“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
“Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men” Philippians 2:5-7
“And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by the angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
While the term “God-man” may be foreign to many of you, the concept is a pillar in the common faith held by all believers. Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. He is not 50% God and 50% man. Neither is He the god who put on flesh temporarily and sort-of acted like a man but no longer has any association with the flesh. Neither was he a lower being than God, a super-human, or any other heresy that can be conceived. Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% man, thus a God-man.
I write this post partially so that all the believers can have a proper, orthodox understanding of Christ, but I primarily write this that we may know exactly who this wonderful One living in our spirit is and what He has accomplished by becoming a man.
The Only Begotten Son of God
“No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:18
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. This is where many young believers struggle with the understanding of Christ being God. They think (and I know because I have had these thoughts), “If Jesus is God, why doesn’t it just say so? It clearly says ‘Son of God,’ so he must be less than God right?” This reasoning seems logical, but in light of the whole Bible, it falls short.
The flaw with this sort of reasoning is a matter of elementary science class. We learned when we were young that we do not actually come from storks but from our human parents. In the same way, dogs beget dogs, cows beget cows, etc. When you possess the title “Son of God,” that means that you are God. The reason “Son” is added is not to denote a lesser being or a person of a different nature, but rather denotes the Lord’s position in the God-head.
To understand the Triune-God, we must not be limited by our reasonings and logic, for Triune implies paradox. God is one but three. The way the church fathers understood it was that they are one in substance but three in distinction or persons. The reason I don’t like the use of “persons” is that today it means something very different than it did 1800 years ago:
“Modern-day people must understand that neither Basil nor the two Gregories thought of the latter (persons) individualistically…the tritheistic implications cannot be avoided…When Basil referred to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as ‘three persons’ (three hypostases), he meant that they are relations within the one Godhead that is an infinite, transcendent and perfectly simple (unified) being…The main difference is the source. The Father has no source. The Son and the Spirit find their sources in the Father in different ways.” ¹
So the Son is the eternally begotten in the God-head, who is only distinct in the fact that He is the Son of the Father in the One Triune God. (For more proof on the Son’s being God, see Heb. 1:9; Rm. 9:5; 1 Jn. 5:20; Is. 9:6; Jn. 1:1; Jn. 20:28).
The Son of Man
“Now the origin of Jesus Christ was in this way: His mother, Mary, after she had been engaged to Joseph, before they came together, was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18
“And Jesus said to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have roosts, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 8:20
Jesus was born of a woman. Using the elementary school logic from above, we conclude that because he was born of man, he is a man! This is why Jesus uses the title “Son of Man” not only here in 8:20, but also excessively throughout His earthly ministry. This title was used far more often than “Son of God,” for the Lord came to be a genuine man. This is displayed when Satan or his demons tempted the Lord, addressing him as the Son of God, but the Lord always rebutted from the position of a man.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all respects like us, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
The Lord lived as a genuine man. He hungered, thirsted, learned, tired, grew, and was tempted in all respects like us (Matt. 4:2; Jn. 19:28; Lk. 2:40).
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” John 3:13
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'” Matthew 27:46
Jesus died as a man. This is actually very misunderstood by most believers. God did not die on the cross. God cannot die. Jesus, as the Son of Man, died on the cross. Every time the Lord predicted His death, He referred to Himself as the Son of Man, never as the Son of God.
When God forsook Him on the cross, He forsook Him in His humanity. God cannot forsake Himself, and the Trinity cannot be split or separated. While the man Jesus took our sins upon Himself and was forsaken by God, the Son of God remained wholly one with the Father in perfect unity and fellowship.
“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Bring your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.'” John 20:27
“That God has fully fulfilled this promise to us their children in raising up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; this day have I begotten You.'” Acts 13:33
The Lord raised as a man in a glorified body. This body was physical but not natural like our own. It was a body that was fully glorified. The Lord’s resurrection was considered to be a birth according to Acts 13:33 and John 16:16-24. The Lord as the Son of God is eternally begotten from the Father, but as the Son of Man, He was begotten on the day of resurrection. The reason it can be considered a birth is that the divine life penetrated His humanity and brought it into divinity. Now the Son of Man has been divinized in His flesh to bring humanity into glory!
“Then what if you saw the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” John 6:62
“And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'” Acts 7:56
Lastly, the Lord Jesus, as a genuine, glorified man, has ascended into the heavens and is at the right hand of God. There is a man on the throne (Ezk. 1:26)! This is truly marvelous. This is the fulfillment of Genesis 1:26-27. There is finally a man who can represent God with His dominion and carry out His righteous judgement (Jn. 5:27).
So the Lord Jesus is a God-Man. He is fully God, eternally begotten from the Father; He is fully man, born of a woman, sinless in His living, suffering and dying on our behalf, resurrecting in a glorified body, and ascending to the throne as Lord and Christ of all (Acts 2:36). May we see this wonderful fact and praise the Lord!
¹ Roger Olson, The Story of Christian Theology, pp. 185-186