Column: The Incarnation—Truly God and Truly Man

Published 11:29 am Wednesday, December 27, 2023

By Hank Walker | Pastor at Friendship Baptist Church

In my last article, I mentioned the hypostatic union—a doctrine explaining how Jesus’ divine and human natures are unified. Christians understand that Jesus was “the Word,” who “became flesh,” but beyond that things get fuzzy. How, for instance, could Jesus be truly man and truly God without being some mixture of the two? How could Jesus endure the cross, die, and spend three days in a tomb, while also “upholding the universe by the word of His power?” Questions like these are answered by this critical doctrine. It is easier to understand complex subjects by their parts, so let’s consider the following:

First, Jesus is God. He is the second person in the Trinity (Tri-Unity). This core Christian doctrine teaches that God exists in three co-equal, co-eternal Persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each unified as one God—not as three Gods (that’s tri-theism). The cause of “unity” in Tri-Unity is called essence—meaning that each divine Person shares a single mind, attributes, thoughts, will, and plan. What one Person thinks, knows, or does, all do, inseparably.

Second, Jesus is human. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to Mary, Jesus had all the natural limitations common to humanity. Born helpless—dependent on parents for security, comfort, and nourishment—He grew physically, emotionally, and intellectually like other boys. He learned a trade from Joseph. He was taught by His parents and His synagogue to live according to the Law. He kept the letter and the spirit of the moral, ceremonial, and civil aspects of the Law. He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Third, the union of natures came through addition—but, this addition of a human nature diluted neither nature. In the incarnation, Jesus never accessed His own deity—choosing, instead, to live under human limitations. When Jesus performed signs and wonders, cast out demons, or raised the dead, it was exclusively by the Holy Spirit’s power. In fact, prior to His baptism, Jesus never performed a single recorded miracle.

Finally, Jesus’ perfect submission to God—as a man—qualified Him to be the “second Adam,” in whom we find the new birth. In heaven, Jesus continues to be the God-Man, and forever will be.  He still bears the prints of His love in the palms of His hands.

Soli Deo Gloria