Understanding the person and nature of Christ is something that will impact a person’s life. Knowing that Christ came and died for the forgiveness of one’s sins is of extreme importance. That is a major piece of knowing Christ but that does not tell them everything about Christ the person or His nature. What it can, and does, tell them is that He was able to take away their sins by His death. This is good to know but it does not tell them all that Christ is capable of doing for them.
God made a promise that He would send someone to defeat sin for humanity. This is seen in Genesis 3:15 when God speaks of the one that will crush the serpent’s head. This is the promise “that one day a son will be born who will defeat Satan and deliver his people from their sin” (Lawrence 3209). This son, that was to be sent, was/is a very special son. He could not be just any son. No, if he can take away the sins of God’s people, he must be very special. This son must be someone who has special care and concern for the people of God. He must be something beyond a regular person to be able to take away sin and make one pure. Coming to an understanding of this Son, who He is, and what His nature is, will strengthen one in their daily life.
Knowing His nature means knowing that only He could atone for this wicked world. This means He had to die in the place of everyone (Cf. Heb. 9:13-10:18). For Christ to be able to die He had to be a human being. Wayne Grudem wrote, “If Jesus had not been man, he could not have died in our place and paid the penalty that was due to us” (236). He goes on to say, quoting from Hebrews 2:16-17, that only a descendant of Abraham, not an angel, one who “was like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest…to make expiation for his people” (Grudem 236). He was a man like all men, and it took Him being a man so He could die. Although he was a man, He had to be more than a finite regular man to bear the weight of all man’s sins. He had to live a perfect life and never sin to atone. For this to happen He had to be God and not only man.
Grudem, in an extensive list, makes it clear that Jesus had to be God to atone for sins. He says that only an infinite God can bear the full penalty for all man’s sins; that salvation is from God and the whole of Scripture demonstrates that only God can save man; and that it takes someone who is fully God to be a mediator between man and God who can “both bring us back to God and also to reveal God most fully to us” (Grudem 241). Knowing this about Christ will make a tremendous impact on one and their daily lives.
In knowing that Christ is truly man and truly God one will be in amazement of the love that God has for them. Beth Jones speaks into this when she wrote, “In Jesus, in who he is, is our comfort and our hope. He is with us and for us right down to the very marrow, his and ours, in a way that is only possible because he is truly God and truly human” (120). She continues to say that “Jesus saves us by making our situation his own” (120). The implications of this are abounding. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, has come and took on the form of sinful man. He not only did this, but He suffered and died for sinful man. God the Son died the death that all humanity deserved.
It is not only that God the Son came and died but that He condescended to take on the form of sinful man so He could die. As Jones said, He is our comfort and hope because of doing this. Knowing that it took Christ becoming human to die and be of the flesh that needed salvation is an amazing thing to know. To know that Christ was truly human is to know that He can fully understand all situations one is faced with. He learned and “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (English Standard Version Luke 2:52). When one sees this, they will see that, “Jesus was a learner. He was not born with knowledge of language or culture…[He] studied the language, the culture, and the lifestyles of his people…” (Lingenfelter and Mayers 4). This does not mean that God the Son did not have this knowledge if He wanted it. No, it means that He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). Grudem says that this does not mean that He emptied Himself of His attributes, but that He became a man (240).
By becoming man Christ knows what it is like to be a man. He felt the pain in life, the temptations, the hardships in living, hunger, weariness, and other aspects of life as a human in this sin-filled fallen world. Christ did this for all humanity. He gave up His rightful glory and came and dwelt amongst man as Immanuel, which means “God [is] with us” (Howell 633). Knowing that Jesus came and suffered and learned amongst man allows one to know that they have a great high priest that can sympathize with them in every way (Heb. 4:15).
When one comes to understand these aspects of Christ, their life will be completely different. They will that they have the one true God with them. He knows exactly what they are going through. He has suffered in every way that all humanity because He bore all the guilt and shame for humanity (1 Pet. 2:24). He suffered for everyone and He does understand the struggles that everyone goes through. This is not all-knowing the person and nature of Jesus will do for someone. They will also desire to live in a manner that is glorifying to Him because He is God and He became man for them. He did something that He did not have to do, but because He loves man so much, He came into the world and died for man. When one fully grasps and understands this, they will not be able to live in a manner that is disgraceful to Christ.
Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Edited by Jeff Purswell, Zondervan, 1999.
Howell, David B. “Immanuel.” Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible, edited by David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, William B. Eerdmans, 2000, pp. 633-34.
Jones, Beth Felker. Practicing Christian Doctrine: An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically. Baker, 2014. Kindle Edition.
Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Crossway, 2010. Kindle Edition.
Lingenfelter, Sherwood G. and Marvin K. Mayers. Ministering Cross-Culturally: A Model for Effective Personal Relationships. 3rd ed., Baker Academic, 2016.
The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001.