He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:15-23
Jesus of Nazareth is the front and center character in the narrative known as Christianity. He is, without a doubt, the most controversial figure in all history. But many have no idea who he really is.
I was amazed in 1964 while street witnessing with a group of friends in Wichita, Kansas to run into a young man, probably in his very late teen years, who, when I asked him what he knew about Jesus, responded, “Who is he? I’ve never heard of him.” Unfortunately, he was in a hurry to catch a bus, and I didn’t get to speak with him much more.
We can summarize the Biblical teaching about the person of Christ as follows: Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever (Thanks again, Wayne Grudem).
We can see this in the passage in Colossians above. Fully God: “by him, all things were created,” “and for him,” “he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together,” “in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” As God, he is the creator of everything and he is the object of creation, the reason for its existence. He is before all things, that is before anything else existed. Dirt wasn’t around as “basic materials” for him to use to “create.” He created all things from nothing. Only God is eternal; matter isn’t eternal. He maintains all of the “laws of nature” by his own active power.
We can also see that Jesus Christ is fully human: “And you…he has now reconciled in the body of his flesh,” “the firstborn from the dead,” (only people die, God doesn’t die), “the blood of his cross.” Jesus was a real human being who bled real blood, had a real body of flesh (and still does for that matter although it has been changed in the resurrection) and really suffered and died.
All of this could only be accomplished by a person who is fully God and fully man but one person, not two persons in one body. Hard to wrap your head around? You bet! It is a mystery that God has revealed in the Scriptures. Without his revelation, we wouldn’t know it, let alone understand it.
Was this really necessary? Yes. As our substitute, he had to be holy and sinless. Since he was conceived by the Holy Spirit he did not inherit the sin of Adam; he is called holy. If he were just a human, he would have the same problem we have, the sin of Adam. He would have to die for his own sin, not as a substitute for us and our sin. He also had to be a human for his sacrifice to be effective. Only a human can die for a human, and it be effectual. For centuries animals were sacrificed for sins. But they didn’t perfect us. Christ’s sacrifice, once for all, does.
It is a wonderfully amazing mystery we are privileged to participate in. How can we do less than worship from the depths of our hearts this God-man who has taken upon himself forever a body so he could redeem us? One day, in the New Jerusalem, we will get the chance to give him a big holy hug and thank him “in the flesh.” I can’t wait, how about you?