jesus divine?”  It’s easy to take a Sunday School approach, like a child just learning “facts” by repetition, and answer, “Jesus was 100% human, 100% divine.”  These are indeed the facts as presented in Scripture.  Therein lies the mystery.

At age 12 Jesus has traveled with His parents to Jerusalem for Passover, but on the way back home they discover He is not in the caravan.  Going back to the Temple, they find Him sitting with the teachers (Sanhedrin), “both listening and asking them questions.”  When questioned by His parents “why have You treated us this way?”, Jesus responds, “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”  So, even at this young age, Jesus was self-aware of at least some of His own nature of Sovereignty.

From what point during His childhood, did Jesus start becoming self-aware of the duality of His nature?  Scripture teaches that He was “tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin,” and this temptation was directed at the MAN – Jesus.  At the same time, the Bible says that Jesus claimed, “I and the Father are one.” so the MAN-Jesus claims to be God-Jesus.  Anyone who spends much time considering the implications of these two phrases, will find themselves in a mystery so rich and deep it cannot be fathomed.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a Christmas song, that has become my absolute favorite.  I listen to it often every year around this time.  It speaks to me.

To what degree was Jesus a Man?  100%

To what degree is Jesus God? 100%

It is a…

Mystery

The child was born on Christmas day
Born to save the world
But long before the world began
He knew His Death was sure
The pain and strife secured

Mystery… how He came to be a Man
But greater still…How His Death was in His Plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh what Love is this
That His Death was in His Hands

The Christmas trees they glow so bright
With presents all round
But Christmas brought a tree of life
With Blood that sacrificed
The greatest gift in life

I am just a man
And can’t begin to comprehend
When You look into this traitor’s eyes
What do You see that justifies the Lamb

God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh what Love is this
That His Death was in His Plan

Mystery…

Mystery…

 

click on the Title – “Mystery” above, then watch and listen on YouTube.

 

Degree

2 thoughts on “To What Degree?”

  1. Hi JD. I’m going to comment as succinctly as I can with hopefully the correct words. It’s been a long time since I really delved into scripture so I cannot state/quote any here but…a couple things: I think we all know the Bible is not (always) literal: “I and the Father are one” is very similar to husband and wife are one: acting as one, in accord with one intention or goal. That’s my understanding of that particular scripture and it makes sense to me. “God is with us” is, again, similar to a representative: one person sent on behalf of another or a company. Again, this makes sense to me. The question of percentage of devine and human – well, that’s above my pay grade, as the saying goes but I do have my opinion: Jesus was created by God and is God’s son, sent to earth as a human (in much but not exactly the same way God created Adam – or Eve, but that’s semantics). Jesus is NOT God but God’s first creation and with him God created all other things – he was there from the beginning – and I think there is a scripture in Genesis that alludes to this fact if not states it explicitly. ~ I’m going to venture that you’ll disagree with most if not all of this but what I’ve stated is logical and I have found God to be a pretty logical ‘person’/being – it’s “religion” that complicates it. There is also, if memory serves me at this time, a scripture that states that man cannot know the mind of God and also that, well, it’s really not our business to question God’s actions/reasons/plan but to trust that this immortal being knows more than we do as dizzying as that is to us sometimes. I enjoyed your post.

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    1. Hello Karyn. Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog post today. I’ve spent most of my adult life studying the Bible. I too believe that not everything in Scripture is “literal”, but that said I think God gives us insight as to which parts are “like” meaning analogy, and which parts are “literal.” I also agree that we cannot know the mind of God, or the depth of His knowledge, yet the Bible is there so we can “know” what He wants us to know. While Matthew and Luke tell the story of Christmas with a birth, John goes all the way back to eternity. And John’s gospel describes Jesus not as a created being but as God. Even a cursory reading of the first chapter is hard to miss “and the Word was God.” I appreciate your ideas and how well you express them. And I so totally agree that “religion” is the complication in our world today. Christianity, regardless of what others may call it, is based primarily in the belief that Jesus claims to be God, and so deserves our worship and praise. Thanks for writing in.

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