Day 19: January 19, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Luke 2:40 Read Online

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.

—Luke 2:40 (HCSB)

Fully Man & Fully God
by Zach Van Gieson, Children's Minister, Brentwood Baptist, The Church at Station Hill

Jesus grew and became strong? But how can this be, we might ask, since Jesus is the perfect Son of God and second member of the Trinity?

This verse, along with Luke 2:52, confounds us in more ways than one. Many of us have no problem acknowledging that Jesus was a human being. In fact, some have chosen to emphasize this fact to the point of neglect of His divinity.

In the early church, some outright denied the fact that Jesus was divine. But this stands in direct opposition to clear biblical teachings found in such places as Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:15-21, and Hebrews 1:1-4. Therefore, we must reject the notion that Jesus was just a man.

On the other hand, we often choose to point to the fact that Jesus, as God, did what only God could do. He healed people, forgave their sins, and ultimately gave His life as a ransom for many, all while living a sinless life in perfect obedience to God the Father.

As Christians, we must simultaneously affirm that Jesus Christ was both fully human and fully God. This isn’t some theological platitude reserved for the halls of academia; rather it affects each us to the very core.

Consider the implications of embracing Jesus only as a human being.

We might simply reduce Him to a clever teacher whom we should attempt to emulate. We would feed the poor, have compassion on the sick, and perhaps agitate religious authorities, but would we be concerned with any eternal spiritual realities? Would we look beyond the symptoms of the broken world we live in and see the real cause of the chaos around us?

Many in the church today have chosen this route. We simply want to look after the physical needs of the broken and hurting around us, neglecting the very real spiritual need they have to be reconciled with a holy God.

In fairness, what would happen if we only focused on the divinity of Jesus? Admittedly, this is where I often drift. I want to affirm that Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself, moreover that God willingly gave Himself as an atonement for the sins of mankind.

Jesus really is the answer to the ills of the world and as noted above. But Philippians 2 teaches that He was recognized as such, all to the glory of God the Father. But is this fact the only part of Jesus we should embrace? In short—no.

Jesus was all of the things we’ve previously stated. He had compassion, healed the sick, challenged the status quo, and promoted a different way of life focused on serving others. Yet His ultimate aim was to march towards the cross of Calvary and willingly die there as a substitute for sinful humanity.

We can and should confidently proclaim that Jesus grew, just as a man grows. Likewise, we can assert with confidence that even in His progression as a human being, in no way was He ever less than 100 percent divine. In a logical, rational world, this reality is sometimes hard for us to grasp. But it’s what the Bible teaches and thus deserves our full acceptance.

This week, as you grow more into the likeness of Jesus, consider how you might move towards a richer appreciation of Jesus’ humanity and divinity. Jesus’ earthly example is indeed worth following, and His earthly death is indeed worth embracing. For in it, we find our only hope of restoration and fellowship with our Father in heaven.

Reflection Questions

  1. Which “identity” of Jesus do you tend to emphasize most? His human example or His divine sacrifice on our behalves? How can we move toward a fuller appreciation of both?
  2. What does it say about our own need for growth if Jesus, the Son of God, had to grow?
  3. As you read the Gospels, what habits or practices do you notice Jesus doing most often to stay in touch with the Father?

About the Author

Zach Van Gieson

From Greenville, South Carolina, Zach is a graduate of MTSU with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He’s currently pursuing his Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and serves The Church At Station Hill as Children's Minister. His goal is simple: to ensure the Church partners with parents to form a biblical foundation for the lives of some of our youngest worshippers. In his personal time, he enjoys being with his wife Rachel and their daughter, Morgan. He’s a self-proclaimed news junkie and loves studying history on the side. Beyond that, you’ll find him involved in some type of outdoor activity year round—from deer and duck hunting to trout and bass fishing. Besides Scripture, the times he hears God the clearest are the times of solitude in His creation.