A several weeks back a friend asked an insightful question at a study group, “Does Jesus have a soul?” Several blank stares ensued, myself included, around the table as the matter was processed and pondered. I have never heard the question phrased like that. A simple, direct and straightforward inquiry. I remember we all glanced around looking at each other. “Well, does he?”
Several days later I was driving through the Seattle downtown traffic. I was in the middle of a long day when the answer to the question hit me. I wasn’t particularly thinking about the question. The drive was backed up with traffic, I was hungry, and I was bored with my remaining work. In a very abrupt way the answer pressed on me hard. I’ve felt this pressure before. Maybe you have experienced it. It’s when the Holy Spirit wants me to know something, and know it well. Many years ago, this urging scared me. I didn’t understand it and many times I never heard it. Now I embrace it, relishing in the love and grace God has for his children.
Here is the reasoning that almost knocked me off the road.
• We are created by God in the likeness of God. “So God created mankind in his own image…” (Genesis 1:27)
• We know we have a body and soul. A ‘substance dualism’, if you will, of a “physical body and immaterial, invisible thing that makes (us) a conscious living human being”1
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
• If Jesus does not have a soul, he is not fully human.
• If Jesus is not fully human, he cannot act has the propitiation for our sins.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)
• Therefore, yes. Jesus must have a soul, just like ours because Jesus is Fully God and Fully Man. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
What we basically could not articulate quickly as a group was the incarnation of Christ, outlined in verses; John 1:14, 1:1, 20:28, Luke 2:11, and John 8:58.
I drove to my destination very quietly after this. I repented of not remembering all the Lord completed for me. How could I have not put two and two together? That is the big ticket. Without the incarnation, why do we gather, why do we serve, why do we give? The guys in our study group are cool and all but we could go hang in a bar, skip the books and not worry about the heavy stuff.
So, I dug into my wonderful books to study on the topic of the “hypostatic union”. What are these two natures?
“Early church figures such as Athanasius used the term “hypostatic union” to describe the teaching that these two distinct natures (divine and human) co-existed substantively and in reality in the single person of Jesus Christ…” The full humanity of Christ is displayed in that he experienced all human weakness and limitations of having a human body, mind and soul, and yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16). “Jesus’ full humanity enables him to accomplish our obedience (Romans 5:18-19) and be a substitute sacrifice for us (1 Tim 2:5).” The deity of Christ was necessary because only someone who is infinite can bear the penalty for sins (Luke 2:11).
So, why do I write this now? A few reasons.
1. I love Christ and I don’t want to miss any critical parts of his revealed revelation to us. Especially when it comes to my right standing with the Father.
2. I love my Brothers and this simple question provided the groundwork for a deeper understanding of Christ. We can’t afford to roll around in the heresy of Apollinarianism. That was refuted 451 AD, but that is a writing for another time. And finally, we can’t afford to miss any opportunity to know Christ better and rejoice in what he has done for us, but we will. We are imperfect, but we strive to know our Lord better.
3. I’m partial crazy and where I have been studying graduate level finance all day, with a brief break for purchasing fireworks, placing my mind on our Lord eases me. It rests my soul and I thank Him for that.
#Merica! Brexit 2017
- Moreland, James Porter, and Dallas Willard. Love Your God with All Your Mind. 1st ed. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 1997. Print.
- Grudem, W. (1994). ‘Systematic Theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine’ (6th ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530: Zondervan.
- Two natures of Jesus | Theopedia. (2017). Theopedia.com. Retrieved 3 July 2017, from https://www.theopedia.com/hypostatic-union
- Picture Credit- Cat, P., Cat, P., & profile, V. (2006). Hypostatic Union of Christ: The Black and Tan. Aliveandyoung.net. Retrieved 4 July 2017, from http://www.aliveandyoung.net/2006/10/hypostatic-union-of-christ-black-and.html