What Does It Mean For God To Become Human?

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    At first glance, one of the more problematic parts of understanding Christian belief is this whole concept that Jesus is God and man at the same time. How does that work? What does it mean? In one of the Gospels, the writer tells us, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” Who is this Word? This passage tells us that he is God, and that everything derives its existence from him. Okay, that’s cool. We can handle this. The living Word is God, was with God, and everything derives its existence from him. What gets tricky is in verse 14 where it says, “the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” So God became human and people saw him, talked to him, touched him, laughed with him, cried with him, and ultimately saw him die. This idea is called the incarnation. The term itself comes from the Latin and literally means “in flesh.”

    The verses quoted above are the words of John, who wrote the fourth Gospel found in the New Testament. Since the word gospel simply means “good news,” this idea of the Word becoming human was exciting enough that four writers devoted their energies to recording this good news. What is the significance? God loved us so much and wanted us to know him so much that he came to us. In non-Christian stories such as Greek mythology, you occasionally find gods that come to earth. But they do it to conquer or to achieve some purpose that fits their overall power struggle with the other gods in the universe. In this story—the Bible story, this good news—God becomes human because he wants us to be able to enter into relationship with him.

    So Jesus was born and he was completely God and—at the exact same time—completely a man as well. That is, in Jesus we have two hundred percents (one-hundred percent God and one-hundred percent man) that equal one hundred percent. It’s a dichotomy that has to be held in logical tension: he had to be man to identify with us and for us to identify with him, and he had to be God to save us. For the Scripture in this article, see John 1:1-14.

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