The Permanence of Christmas, Part 3: Contemporary Articulations
From the New Testament to the present, Christian theology has celebrated that Jesus is forever the God-man. In this series, we saw first what the apostles had to say in the New Testament. Then we picked up the theme of Jesus’ continuing humanity in church history. Today we'll conclude with four present-day articulations of this doctrine.
Jesus’ Body: Not Just a Memory
Donald Macleod’s The Person of Christ is a wonderful book. If you’ve found this series on Christology interesting, Macleod’s book would be a great place to go next. There Macleod writes on Jesus’ continuing incarnation:
The body is not just a memory for the risen Christ. He still has a body: a body which, by definition, is material and which stands in direct organic succession to the one he had in the days of his humiliation. (163)
Jesus Didn’t Drop Us
In his very helpful Jesus Ascended, Gerrit Scott Dawson writes,
If [Jesus] dropped the hypostatic union with humanity, then he dropped us, and we are left forsaken on this side of the great divide, unable to fulfill our purpose, find forgiveness and restored communion, or enact our mission.
Thankfully, a Nicene, historically orthodox view of the ascension safeguards our understanding of Christ’s continuing incarnation. (6)
Not “Slumming” for 33 Years
Last December Doug Wilson wrote:
Jesus Christ became a human being, but He did not do this as temporary exercise. He was not “slumming” for thirty-three years, only to return afterwards to His old pre-incarnate state. He became a man in order to be our high priest—so that there would be a man praying for us at the right hand of the Father—and He continues to occupy this office, and will occupy it forever. “It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34b). Christ is our high priest continually (Heb. 7:3). This means that the second person of the triune God became a man forever. God is clearly up to something that goes far beyond anything we might be able to imagine. But among other things, this means that if God has invested Himself in this way in the future of the human race, it follows that the future of the human race must be stupefyingly glorious.
Jesus Has Come in the Flesh
Finally, a quote from John Piper’s new book Finally Alive: What Happens When We are Born Again. Piper writes that the apostle John
insists that the flesh of Jesus and the person of the preexistent Christ are inseparable after the incarnation. 1 John 4:2: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” Notice it does not say “came in the flesh,” as though that union with flesh and bones happened for a while and then stopped. He says, “has come in the flesh.” (146)
Praise the divine Word that, without ceasing to be God, he truly became man! He is forever fully God and fully man in one person, now in the Father’s presence, interceding unshakably for those who are united to him by faith. Our salvation is as sure as his continuing incarnation.
For more on the incarnation: