Recently we got into a theological argument at a restaurant with the men sitting next to us. Honestly, it wasn’t our fault–they started it. They had a bone to pick about how Jesus could be both God and the son of God. To them it was illogical. I think they just wanted to make us look foolish, but it’s a good question.
The question behind the question, though, is why would God choose to become a man at all? Why bother with this “Son of God” stuff at all? It seems to make things messier. The answer goes back to salvation. I’ve been reading in the Bible recently and the phrase “the God who saves us” keeps jumping out at me. It’s an idea that is repeated so often and in so many ways that it is worth looking at a little deeper.
I’m going to spoil the ending a little bit by saying that we need a savior who is both God and man. Divine and human. Here’s why.
There are some things only God can save us from…
1. Physical dangers. There are natural problems like earthquakes, floods and diseases that only God has authority over. He made everything and he is in control. Isaiah 40 tells us that God has “measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” and that the “nations are like a drop from a bucket.” In other words, God is bigger than this world.
2. Evil people. Plenty of people feel powerful. Some even feel like they can stand up to God. There was an Assyrian king named Sennacherib who thought he was so strong that he could rage against God. But God frustrated his plans and caused him to die by the hands of his own children (Isaiah 37). God can save us from even the strongest people.
3. Death. All people will die someday, no matter how much exercise we do or how healthy our diet. The Bible compares people to grass that is green only for a short time and soon withers and dies. But God is the author of life and he has authority over death.
4. Sin. God himself is holy and separated from sin, so our sins distance us from him. All our sins are ultimately against the One who created us. There is no way around it; we are guilty before him. Forgiveness and release from sins is only in God’s power. However…
There is one thing only a man can save us from…
The Bible says that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). Why through blood? I don’t know completely. The short answer is that God in his wisdom made it that way. Another answer is that the shedding of blood (i.e. the killing of an innocent person or animal) shows just how serious sin is. A serious problem requires a serious solution. You don’t give someone a band-aid and say “you’ll be okay” when in fact they need open heart surgery.
For years, people offered their best animals as sacrifices as a way of dealing with their sins. Through Moses, God instructed his people to sacrifice perfect animals at annual holidays and at other special times. But Hebrews 10:3-4 tells us that “in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take a way sins.” In the region we live in, people sacrifice an animal as a part of the Kurban Ait holiday. But the same sacrifice happens every year, showing that the blood of that animal was not able to take away their sins.
Instead of an animal, we need a person to take away the sins of people. But even our heroes are not sinless. The best of the best have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of holiness. Thus, we don’t just need anyone to save us, we need a perfect person, a sinless person.
Jesus has two titles that help us see how he is, in fact, “the God who saves us.”
Son of Man. Jesus called himself the Son of Man, and as such he understands us. He is a hundred percent human and felt what we feel: hunger, pain, fatigue and temptation. (See Hebrews 4:14-15)
Son of God. The Bible calls Jesus the Son of God, and as such he is holy and separated from sin. He is a hundred percent God. He has authority over death and hell.
Although Jesus was innocent, it was God’s will that he suffer as the sinless, perfect sacrifice that truly takes away sin. As we mentioned above, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
God himself in Jesus Christ is “the God who saves us.” He has all authority and power. He suffered for the sins of the world, and now he is raised up, never to taste death again. He is able to save those who trust in him.