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Jesus - God and Man

Faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour is central to Christian belief.
Jesus' name on a billboard
Posted July 28, 2011

We recognise God’s perfect will and purpose in Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, his ascension and his second coming.

In his whole life history we hear God’s living word and we see God’s glory.

Jesus the man

Jesus is ‘truly and properly God and truly and properly man’. As we explore this mystery, we look first at Jesus of Nazareth, whose true humanity was as our own, and whose story is recorded for us in the Gospels.

A historical figure

Jesus was a Jew who lived two thousand years ago in Palestine when it was a province of the Roman Empire. In the Gospel of Luke, the account of his birth is linked to events in the time of Caesar Augustus. His whole life and ministry must be seen in the context of Jewish religious life and history.

In Jesus, God has revealed himself. If Jesus did not live, he did not die for our salvation, nor was he raised by God. Without the Jesus of history, there is no Christ of faith.

A real human being

We believe that Jesus’ true humanity is clearly revealed in the Bible. He felt hunger and thirst and weariness; experienced delight, anger and grief, affection and compassion. He developed from childhood to adulthood. He bled and died. In addition, the Gospels witness to the significance of his prayer life, the reality of his temptations, the importance he gave to Scripture and the role of community and religious tradition in his growth and development. He was fully human.

The New Testament reveals Jesus to be a man of true humanity. His love for God, compassion for all people, personal freedom and moral integrity reveal to us the kind of life that God intended for all human beings.

A unique human being

In the human life of Jesus we are confronted with his perfection. He is the true image of God for, alone among all human beings, Jesus lived without sin. This must be understood in the context of the work of God in him and of his unique relationship with God the Father.

The very closeness of that relationship exposed him more intensely to all the realities of temptation, to real conflict with the powers of darkness, to suffering, isolation and death. In that loving relationship he was able to resist temptation and remain sinless, even to the point of death on the cross.

Jesus, God’s Son

Jesus Christ was not only true man, but ‘truly and properly God’.

This truth is expressed in different ways by the New Testament writers. In the Gospel of John we read that ‘the Word became flesh and lived for a while among us’ (John 1:14).

In Philippians, Paul expresses this truth when he describes Christ as ‘being made in the very nature of God’, and yet ‘taking the very nature of a servant’ (Philippians 2:5-6). In Hebrews, Jesus Christ is referred to as ‘the radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of his being’ (Hebrews 1:3).

The Virgin Birth

In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we read about the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Like all humans beings, Jesus was born of a woman, Mary.

The Virgin Birth illuminates our understanding of the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. It asserts his divinity as well as his advent in time as a man, made in the image of God. It reminds us that Jesus is both like us and unlike us.

  • Source: abridged from ‘Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine’, Salvation Army International Headquarters, London 1988