Every Sunday during our time of singing we take a pause to consider one of the questions from the New City Catechism. This is a sweet time as we are reminded of foundational truths of our faith. Our desire in doing this is that we would continue to grow as a congregation into greater and greater maturity in Christ as we learn and apply sound theology to our lives. This Sunday we went over question #23
Question 23 Why must the Redeemer be truly God?
Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.
Scripture: Acts 2:24
God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon hath shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death hath set us free. In as much as he was held captive of it, he hath annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was angered, when it encountered thee. . . . It was angered, for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was mocked. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was visible, and fell upon the invisible. O Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigneth.
We often like to focus on the human aspects of Jesus, and it’s important to remember that Jesus was fully human. But he was also fully God. What does it mean that Jesus was fully God? And why is it so important that he, as our Redeemer, be truly God?
The apostle John opens his Gospel by declaring that Jesus is the eternal God in flesh. He explains: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:1, 14). In his letter to the Colossians the apostle Paul wrote, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).
Similarly, Jesus himself numerous times affirmed his divinity and that he was one with the Father. On one occasion, some of his listeners understood what he was claiming and tried to stone him, explaining that they were stoning him not for any good work, but for blasphemy:, “You, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33). The book of Revelation describes Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega, the One “who was and is and is to come” (1:8). Indeed, he is no mere man. He is truly God.
So why is it so important that Jesus as our Redeemer be truly God? Our sin was committed against God. Only God can forgive a transgression against himself. This is why some of the religious leaders in Jesus’s day were horrified when he said he forgave sins. They understood the implications of what he said. How could a mere man forgive the sin we have against God? A mere man can’t, but God can.
Jesus needed to be fully human in order to be our substitute, but he needed to be fully God in order for his obedience and suffering to be perfect and for God’s justice to be completely and eternally satisfied.