Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Divinely Human, Humanly Divine

Jesus was fully human and fully divine. This has been a root of much confusion which has caused countless heresies through the ages. Sabellianism, Docetism, Adoptionism, Nestorianism, Apollinarianism, Socianism, and Arianism are just a few of the heresies the early Church had to deal with concerning the dual nature of Jesus Christ. These heresies come about from many different beliefs but all wrestle with the belief that a person cannot have two distinct natures at the same time.

Think of a nature as if it were water for a moment. If I have a cup of red water and a cup of blue water and I try to pour them both equally into a one cup glass the best I can do is 50%-50%. The water in the cup would also become mixed to the point that you couldn’t tell them apart anymore. This concept has lead people to believe that it is impossible for Jesus to have a 100% human nature and a 100% divine nature at the same time. That equals 200% and isn’t possible.

Now imagine a room that has a red light in one corner and a blue light in the other. If I turn on the red light the room is filled 100% of the way with the red light. If I turn on the blue light the room is filled with 100% blue light. If I turn on both lights at the same time an interesting thing happens. The room is filled 100% with the red light. It is also filled 100% with the blue light. The red light does not displace the blue light and the blue light does not displace the red. They coexist in harmony with one another.

Another interesting thing happens. If we place an object in the center of the room, equally between the two lights, and look at that object from the side with the red light the object will appear red. If we look at the object from the side with the blue light the object will appear blue. If we look at the object from any angle that both lights shine on it the object will appear purple. We can see each light individually as well as both lights combined at the same time.

No metaphor is perfect but this one can help us to better understand the great mystery of how a divine nature and a human nature could coexist in the man Jesus totally, equally, and without diminishing the other at the same time. There are times in scripture where we see Jesus’ human nature shining through, like during his agony in the garden. There are other times when we can see his divine nature shining through, like when he is forgiving sins and healing people. Through most of scripture Jesus is seen with the perfect mix of the human and the divine.

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