Who is Jesus? There are many answers we might give to this question. We might answer by saying what Jesus means to me. “He’s my Savior. He’s my friend. He’s everything to me.” Those answers are good, but the best thing we can do is be as objective as possible. As Christians, we should be able to define Jesus clearly and confidently.
If you read any systematic theology, you’ll likely see theologians speak of “the person and work of Jesus Christ.” We answer the question “Who is Jesus?” in two ways: his person and his work. In other words, “Who he is and what he does.”
First, who he is. The Augsburg Confession answers this way: “Our churches teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So there are two natures—the divine and the human—inseparably joined in one person. There is one Christ, true God and true man …” (Augsburg Confession, “Article III: The Son of God”).
The nature of Jesus is truly unique. There are two other persons who are God: the Father and the Holy Spirit. And there are billions of other persons who are human. But there is no one else who is both God and man. But we do not think of Jesus as being two persons. “He is not two Christs” (Athanasian Creed). He is one person with two natures. The divine nature is eternal, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are eternal. But the human nature has a beginning: the miraculous conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. From that moment on, the Son of God is, for the rest of eternity, both God and man. Therefore, everything he does, is done as both God and man.
Everything that he did in his earthly ministry was done as both God and man. He suffered, died, and rose again as both God and man. He ascended into heaven and is returning again as both God and man. It is essential for our salvation that Jesus did all of this as both God and man. God suffered. God died. If Jesus had put off his divine nature in order to die, then his death would merely be that of an ordinary man. He would still be sinless, but not valuable enough to atone for all the sins of all mankind. But he dies as both God and man. Even though it is impossible for God to die (it is contrary to his eternal nature), he does, because the divine and human natures are joined together, and the human nature is capable of dying. Therefore, the person of Jesus Christ died. And this reconciles the Father to us. And it was not God alone who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Jesus did that as both God and man. This means that resurrection and eternal life are opened to mankind.
Who is Jesus? He is God and man in one person, who was born, lived, suffered, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven for our salvation. And he is coming again to take us to where he is now.
The peace of Christ be with you all,
Pastor Dan Antal