Dale Appleby

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Weekly Reflections

Call him Jesus – and ...

Call him Jesus – and ...      [..continued] 

If the creator has joined himself to his creation in the birth of Jesus, it suggests that God was quite serious in being with us. In fact if Jesus is God with us in this sense, then it is possible that something completely and outstandingly new has occurred. But in what way are God and humanity together in the person of Jesus? Maybe Jesus was just two personalities living together in the one body?

There seems to be no evidence that Jesus is a kind of split or multiple personality, as though sometimes the God personality comes to the fore and sometimes the human is the one people are dealing with. As the gospels report it, Jesus seems to be a stable integrated person.


So how do the two natures – God and human – exist together? We could think that they have become fused, or completely mixed so as to form a third reality: so that Jesus is neither God nor human but something else. Or more likely we could say that the divine nature has swallowed up the human so that only the divine nature is there – but residing in a human body.

But neither of these theories will do. Being human is more than having a human body. We say Jesus has a real human nature as well as the true nature of God. And that these two natures are united in the one person of Jesus so that they cannot be separated. But that they are united in a way which does not confuse them or allow them to be absorbed into each other. United and distinct but not separated. That is the way to say it.

Is such a thing possible? Could God unite himself with humanity and still remain distinct from it? In a way this helps us understand God’s relationship with the creation. He has created it, he is different from it, but it is dependent on him and only continues to exist because he holds it in being.

The incarnation does not contradict the way the creation exists. In a sense the human and divine natures fit together because one is always dependent on the other for its existence.

So what? we may ask. So the birth of Jesus says something very affirming about human existence, created humanity. It suggests that despite the fall and despite God’s judgment on the core human activities in his world, he has not abandoned either the creation or the humans he has made. The corruption of the creation is not God’s final word.


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