God and man

- Boo Chanco - The Philippine Star

Many of us have heard the story about St. Augustine walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. Then he saw a boy going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into a little hole in the sand.

St. Augustine asked the boy, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.”

“That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine.

The boy replied, “And neither can you fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” And with that, the boy vanished.

 The Holy Trinity is the basic tenet of the Christian faith. One God, Three Persons: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We proclaim that many times during the day as we make the Sign of the Cross, a proclamation of our faith to the world.

I thought about this basic doctrine of the Holy Trinity as I wondered how God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ can be both God and man. Having learned from St Augustine’s experience, I stopped myself trying to figure that out. I just take it by faith that God had good reasons for causing Jesus to be born as a human being and he continued being God, inextricably united with the Father and the Holy Spirit, even through Calvary.

Jesus Christ is God. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation (Colossians 1:15). The one who died on the Cross in Calvary is every inch a human, but is also God…

But Calvary had to happen because God established the necessity of shedding blood for the forgiveness of sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, had to sacrifice his human life and shed his human blood to wash away the sins of all who would believe in him and accept him as their Lord and Savior.

Indeed, the divine reason for Calvary was prophesied in the Old Testament a thousand years before it happened. Isaiah 53:5 says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.”

Check out too Psalm 22: 16-18. “… a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

Other than the Bible, I turned to Google, a resource St Augustine didn’t have, in my attempt to understand how Jesus can be both God and human.

The key word is incarnation. A Google search result tells me it is a term used by theologians to indicate that Jesus, the Son of God, took on human flesh. The word incarnation means “the act of being made flesh.”

Indeed, in John 1:14, it is written: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Gospels report Jesus had very human needs including sleep (Luke 8:23), food (Matthew 4:2; 21:18), and physical protection (Matthew 2:13-15; John 10:39).

An op/ed article in The New York Times by Peter Wehner observed that “the Incarnation is also evidence that God is not an impersonal, indifferent deity. Instead of maintaining a divine distance from life’s experiences, including its grief and hardship, Jesus shared in them. This can be seen in the moving events surrounding the death of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany.”

Jesus was so human that he also had to confront doubts. Wehner observed that crucified, near death and overwhelmed by pain, Jesus asked: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Wehner observed that Jesus “was forced to confront doubt. But his agonized uncertainty was not evidence of faithlessness; it was a sign of his humanity.”

One other reason why Jesus had to be human is to enable him to sympathize with our weaknesses. He knows how that feels because Jesus has endured all the same kinds of trials that we endure daily. “He has been tempted, he was persecuted; he was poor; he was despised; he suffered physical pain; and he endured the sorrows of a lingering and most cruel death.”

This is why we can go to Jesus, pray for our needs, tell him our heart’s sorrows and joys and rest assured he understands and will speak on our behalf to his Father. It is written in 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…”

The human Jesus died on Good Friday, but death cannot hold him. Because he is God, he conquered death and rose on Easter Sunday, triumphant. Through the Cross and his resurrection, he accomplished his mission of opening the Gates of Heaven for God’s people.

May we discover Jesus Christ our God and Savior this Holy Week and joyfully celebrate his Resurrection this Easter Sunday.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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