(Scripture references are hyperlinked to encourage you to read the Biblical text to form your own conclusions.)
As I was preaching recently, I encountered some difficulty in accurately expressing the dual nature of Jesus as He took on humanity to redeem us back to our Father. Some of my verbal deficiencies could be chalked up to having my hands in too many “pots” during the lead up for that particular Sunday morning service. But I came away from that experience with a divine craving to be able to successfully communicate the dual nature of Jesus walked and the reason it is of important consequence for our salvation.
Jesus is God. He is the Word and was with God in the “beginning” and “was God.” (John 1:1-2) Jesus is part of the divine Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) And He demonstrated the necessary qualifiers of His divinity in His supernatural power used to create all things that exist. (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17) And like the Father and Holy Spirit, Jesus has no beginning or ending (Hebrews 5:6, 7:3).
Man is not God, but was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) by the creative power of Jesus, the Word. As the pinnacle of God’s creations, man was the object of divine favor and relationship until the sins of mis-trust and disobedience by the 1st Adam resulted in the separation of all men from relationship with God. (Romans 5:12-19) The salvation of man could not be at his own hands, but now required a legally appropriate substitutional sacrifice.
Enter Jesus, the Son of God (1 John 5:20) and Son of Man (Matthew 9:6). He entered the timeline of human history at just the right moment (Galatians 4:4-5). He was not only fully God (Colossians 1:15a, 19) but also fully man (Hebrews 4:15). The virgin birth meant that He had not been physically fathered by a man (Luke 1:27). In this way, even by human standards Jesus was unquestionably the Son of God even while He wore the robes of human flesh.
As the Son of man, Jesus limited Himself to the experience and expression of a man (Philippians 2:6-8). He chose not to lean on or pull from His own divinity, but rather to rely on the direction of His Father (John 5:19, 8:28) and the power of Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21-22, 4:1, 14). He did not perform one miracle or healing on His own, but as a man, He demonstrated how we too, as mere men, could live in partnership with God.
This self-imposed limitation of His divine power, which explains why He had to grow “in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men (Luke 2:52), was in force from His birth until after His resurrection, since we know that it was Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11). Somewhere between the Resurrection and His ascension, all of the restrictions of humanity were removed from Him except for one – He will forever retain His human form in a resurrected body.
Having now a biblical grid about His dual nature, let us briefly examine its consequence. First, it is important that we settle the preeminence of Jesus (Colossians 1:15-20). He has always been and will always be God. There has never been a moment in eternity when Jesus was not God. While He laid down the benefits of functioning as God during His humanity, He never gave up His divinity itself. Nor did He ever die spiritually as well as physically, as some have taught (Kenyonism), which would disqualify Him from every having been God since divinity by definition cannot cease to exist.
Second, the significance of the self-limitation during His time on the planet (and under it in the grave) is monumental. Primary to the salvation equation is that the sacrifice for our redemption needed to be appropriately substitutional (Hebrews 4:15). The things that Jesus did on our behalf – His perfect life, death, and resurrection – had to be done by a man (the 2nd Adam) in order to be legally substitutional and transferrable into our spiritual accounts. (Romans 5:12-19)
His self-limitation as the Son of Man also gives us a blueprint for how to live righteous and supernaturally through an intimate partnership with the guidance of Father and the help of Holy Spirit. He lived as a man, fulfilled the Law as a man, died and rose again as a man (John 20:21). In plain language: the life that He lived was a demonstration of what we too could live because He lived it using only the advantage of His humanity not His divinity.
We have saved the best for last. Because Jesus was both Son of God and Son of Man while He was on the planet, we have the privilege of seeing first-hand the greatest demonstration of love ever to be offered. (Romans 5:6-8) Although He had functioned in the limitless possibilities of divinity in eternity past, Jesus loved us so much that He did not hesitate to undertake the greatest downsize in all eternity. He gave up infinite possibilities and took on finite limitations so that He could win our hearts and win our freedom.
It’s no wonder Paul’s apostolic prayer for us was that we would be “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 …that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)