Christians believe that the Jewish man named Jesus, born around 4 B.C. and executed by the Romans around A.D. 33, was also fully divine, and thus they teach that he is God. The gospels describe him as God’s Son (John 3.16) and attribute divine characteristics and powers to him. He could heal the sick (Luke 4.40), restore sight to the blind (Mark 10.46-52) and hearing to the deaf (Mark 7.31-35), make paralyzed people whole (Luke 5.17-25), cast out demons (Matthew 8.28-32), turn water into wine (John 2.1-11), raise the dead (Luke 7.11-15; John 11.38-44), walk on water (Mark 6.45-51), quiet storms (Mark 4.35-39), and multiply bread (Matthew 14.13-21). Early disciples worshipped him as God and prayed to him. Later New Testament writings referred to him as God (John 1.1), as Alpha and Omega (the Beginning and the End; Revelation 22.13), and as enthroned with God in heaven (Revelation 5.6).
The gospels are also clear, however, that Jesus was fully human. He was born into a Jewish peasant family; grew up as a carpenter’s son; had good friends; enjoyed good meals and went to parties; worked, wept, suffered, and died (Matthew 26.37; Mark 15.37; Luke 7.36, 22.44; John 11.1-3, 35). Jesus’ teachings are full of common references to human life that show his familiarity with the world of his day—farming, shepherding, weddings, funerals, cooking, politics, and more.
The Hebrew scriptures had prophesied about a Messiah who would come as a delivering hero of his people (Isaiah 42.1-4, 52.13-53.12; Daniel 7.13-14), and the Jews of Jesus’ day were anticipating his arrival as an opportunity to escape the oppression of the Romans and reestablish the ancient kingdom of David. Jesus said he was the Messiah (Mark 14.61-62), but he reinterpreted the meaning of this word. He taught his followers that the Messiah would deliver his people by setting them free from their sins (Matthew 26.27-28), and that he would do this by taking all human guilt on himself on the cross. He would initiate God’s victory over evil and introduce people to God’s kingdom, a kingdom of justice and love and divine presence (John 18.36-37). In accepting his forgiveness, his followers could be initiated into life with God; Jesus thus breached the gap between humanity and God.
As a human, Jesus could die on the cross; as God, he could absorb all the evil of the world. Because most early Christians were Jewish and thus strict monotheists, they struggled to understand how Jesus could also be God. Jesus’ identity as both a fully human being and a fully divine being was one of the key theological debates in the early years of the Church, and by the end of the 4th century, the language of Trinity (God as Father, Son, and Spirit) became the normative way to describe the relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus was the Son of God who became human. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” He is also called Savior, Lord, the Word of God, Creator, and the Image of God.
3/23/2021 6:32:40 PM