The Spirituality of Jesus, pt 1

jesus-healing-blind.jpgQuestion: By what power did Jesus exude such compassion, integrity, courage, strength, patience, grace, resistance to temptation, and love? (Multiple choice: pick one…)

A. Duh… of course he did those things, he’s God. His own Divine Power.
B. The authors of Scripture exaggerated his accomplishments; he didn’t have that power.
C. He was born that way; it was an innate power.
D. He grew that way by using the same power available to every child of God today.
E. None of the above.
F. A and C above.
G. C and D above.
H. Enough already.

And the answer is…

250px-nicaea.jpgWell, before I give you the answer, let me affirm that Jesus is fully God and fully human. He always was and will be fully God, as much as the Father and Spirit, one in the Trinity. And ever since his Incarnation on Christmas, he also has been and will be forevermore, fully human–as human as we are, except for sin. Two natures, human and divine, united in one Person forever. Do not construe anything here to deny that historic teaching on Jesus.

With that in mind, the answer is: D. He grew that way by using the same power available to every child of God today. (Did you get it? Which one did you choose? You can leave comment below…)

jesuspraying.jpegMost Christians undercut the accomplishment of Jesus. We routinely dismiss the fact that he had to grow up spiritually and it wasn’t easy. And we routinely dismiss the fact that as a human he felt the limitations of our humannes to the max, including the full force of temptation.

So we become modern Sabellians: “Of course Jesus resisted temptation; he was God.” Or perhaps Apollinarians: “Of course Jesus loved his enemies; his body may have been human but his mind was divine.” As if Jesus were a mer-man, half human, half divine. Or maybe Eutychians: “Jesus could do all those things because his deity blended with his humanity and made it supernatural.”

Whichever ancient heresy you might espouse, rest assured that Scripture teaches otherwise. And also rest assured that even though these debates may rage in all their technical mumbo-jumbo in the halls of religious academia, they are utterly relevent to the typical Christian on the street, to the point of perplexity and exasperation.

If Jesus faced the troubles of his life using his own divine ominipotence, then we’re all sunk. He would not be our example and we could never do what he did (Sabellianism).

If Jesus faced the troubles of his life as the mind of deity encased in the body of a human, then he is likewise irrelevant as a model for our daily lives (Apollinarianism).

merman.jpegIf Jesus faced the troubles of his life as a kind of divine-human hybrid… a little less than God, but a little more than us–a kind of Superman– we’re equally sunk (Eutychianism).

But take heart. Each of those person-on-the-street errors was correctly adjudged to contradict the Scriptural data, and was rejected by the Church. I’m sure there were a few indiscriminate floggings and cracked knuckles administered in the process, but we repudiate those things, and will have to leave them for another blog.

Let us simply affirm that whatever Jesus did as our example, he did in such a way that we can follow. He restricted himself, voluntarily, to the use of powers that would be available to every child of God. And he grew in his strength and abilities to use those powers.

“40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40, NKJV.jesuspharisees.jpeg

“52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52, NKJV.

Do not undercut the incredible accomplishments of Jesus, and do not dismiss his relevance for your life.

THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF JESUS IS THE PROTOTYPE FOR THE SPIRITUAL LIVES OF HIS FOLLOWERS… for all of us who claim his name.

By what power did Jesus exude such compassion, integrity, courage, strength, patience, grace, resistance to temptation, and love? Let’s outline his power-sources in the next blog. Thanks for stopping by.

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20 thoughts on “The Spirituality of Jesus, pt 1

  1. Did you mean Jesus will have His “human” nature forever?? (Two natures, human and divine, united in one Person forever.) What use is it now? I can see Him “taking” on the human one while here on earth, but why forever?

  2. Jean,
    Yes, he must have his human nature for a whole lot of reasons. If not, when and where did he shed it? Where did his body go? Also, he is the first fruits of all of us; a human (God-human) sits on the throne of creation, and we sit with him, in him, on that throne. Because he lives (humanly) we too shall live.
    Bill

  3. Bill,

    If Jesus had a divine nature and a human nature (separate and distinct that “concur” in one Person), could we also say that he had two separate and distinct wills (one human and one divine)…?

    Grace.
    Joe

  4. I have a friend who complains often that we (as evangelicals) don’t preach the Incarnation or Trinity enough. They are, he argues, the doctrines that make the crucifixion and resurrection “work.”

    However, he wants them preached for academic reasons. I think the concrete, practical applications of “understanding” the Trinity and the Incarnation make them worth it as well. Think of how powerful it is for us to be the “body of Christ” if we grasp what the embodied Christ was really about! Exciting stuff!

    Awesome post. I couldn’t even think of a troublesome question to ask! 🙂

    Godspeed,
    Jon

  5. Bill,

    I was thinking along the same lines as you, but then I ran into this verse…

    Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    The Book of Hebrews mentions that the Person of Jesus had “to learn obedience” in order to be our great high priest (having suffering temptation like us but without sin).

    It seems that the idea of obedience to suffering — even death on a cross — implies personal will (such as noted in the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, quoted above)…(??)

    My point: The Person of the Father and the Person of the Son subsist within the same essence, however, they are still separate and distinct persons.

    Let’s assume this — If there was only ONE will contained in both the Person of Jesus and the Father, would we say that the Son and Father are therefore one essence (and therefore subsist as one Person)…? Was the will of the humanity of Jesus of the same essence as that of the divine Father…?

    Here is the obverse of the point, above… Note the following when the divine will was evident in the Person of Christ:–

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matt 23:37).

    In this verse the Person of Jesus speaks of his will during a time (some several centuries preceding the appearance of his human nature by birth to Mary)… That is, while the Person of Jesus was expressing the words of his will as a Person, he was speaking from his divine nature, which “concurred” with the will of the Father. I think that was your point in your response, above…(?)

    In other words, to summarize…

    (a) the Person of Jesus at times spoke from his human nature, viz., “Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty'” (John 19:28). Point–The divine nature of Jesus does not thirst.

    (b) the Person of Jesus at times spoke from his divine nature, viz., “before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Point–The human nature of Jesus (as was born from Mary) did not preexist his birth from Mary.

    (c) the Person of Jesus at times spoke from BOTH his divine nature AND his human nature, viz., “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The human nature and the divine nature “subsisted” in one Person.

    Keep up the GREAT topics. I try to comment on most of them with the strict intent of edification. The recent blog on the (bizarre) food on the FoodTV network through me off for a loop. (smile)

    Grace.
    Joe

  6. Great Questions Joe. They make me really think.

    Also Max. I don’t necessarily disagree with you when you say that Jesus will be fully divine and fully human throughout eternity, but what do you mean by fully human?

    I do know that flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of heaven, which is one thing that has to do with being human. I also know that it says in 1 Cor. that we will be given a new body.
    It almost seems to me that Jesus new glorified body after he was resurrected was a bit different than the one that went into the grave. It still had the wounds and similiar appareance (many of his disciples didn’t recognize him) but he could now walk through walls, dissappear, fly up into the clouds (which means he no longer needed to breathe oxygen), and he wasn’t necessarily fond of people touching him yet (because he hadn’t ascended to the Father).

    We do know that he still liked a good meal of fish, but it seems like his ascended body was quite similiar and different than his earthly body. I would love to hear what you say concerning this, as i have found no real answers ever on this subject. Thank you

    Jon

  7. Also Max, one other question.

    Wouldn’t you say that we as people have two wills. The will of the flesh, which is emnity with the spirit, and the will of the spirit, which is life and peace. I don’t know about others but I constantly do what i don’t want to do, and don’t do what i want to do, and sometimes really do do what i want to do.

    Jon

  8. Jon,

    I think that you, the individual, have one will. (The original meaning of “individual” means that you cannot be divided.) However, your will — as a believer — is under the influence of two natures–the Adamic and the Christ-like nature.

    Our Lord always had an incorruptible body, because he did not have the Old Adamic Sin Nature;– however, he was mortal, which is HOW he died (the WHY was his will — that is, he submitted himself as a lamb for the slaughter). By the way, the incorruptible body of Jesus is no longer mortal (the resurrection made his body immortal). Thus Jesus is both incorruptible and immortal now and forevermore. (Amen.)

    We, on the other hand, have a corruptible body, and, as you know, we are also mortal — both will be changed at our Lord’s coming (this is the topic of 1 Cor 15).

    What is unusual — and I say very, very unusual — is that we NOW possess the living nature of the Person of Christ (whilst we still possess the mortal, corruptible body we now yet have). Thus there is conflict (see Galatians 5:17).

    When we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, we receive this New Nature as well. (So our bodies — with this New Nature — is also a Temple of the resident Holy Spirit.) This is what it means to say when you hear the term “circumcised heart” — i.e., we are alive to God (“born again”) because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    When Abraham was circumcised, the resulting life (birth of Isaac) was the fulfillment of the Promise to Abraham of a son. (Abraham believed God that he [God] would pull this off — notwithstanding that his body [of Abraham] was dead for procreation of children — so God declared him righteous for that faith — thus the faith resulted in “life” despite the presence of a “dead” body.) Ergo, we have the circumcision or removal of that which is dead (see Colossians 2:13). When we believe the Promise (getting saved), we are like Abraham, and so we receive the righteousness of God — in fact, we are sons of Abraham (see Romans 2:29, which spells out the definition of circumsion for us as Christians) — thus we are alive.

    This whole idea was the the topic with Nicodemus — being born again — but the concept went right over his head. Jesus said to him, “You call yourself a teacher of Israel, and ye know NOT these things…?”

    You ask about doing things that you detest. The reason you “cave in” to your Old Adamic Nature is because — yes, and this is not a surprise — because it comes naturally to your nature! Our Old Adamic nature is “natural,” and so we have to “put on” — and I mean constantly — the New Man, which is that New Nature that I was just alluding to earlier (based on the indwelling Spirit of God — “circumcision of the heart”). See Eph 4:20-24 and Col 3:5-11. Pastor Bill talks about how we sometimes accrue massive amopunts of junk over the years, so this process of “putting on” the New Nature takes much patience, and therefore, much suffering in life. Suffering + patience = growing faith.

    This indeed is a fascinating topic.

    Grace.
    Joe

  9. Good words Joe. Thanks for clearing that up in my mind. I guess I really didn’t want to say (two wills), but instead, two natures fighting over this one will. Although I know a lot of scripture that backs this up I have the second witness of my own experience which seems to ring true with what Paul talks about much of the time (in regards to the spiritual man vs. natural/carnal man).

    A couple of questions for you Joe, since you seem to be someone that knows a thing or two about our natures and our bodies.

    If Jesus’s body became immortal after the resurrection, is it safe to say we will put on similiars bodies at the resurrection? Although they look like flesh and blood, they must be very different if they are to be immortal?

    Secondly, in regards to our two natures. Would you say that our spiritual man is one with the spirit of God (Holy Spirit). Since we are the body of Christ, with Jesus being the head, is it safe to say that we all (who follow Christ as head), have the same spirit?

    Hope this makes some sense,

    thanks

  10. Jon,

    Do you remember doubting Thomas…? Jesus told the disciples, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).

    One of the heresies in the First Century was Docetism (i.e., the Person of Jesus was God, however the humanity part of him was just an optical illusion). We can say, therefore (Luke 24:39), that the Person of Jesus now subsists in his human nature in a (resurrected) human body that is now immortal and incorruptible — full “flesh and bones.” First Corinthians 15 relates that we too will be like him — immortal and incorruptible — at our resurrection. If you renew your mind (Rom 12:1-2) on this SPECIFIC promise, you will “be pure even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-4).

    Finally, you ask if our New Nature is the same as that of the divine Nature. What an interesting question(!), about which I have never put that much attention. Here’s my answer, and I hope it does not sound equivocal: — We have the same righteousness and eternal life of our Lord Jesus. In as much as our bodies will be as his body is, so too our New Natures is as his is.

    HOWEVER, there is a “mystery” that we are ontological members of the Body of the Person of Christ, the head — i.e., one flesh with him (Eph 5:30-32) — yet we are still separate persons.

    So to answer your question: Yes, we share the life of our Savior — in fact we are members of His Body, so instead of “share” we can say we “are” living creatures of eternal life — yet we too are also individuals who will yet receive our own respective, incorruptible, immortal bodies at our resurrection in the future.

    Think of the wild olive branch that is grafted into the living tree (Romans 11:16-18). Is the branch the same as the tree? That is, can we say that the vine and the branches are really ONE entity, or TWO entities…? (John 15:5) You see the tension of logic, but you also see the texture of the profound wisdom of God and his grace.

    Grace.
    Joe

  11. Hi Joe,

    I would say the answer is no, our new nature is not the same as the divine nature. We do not become gods. Our new nature reflects the moral qualities of the divine nature, however. That is the intent of 2 Pet 1:4.

    The unity of the believer and Christ is as hard to describe as the unity between the two natures of Christ. That’s why the church, very wisely, has contented itself to describe how the two natures do NOT interact, rather than how they do interact. See the Chalcedonian Creed for a good example.

    Joe… it’s time to come out of the closet. Who are you? Great theological insight. Email me directly and tell me a little about yourself if you like.

    And Steve… I’m still reviewing NT Wright’s article. I haven’t forgotten.

    Bill

  12. Joe, Jon, Max,

    Great discussion and tons of biblical wisdom. Thanks for your contribution. I’d like to say that I dislike the term “nature” when speaking of the flesh. I think it says too much. It gives the flesh a higher status than it really enjoys in a Christian. A true Christian is identified with the new nature, and disidentified with the old nature. Your nature is what you are, and what you are is a child of God, who acts like what you used to be–contrary to nature.

    The NIV unfortunately uses the word “nature” to translate the word “flesh” as “old nature” or “sin nature.”

    I prefer “flesh” or “Inner Mess.”

    Bill

  13. Bill,

    I am Joe Lukowski — I was in your youth group at the North Side Gospel Center some 30 years ago. I live in San Antonio at the moment. Just retired from the Air Force, and I just completed my M.A. (Biblical Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary. Got three kids (one on the way) — I married late like you. I am currently looking into the process of ordination at my local church. (I am sharing your “Life Map” concept with my church leadership at the moment!!) In the meantime I will be doing some contractor work for the Air Force.

    That’s it in a nutshell. I hope you do not mind an old veteran popping in and out of your blog — with the sole intent of edification.

    Grace.
    Joe

  14. Maxgrace,

    Help me a bit more out on this one because i’ve been thinking about it all day (which i guess is a good thing).

    I agree to a point with you that our Spirit and God’s Spirit aren’t ‘the same” as you said, but isn’t it our spiritual man that communicates with the spirit of God? (Rom 8).

    As you alluded to, we have been given the ‘divine nature'(2 Pete 1:4). If it was the reflection of God’s Spirit wouldn’t the author say we have been given the reflection/or image of the divine nature?

    If we are the body of Christ, and Jesus is the head of that body, than as we are in tune with Him (Jesus-the head), we all walk in that same Spirit.

    I know that most believers would say that we as people are evil, and that there is nothing good in us. But it sounds like our spirit is good. Its our flesh that is at emnity with the Spirit (Rom 7).

    It seems that the great battle that we go through every day is putting to death the deeds of the flesh (by the Spirit), and becoming spiritually minded (life and peace).

    It seems as if our spirit and God’s Spirit are much closer to being one then your entry alluded too

  15. Hi Jon,
    Narrow it down a little for me. I’m glad you’ve been thinking about it all day. I’m not sure what you’d like me to address.

    The issue is that we want to maintain the closest possible relationship and connection between Christ and the believer, but we do not want to confuse the two. We do not become gods (as the Mormons teach). We do not fuse with the divine nature (pantheism, new age thought). God remains transcendent while also being immanent. We just have to be careful how far we press analogies like “vine and branches” and “being one with Christ” or “with God.”

    Bill

  16. Joe Lukowski,
    You made my day! What a pleasure to hear from you. I’m so happy for (and proud of) you and your accomplishments. I’d love to get caught up. If you’d like, you can email me: maxgrace1 at gmail dot com.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  17. So i just read all of the above and am exhausted, it’s a lot of work to wrap your mind around these kinds of quandries.

    it looks like we have shifted from talking about Jesus to talking about ourselves.

    So…. Jon…. what are you getting at???

    I’ve often wondered the same thing, the Bible doesn’t seem to try too hard to make the distinction that you are talking about in regards to our connection with God/Jesus/Divinity.

    I agree with Bill, that it has been the church who has contested our difference from the divine over the years.

    Seems like a paradox to me. It’s obvious that we are not God’s in the sense of the word that refers to “the invisible” God (col. 1:15). But I also don’t like how we as the church pretty much dodge the John 10:34 verse and give a half ass answer that it was a refference to kings or magistrates. How out of context can you get.

    anyways, you get the point, I too wonder how far can you go, until you’ve gone to far???

    Peace.

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