45 days until the first Lord’s Day of Advent.
Yesterday, in our co-ed theology reading group, we were discussing the human soul. Toward the last ten minutes of the hour, the conversation turned to Jesus and His fully human nature. This group had discussed the Trinity for several weeks last summer, and elements of that study came back up, as well.
We reminded each other of several key elements of our confession of the Trinity: the Persons are distinguished (not divided) in the Trinity, perichoresis/περιχώρησις (one group member remembered it as “the dance” between the Persons of the one God), and how Christ “operates” according to both of His natures. I used to fly through theology proper (the study of God in Himself) when teaching Systematic Theology. I wish I could go back and change that. What I love is how theology proper connects with Christology. Yesterday, theology proper made its way to Christology via anthropology (the theology of humanity). A rich journey. Calvin started his Institutes with the statement, “all…true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves” (1.1.1). In the section we were considering yesterday, he repeated this idea: “…we cannot have a clear and complete knowledge of God unless it is accompanied by a corresponding knowledge of ourselves” (1.15.1). He means that knowing ourselves as created requires a knowledge of Him as Creator; it also means that we must know ourselves as needing a redeemer before knowing Him as Redeemer. These meet in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I suggested to them that it’s helpful to break down the name and title, “Jesus Christ, Son of God” (Mark 1:1; John 20:31; Acts 8:37; Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 John 5:20; 2 John 3).
He is eternally the Son of God, fully and truly God in His essence. The essence and being of God is not divided; He is simple (as opposed to composite). He does not change. This is the Son, distinguished in Person from the Father and Son, yet one with them as God in essence/substance/nature/being.
He was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. On the eighth day after His birth He was given the name “Jesus” by Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:21). This is the name of His human nature. Of course, the name has a theological (Matthew 1:21) and historical (the name “Jesus” is the same as “Joshua”) import. It’s a name, however, given to Him in His newborn humanity.
“Christ” is the title for God’s chosen King over all (see Psalm 2). This is a name properly His after His resurrection, when He had received full authority in all things (Matthew 28:18). It is a name related to the Davidic covenant.
Even as the Son, in His humanity, is located at the right hand of the Father in heaven, His divine nature is spiritually involved in the “dance” with the Father and Spirit as fully God. He is not limited in His divinity.
This is glorious mystery. We joked that as you begin to get a grasp of how to speak of the Trinity rightly, we are introduced into the union of eternally divine and human in the Son and have to work through even more amazing concepts.
He is worthy of our studying, discussion, learning, and mental wrestling – this, too, is worship (especially when we do it together). It is obedience to the command to love God with all of our minds (Matthew 22:37//Mark 12:30//Luke 10:27). Give Him glory by working to think and speak rightly of Him, beloved!