Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of Jesus

Question What is Jesus like?

Answer Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is without sin and He remains the same forever. He is the radiance of the Father, and is the only mediator between God and man.

Scripture 1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Explanation| We’re looking at what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ. In our previous question, we looked at who Jesus is. Now, we’ll explore further what He is like.

Jesus is fully God and fully man. Like we learned in our previous question, Jesus is unique. He is one-of-a-kind. And, the reason no one is truly like Him is because He, alone, is both God and man. What does this mean? First, it means that He has two different natures. By nature, I mean what makes a something that something and not something else. For example, what makes a dog (and all dogs, for that matter), a dog and not a cat? Or even, what makes a dog (and all animals), an animal and not a plant? Similarly, what makes God, God, and what makes a human, a human?1 This is what I mean by nature. As hard as it is to understand, it is wondrously true and necessary to believe that Jesus has a divine (God) nature and a human (man) nature.2 Second, it also means that He has both natures in their fullness. To put it another way, Jesus isn’t 50% God and 50% human. No, He is 100% God and 100% human.3 And, He didn’t just appear to be one or the other, either. He is God, and He is man. All that God is that makes God, God, Jesus is. All that humans are that make humans, human, Jesus is. Third, it further means that He is both God and man, simultaneously. Jesus wasn’t (and isn’t) sometimes God, and then at other times man. He didn’t (and doesn’t) change back and forth between being God and being man. While He is fully man, He is also fully God. While He is fully God, He is also fully man. Fourth, it means that He is both God and man, forever. Not eternal, but forever. Meaning, the Son hasn’t always been human, but He has always been God. There never was a time when the Son became God. But there was a time when the Son became man. From that time—the time when He was sent by the Father and took upon Himself human flesh and blood—now and forever, He remains fully human.4

Jesus is without sin and remains the same forever. Because Jesus, as fully man, is also fully God, do you know what that means? It means that Jesus is without sin. Sinless. Perfect. He never sinned.5 He never will sin. Now, you might be thinking, “But I thought you said that Jesus is fully human? Doesn’t the Bible say that all humans sin?” Good point. Yes, every human sins, because every human is a sinner (Romans 3:23; 5:12). But note this very carefully—sin is not an essential characteristic of what makes a human, a human. Adam and Eve were fully human before they ever sinned. All believers will still be fully human even after they are permanently set free from sin, one day. And, Jesus is both the only exception and the best example of being fully human without sin, from His birth, always, and forever. As a child, He never sinned against Joseph or Mary, or even any of His siblings. As a grown man, He never gave in to temptation to sin, nor did He ever tempt others to sin.6 And because He is sinless, He—and He alone—is qualified to pay for our sin.7 But let’s look at another characteristic, too. Because Jesus is fully God, it also means that He remains the same forever. God doesn’t change. And because Jesus is God, He doesn’t change, either.8 To be clear, the Son did take on humanity. Jesus, the Son, did grow up in His humanity. As a human, Jesus did actually live and then die. But this isn’t the change we’re talking about. Rather, Jesus doesn’t say one thing, then say something different. He doesn’t make promises, then break them. He doesn’t go part of the way, then quit after a while. He doesn’t tell us He is one thing, but then act contrary to what He’s said about who He is. No, we can completely trust Jesus all the time because never changes. 

Jesus is the radiance of the Father and the only mediator between God and man. We touched on these two characteristics in our previous question. What does it mean that He is the ‘radiance of the Father’? Before we think about an answer, don’t forget—Jesus is fully God and is the same God as God the Father. So, Jesus isn’t less than God, nor is He a different God than the Triune God. But, as God—and the same God, too—how does Jesus function in relation to the Father? The book of Hebrews tells us that, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). The Son radiates the glory of God. The Son is how we experience the nature (or, God-ness) of God. Think about our sun, for example. How do you and I experience our sun? How do we know about it and benefit from it? Is it because each one of us has actually seen and touched its gaseous substance? No. Rather, we experience our sun by its rays or radiance—by what it puts off, what comes from it. Its light and warmth. In a similar way, the Son is how we know about and benefit from the Father. Jesus, the Son, is the best way—the only way—to see the Father and to relate to Him as our Father.9 What does it mean that Jesus is also the ‘only mediator between God and man’? A mediator is a go-between. Someone who represents one person to another person. A mediator helps bring two people together who are at odds with each other. Now, when it comes to you and me and God, how does Jesus function? The Bible tells us that we, as sinners, are born against God. And, as a result of our sin, God’s wrath is already, rightly, set against us. God is not at fault. We are. But, we—God and us—are at odds with each other. And, this characteristic of Jesus helps us understand that He—and, only Him, because He is fully God and fully man—is the go-between. He is the one who makes it possible for us to come near to God as our Father, and for the Father’s wrath to no longer be upon us.10

This is what the Bible teaches about Jesus.

____________________

1 1 Corinthians 1539 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (See also, Acts 14:15; Romans 1:20)

2 Colossians 2For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.

3 Hebrews 214 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil… 17 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.

4 Hebrews 720 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.

5 Hebrews 415 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

6 1 Peter 221 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

7 2 Corinthians 521 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (See also, Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19)

8 Hebrews 13Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

9 John 118 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

10 Ephesians 213 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.