Question: Why is it so important for us to understand that God was fully human and fully God? It seems like there is a lot of confusion by other religions on this one. Isn’t the Bible clear on this one?
Answer: Scripture is very clear that Jesus was fully God and fully human, and this is one of the foundational pieces of our faith. But that’s not the question here, the question is “why is that important?” Like the doctrine of the Trinity it is very difficult to understand, but very important to our faith. Below are some reasons why.
Heresies about Jesus’ nature, and their problems…
1) Jesus is not human because the physical world is evil: This heresy has existed since the first century. It suggests that the physical world, including our flesh, is evil but the spiritual world is good. This is a common view among ancient Greeks. Thus how could Jesus be a part of the physical world if he is God? This view goes directly against the fact that God created us and said that we were “very good.” Jesus came to redeem creation not reinforce the idea that it is evil.
2) Jesus only appeared to be human: Another danger of the belief that Jesus was not human is that it suggests that Jesus likely would not have experienced the pain and anguish of human life and death. This could lead to the belief that Jesus only faked or acted out the pain and suffering of his death on the cross which goes directly agains one of the core elements of our faith. Jesus suffered and died, he lived and experienced our pain, and took on the pain of crucifixion for the sake of those he loved. Not to mention that if he only appeared to die they what need is there for a resurection, and if there is no resurrection there is no hope for all of us who are under condemnation.
3) Jesus was a human adopted by God: This heresy (called adoptionism) is the idea that Jesus was not God but was a human adopted by God. In other words, he was a very special human. These people often hold to the idea that Jesus was a good example for us because he was such a good man. This view is very dangerous though because it robs the Gospel of all its power. The Gospel says that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, it is a gift from God through His Son Jesus. This view reduces the ‘gospel’ to self-salvation which is no gospel at all. It’s the idea that by following the example of a good man we can be saved, but this is completely contradictory to our faith.
Those only represent a few of the problems/heresies that have threatened the true understanding of Jesus Christ. It is important that we not make Jesus anything less then God neither can we make him anything less than human.
“If Jesus Christ was not God there would be no particular reason to suppose he cannot be surpassed. People who settle for a merely functional [theology of Christ] will inevitably begin looking for another Christ or at least allowing for a the possibility of many Christs…at the same time, we must remember that he was and is not only truly human, but also the true human. From Jesus Chrsit we learn not only the will and Character of God but also our own humanity” (Olson, 242).
That is precisely the reason why Matthew starts off his Gospel with a geneology from Adam to Jesus. It points to his humanity. It starts with the first, yet corrupted, human and ends with the perfected human in Jesus.
Reference from The Mosaic of Christian Belief, Roger E. Olson