Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now? [Matthew 26:52-54 (NLT)]
There is a fancy term for how God the Son, Jesus, took on human form and yet remained God: hypostatic union. Sounding like why my socks cling to my t-shirts in the dryer, knowing the term doesn’t help us understand it. I’m not sure anyone can wholly comprehend how Jesus always existed and yet was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary, and became man. When pondering Christ’s incarnation, I can’t help but think of an old ad for Certs Mints. Since they were both a breath mint and a candy mint, their commercials ended with the catch phrase: “Certs is two, two, two mints in one!” Fully man and fully God at the same time, Jesus, like Certs, had two distinct natures in one.
When Jesus walked the earth, He was not a human who once had been God; He was God in a human body. When He put on skin and became a living breathing man, Jesus didn’t cease being God or lose His godly attributes. For the most part, however, He voluntarily limited himself to the restrictions of humanity. As God, He could be everywhere at once but, as a man, Jesus only could be one place at a time. God is eternal and transcends time but the man Jesus had both a beginning and an end and was confined to a twenty-four-hour day. Nevertheless, there were moments when Jesus exercised His omniscience, omnipotence, and authority. For example, He knew the scandalous history of the woman at the well, the thoughts of the Pharisees, and who would betray Him. He used His divine power and authority to cast out demons, walk on water, give sight to the blind, and forgive sins.
Jesus, however, never resorted to His godly attributes to make life easier for Himself. As God, He never experienced weariness, hunger, or thirst but, when living in a man’s body, He grew tired, hungry, and thirsty. When fasting in the wilderness, the man who fed thousands with a few fish easily could have turned stones into loaves of bread, but He deliberately chose not to do so. God doesn’t feel pain, bruise, bleed, or die but, as a man, Jesus chose to do just that. The man who could still storms, change water into wine, and cast demons into swine could have stopped the flogging, mockery, and beating he endured that dark Friday. The man who cured lepers, healed a bleeding woman, and raised the dead certainly had the power to endure crucifixion without agony or to survive it unscathed. But, He didn’t!
After tempting Jesus in the wilderness, Luke tells us Satan left Him “until the next opportunity came.” Without a doubt, an opportunity came at Golgotha when the enemy made a last-ditch effort to stop God’s plan of redemption. He may have tempted Jesus with words like these: “Smite them; they dared to spit on you!” or “They’re beating you cruelly—show no mercy, strike the mortals down!” As Jesus suffered on that cross, Satan may have whispered, “You’re God, you don’t have to suffer like this. Break free and step down!” Being divine, Jesus easily could have come down from the cross unmarked by His ordeal. Instead, our all-powerful God deliberately chose to limit Himself to the indignities, pain, and weaknesses of a mortal human body. Submitting Himself to God the Father, He chose to endure torture, suffer, and die a miserable death as a man. Why? Because He loved us.