May 1, 2017

The Divine Nature of Christ

Mark 5:21–43

Taking [the girl] by the hand [Jesus] said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ And immediately the girl got up and began walking”

If you have been a Christian for a number of years, you have likely heard a sermon on Peter’s walking on water (Matt. 14:22–33) that included this point: As long as Peter kept His eyes on Jesus, he was all right. Only when he took his eyes off the Lord did he start to sink.

That lesson applies not only to individuals but also to the church. When the church loses its focus on the person and work of Christ, it will quickly fall into darkness. Christianity is all about Christ, who He is and what He has done. Thus, if we make the focus of the church a particular political program, a sociocultural ideology, or even the church itself, we ultimately end up with no Christianity at all.

One of the great accomplishments of the Reformation was its returning the church’s focus to Christ. We could, in fact, say that the driving force of the Reformation was bringing the church back to its historic confession of Christ alone (solus Christus)—Christ alone is head of the church; Christ alone is worthy of adoration; Christ alone saves.

In seeking to recover the person and work of Christ, Protestants, particularly the Reformed, were not seeking to break new ground with respect to our Lord’s person. They only wanted to see historic Christian orthodoxy as represented in such statements as the Definition of Chalcedon taught clearly and without compromise. Protestants asserted with Chalcedon that Jesus is one person who possesses two natures, a divine nature and a human nature.

A nature is that which makes something what it is, those attributes that define it. For example, the divine nature is marked by divine attributes such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, self-existence, eternity, and so on. To have a divine nature is to possess all the attributes that make God who He is. Thus, when we say that Jesus has a divine nature, we are saying that He possesses every attribute that God possesses in His divine nature. He is truly God.

Christ’s possession of the divine nature is taught directly in passages such as John 1:1–18. We can also look to episodes in our Lord’s life that reveal His divine nature to us. In today’s passage, for example, Jesus creates life, raising a young girl from the dead, simply by commanding her to live (Mark 5:21–43). That is something only God can do, for He created life by speaking it into existence (Gen. 1). Another passage that reveals Jesus’ possession of the divine nature is John 1:43–51. Here we see evidence of omniscience, as Jesus tells Nathanael that he was sitting under a fig tree before our Lord encountered him.

Coram Deo

Other religions might say they respect Christ for being a good prophet or moral teacher, but Scripture will not allow us to stop there. Jesus is also truly God and worthy of our worship. To be a servant of Christ is to worship Christ as the incarnate Creator. Let us share the truth of His deity with those who claim to respect our Savior.

For Further Study