Is Jesus God or Man?
Fr. Joseph K. Horn
7 January 1996
St Barbara’s Parish
Santa Ana, CA
I asked my high school students whether Jesus is God. Although most of them got the answer right, many of them said, no, Jesus isn’t really God. God is God, and Jesus is just his son, like some sort of God Jr.
But this question was settled a very long time ago. In the early Church, some people were saying that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate, and not really a human. Other people were saying that Jesus was a human like you and me, and not really God. Well, which is it? Is Jesus a human, or is Jesus God?
The events in his life, which we read about in the Bible, teach us clearly that he is both. His miracles prove that he is true God; his sufferings prove that he is true human.
Jesus as human lay in the manger in Bethlehem, and Jesus as God was visited by angels singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Jesus as human was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and Jesus as God was adored by the shepherds. Jesus as human was fed by his mother, Mary, and it was Jesus as God for whom the new star appeared in the heavens. Jesus as human was presented in the temple, and Jesus as God was visited by the Magi. It was Jesus as human whom Simeon took into his arms, and Jesus as God to whom Simeon said, “Now you may dismiss your servant in peace.” It was Jesus as human with whom Joseph and Mary fled into Egypt, and Jesus as God in whom the prophecy was fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
It was Jesus as human over whom John poured the waters of his baptism of repentance, and Jesus as God of whom the voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It was Jesus as human who fasted and hungered in the desert, and Jesus as God to whom the angels ministered afterwards. It was Jesus as human who was invited to the wedding feast at Cana, and Jesus as God who changed the water into wine. It was Jesus as human into whose hands were placed the five loaves and two fish, and Jesus as God who took them, blessed them, and fed five thousand.
Jesus was human when he fell asleep in the boat, and Jesus was God when he rebuked the winds and the sea and made them calm again. It was Jesus as human who ate at the house of Simon the Pharisee, and Jesus as God forgave the woman there of her sins. Jesus was human when he sat down weary and thirsty by the well, and Jesus was God when he gave the Samaritan woman there the water of life.
Jesus was human when he spit on ground and made mud from the dirt, and Jesus was God when put it on the blind man’s eyes and restored his sight. Jesus was human when he wept aloud at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and Jesus was God when he raised Lazarus to life again. Jesus as human had to climb the mountain on foot; Jesus as God was transfigured there in glory.
Jesus was human when he rode into Jerusalem on the back of a lowly pack animal, and Jesus as God was praised by the crowds waving palm branches. Jesus as human was betrayed by Judas and arrested in the garden, and Jesus as God healed the servant of the high priest when his ear was cut off by Peter’s sword.
If Jesus were not human, then who was nailed to the cross? If Jesus were not God, then why did the sun grow dark above the cross? If Jesus were not human, then who cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” If Jesus were not God, then who said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”? If Jesus were not human, then who hung between two thieves in a humiliating public execution? If Jesus were not God, then who said to the good thief, “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise”? If Jesus were not a human, why did blood and water come out when his side was pierced with the lance? If Jesus were not God, why did the earth shake, the curtain of the temple tear asunder, and the centurion exclaim, “Surely this man was the Son of God”?
When Jesus appeared to the apostles after his resurrection, he ate and drank to prove that he was not a ghost, but fully human. But he entered the room despite the door being locked, proving that he is more than just human. Jesus as human told Thomas to stop doubting and to feel the wounds in his hands and side, and when Thomas was fully convinced that Jesus was standing there in the flesh, fully human, that is when Thomas fell to his knees and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” Both! Jesus is 100% human, and 100% God!
St John called Jesus “the Word” when he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is God. From all eternity, Jesus and God the Father have been together, two persons but one God. St John then wrote: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Jesus is human. He did not lose his divinity when he became human, nor did he become two persons or some sort of split personality. Jesus is one person with two natures: a divine nature, and a human nature, united indivisibly, unchangeably, without confusion. Nor does his divinity take the place of his soul, for that would make him less than perfectly human; no, Jesus has a created human soul just like we do, and in fact it has been said that the created human soul of Jesus Christ is the greatest thing in all of creation.
This is who we Christians worship: Jesus Christ, a person of both earth and heaven, of time and eternity. He began, yet is without beginning. He is free of time, yet is subject to time. He is created, yet uncreated. He is omnipotent, yet capable of suffering. He is human, and divine. He is the second person of the Blessed Trinity, and he lives and reigns with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.