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In the last few decades or so, it's became fashionable to sing worship songs to Jesus as if he was the church's high school sweetheart. If we aren't careful, this radically changes the way we think about our Savior. Everything else that's true about him falls into the category of "Other."
One area that's happened especially is in the doctrine of the natures of Christ. It's not always seen as something significant since it's not immediately applicable to life's biggest problems, or so we think.
So this week's theological dictionary term is:
Hypostatic Union: noun. The joining of a human and the divine nature in the person of Jesus Christ without any damage done to the other nature or the creation of a third nature.
In Jesus Christ, something otherwise impossible occurred. The Son of God lowered himself, took on the form of a servant, and dwelt among us. Jesus was not equal parts man and God, but fully man and fully God. Jesus Christ was not a new kind of being, like a demigod. He was not Hercules. He was 100% human and 100% divine.
So why does this matter? Because Jesus is the fulfillment of 100s of years of prophecy. He's the suffering servant of Isaiah 42, 49, 50, and 53. He's the unblemished lamb the whole sacrificial system pointed to. He's the prophet better than Moses of Deuteronomy 18.
We need a better priest, someone to atone for our sins. But we need a better prophet, too, someone to teach us about God. We need a better king, someone who will obey God perfectly.
We also need a better sacrifice—a lamb free from the effects of sin who is willing to take on our sins. And if the blood of lambs and goats can't do that, then who can? God cannot take on sin, or he would be a sinner, and therefore not be God. So, using language very carefully, we can say that Jesus died on the cross. But we must be clear, the human nature of Jesus faced death, not the divine nature. God did not die on the cross.
Jesus had always been God, but he became a man at a specific point in time, IE, the incarnation. However, he did at times work within the specific limits of humanity. For instance, he was often thirsty or tired. He also, at times, would act in the power of his divinity. Jesus multiplied food, calmed the waves, and raised the dead.
Hebrews 2:17 says, "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people."
Jesus is our priest, faithful and final, and the incarnation made that possible.
Philippians 2:8-11 says, "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Because Jesus took on flesh (which was the plan from eternity past), because he was obedient as a man, and because he died as a man, God has made him king and given him full authority over us.
This also implies that Jesus Christ is still to this day fully God and fully man. They hypostatic union continues. Right now, Jesus is the God-man, interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. When he comes again, he'll bring all of his fleshy divinity with him.
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