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  • Rev. Morgan Byars

Jesus as Fully God (Advent Part 3)

If you’ve stuck with this blog for the past couple of weeks, then you’ll probably be glad to hear that we’re out of the woods concerning ancient church councils and theological debates. While I’m always more than happy to talk and write about that kind of deep theological content, I want to commit myself to what I wrote last week: “abstract theologizing without a practical impact misses the point entirely.” We could know everything in the world about Christology and explain the ins and outs of Jesus’ full divinity and humanity, but if it does not transform our lives then it really doesn’t count for anything. As Paul says, “if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). We can say the same of having knowledge without transformation. So over this week and next we’ll explore some of the practical impacts that the last two weeks have brought to the forefront, focusing especially on the full divinity and humanity of Jesus. Let’s start with Jesus’ divinity.

Christians have traditionally looked to Jesus as the definitive revelation of God’s character and will, and that is directly tied to the conviction that Jesus is fully divine. That’s not to say that Jesus is the only revelation of God. Just look at everything in the Old Testament! God has been active and present in the world always and everywhere (a doctrine called omnipresence). But in Jesus we get the clearest and most definitive revelation, for “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15a). In Jesus we don’t see divine revelation mediated through prophets or signs or abstractions. In Jesus we see nothing less than the fullness of God living in and amongst God’s creation. We at Mt. Hebron actually echo this conviction in our liturgy and worship. You might have noticed that the only scripture readings we stand for are the gospel readings. There’s nothing in scripture that says we have to do that. But we do it as an outward sign of the special significance of what the gospels point towards. The gospels provide us the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They direct our attention to the clearest and most definitive picture of who God is. As Rachel Held Evans writes, “At the heart of the doctrine of the incarnation is the stunning claim that Jesus is what God is like. ‘No one has ever seen God,’ declared John in his gospel, ‘but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, he has made him known (John 1:18, emphasis added).”[1] If we truly believe that, if we look to Jesus and encounter him as God’s unmediated and complete presence with us, then all of our lives are to be shaped by how Jesus lived.

It is this reality that encourages our reverence and remembrance of this season. During the Christmas season we are reminding ourselves of God’s complete and total commitment to us, to revealing what God is like in such a way that it completely transforms us. During this season, we remind ourselves that God did not take any half-measures in being with us. God completely, fully, totally dwelt with us, teaching and displaying God’s very self to us. In light of that, all of who we are is to be in emulation of that revelation, to interpret the whole of our lives and scripture in light of who Jesus is and what he did. And that is indeed gospel, for it means that God fully commits to us and loves us. And we have the privilege and joy of living into that love. For as Paul says, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

[1] Inspired, pg. 77


*Cover photo: Theotokos by Anna Schumann (2022)

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