How can Jesus be God in the flesh? What are the implications for us?
John tells us in John 1, that Jesus is the Word, the logos, the expression of God, so that humanity can understand the Father. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He is God in human form, yet never divesting himself of his deity.
This truth cannot be understood in a physical sense, because nothing exists in the human experience and knowledge to match it. Spiritually, we must accept this difficult truth on a different level.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet says, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” /1
Understanding Jesus as God in the flesh requires that we open our minds to something larger than ourselves.
Jesus and God both retained their characteristics while Jesus was on earth. They enjoyed “uninterrupted communion” as deity. /2 There was never a time when they did not exist together.
Jesus has always been at work. “There never was a thing which did not depend on Him for its very existence.”/3
Jesus has all authority (Matthew 28:18). Yet, he always yields to the Father.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10, NKJV).
We may find this to be contradictory because we cannot conceive of this level of humility. Jesus is God but he is completely obedient to the Father, in all things. They have a “habitual love” but Jesus always yields to the Father./4
God allowed Jesus to create the universe and he gave the Son a kingdom. Jesus said that he would build his kingdom (Matthew 16:18) but he also said he would return the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24). This perceived contradiction is instead a glimpse into their relationship.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).
Jesus can act on his own but would never consider it. He is perfectly obedient and the Father showers him with blessings.
“It is not simply that He does the not act in independence of the Father. He cannot act in independence of the Father.”/5
God established Jesus as the judge at the end of time (John 5:22-23; Acts 17:30-31). He wants the respect for his Son as Jesus is the Creator, Savior, King, Lord and Judge. He fills every aspect of the plan of salvation and he has the full authority and love of the Heavenly Father.
We cannot hope to approach God without going through Jesus (John 14:6). They cannot be separated but Jesus stands between us and the Father (John 14:8-10).
Failing to honor the Son is disrespect for the Father. We cannot separate them. We cannot mistreat the Son, hoping God will not take it personally. What is done to one is done to the other.
We cannot circumnavigate their communion, we can only bow in their presence and let them reign in our lives!
2/ Leon Morris, “The Gospel According to John” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 312.
3/ Ibid., 73.
4/ Ibid., 313.
5/ Ibid., 312.