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God Made Man

Jesus is fully God; but he was also fully man. This is a mystery that has been explained, and explained away, in several ways. Many have committed heresy on this count. I doubt that any have, or ever will, explained it adequately. J. I. Packer writes,


The Word became flesh: a real human baby. He had not ceased to be God; he was no less God then than before; but he had begun to be man. He was not now God minus some elements of his deity, but God plus all that he had made his own by taking manhood to himself. He who made man was now learning what life felt like to be a man. He who made the angel who became the devil was no in a state in which he could be tempted—could not, indeed, avoid being tempted—by the devil; and the perfection of his human life was achieved only by conflict with the devil. The epistle to the Hebrews, looking up to him in his ascended glory, draws great comfort for this fact.

“He had to be made like his brothers in every way. . . . Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. . . . For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been temped in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 2:17–18; 4:15–16).

The mystery of the Incarnation is unfathomable. We cannot explain it; we can only formulate it. Perhaps it has never been formulated better than in the words of the Athanasion Creed. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man . . . perfect God, and perfect man . . . who although he be God and man: yet he so not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking the manhood into God.” our minds cannot get beyond this. What we see in the manger is, in Charles Wesley’s words,

Our God, contracted to a span;
Incomprehensibly made man.

Incomprehensibly. We shall be wise to remember this, to shun speculation and contentedly to adore.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 57–58.

Posted 2008·10·30 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christmas · Christology · J I Packer · Knowing God
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#1 || 08·10·30··08:23 || donsands

Such a fine teaching. thanks for posting this.

It reminds of Paul's prayer, where he prays that we would know the width, length, height, and & depth of Christ's love, which is beyond knowing.

Our hearts long to understand God in His incarnation; in His infiniteness; in His eternalness- but we never shall. For the more we understand about our infinite Father the greater He becomes.

#2 || 08·10·30··09:11 || Victoria

Dear Dr. Packer--How wonderful that he is still among us and I believe still able to minister some.

In this comment "Incomprehensibly. We shall be wise to remember this, to shun speculation and contentedly to adore", he expresses my thoughts exactly.

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