Truly Human and Truly God

Heidelberg Catechism: Question 16: Why must He be truly human and truly righteous?

Answer: God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin; but a sinner could never pay for others.


Question 17: Why must He also be true God?

Answer: So that, by the power of His divinity, He might bear the weight of God’s anger in His humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.


Observations: Question 16 and 17 ask why our mediator and deliverer must be both truly human and truly God. According to the Bible our Saviour must be human because it is ‘human nature, which has sinned,’ and ‘must pay for its sin.’ Paul tells us that just as sin came into our world through one man, Adam, so it was dealt with by one man, Jesus Christ (Rom 5:12,15, also 1 Cor 15:21-22). The Bible says, ‘[Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way… that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:17)’ However, while Jesus was fully human he also had to be truly righteous, for ‘a sinner could never pay for other [sinners].’ Jesus wasn’t just a man, he was a perfect man. But if Jesus was perfect why did he also had to be fully God? Wasn’t his perfection enough? According to the catechism only God could ‘bear the weight of God’s anger.’ A perfect man might take the place of a sinner, but Jesus took the place of all those who put their faith in him, he bore the sins of the world (Jn 1:29; 1 Jn 2:2). Only God can ‘earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.’ According to the catechism ‘righteousness and life’ are both ‘earned for us’ and ‘restored to us.’ It recognizes the fact that only God can declare those who are unrighteous to be righteous in Christ, and only God can make those who are unrighteous more like Jesus through the Holy Spirit.


Application: What do you believe about Jesus Christ? Do you believe he was fully human, just like you, yet without sin? Do you believe he was a real person with real emotions, one who truly understands what you’re going through? Do you also believe he was fully God? Do you believe that through his death and resurrection he conquered sin and death, providing forgiveness of sin and eternal life? Jesus was just like you and yet he was also God in the flesh, come to redeem and rescue us from our sin.


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, as I reflect on Your Son Jesus Christ I am astounded at the audacity of Your plan of redemption, that You would become one of us, that You would enter into my life in order to rescue me from my sin. Lord, You became sin in order to make me righteous. You lived the perfect life I never could and You died in my place that I might have eternal life. Lord You have provided for everything that I need in the person of Jesus, who was true man and true God. I praise You for Your mercy and grace, Your wisdom and power. In Jesus’ name and for His glory I pray. Amen.


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