O my Divine Savior, Transform me into yourself. May my hands be the hands of Jesus. Grant that every faculty of my body may serve only to glorify you. Above all, transform my soul and all its powers so that my memory, will and affection may be the memory, will and affections of Jesus. I pray you to destroy in me all that is not you. Grant that I may live but in your, by you and for you, so that I may truly say, with St. Paul, ‘I live – now not I – but Christ lives in me.’ Amen.
Many people today view Jesus as just one of the many great moral and religious teachers the world has offered. But Jesus himself claimed to be much more than that. He claimed to be God. As Christians, we profess that each time we say the Creed. But what does it really mean to say that Jesus is true God and true man?
In this session we are going to learn:
- What Jesus really taught about himself: who he was and where he came from
- Why it doesn’t make sense to view Jesus as just a good moral or religious teacher
- Why it is fitting that God would become man
- And finally, the all-important decision Jesus challenges us to make about him
Digging Deeper: Jesus Christ
We use the word “Christ” after the name of Jesus so often some people may think that was his last name, like Smith or Jones. But “Christ” isn’t a name; it’s a title, meaning “anointed one.” It comes from the Greek word Christos, which is a translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah. So, when we say Jesus Christ, we are really saying “Jesus, the Messiah” – the one anointed by God to accomplish his plan of salvation. It is a mini-statement of faith, an acknowledgement that Jesus is truly the Son of God.
Digging Deeper: The God Who is One of Us
Although today more people might deny Christ’s divinity rather than his humanity, the opposite was true in the early yeas of the Church. Several early heresies (false teachings) claimed that Jesus only seemed to be human. Because belief in Jesus being both God and man is the cornerstone of our faith, the first Church fathers knew they had to clearly state the incredible mystery that Jesus is truly, fully human; that he is the God who is one of us in all things but sin.
We just heard how viewing Jesus merely as a good man or a great moral teacher isn’t a logical option. As the presenter pointed out, Jesus claimed to be God. And that means we have to make a decision about him. Either Jesus is who he said he was – God, or he was knowingly trying to deceive people about his identity, in which case he is a liar. Or he was crazy and confused about his identity, and hence a lunatic. But simply saying Jesus was merely a good man or just a good teacher does not make much sense.
Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the divine Son of God, became incarnate, meaning he took on human flesh. In doing so, he assumed human nature without losing his divine nature. This means that Jesus is truly God and truly man. Because of this, he is the only mediator between God and humanity. The Son of God became man in Jesus Christ so that through his life, death, and resurrection we might be reconciled with God, know God’s love, have the perfect model for holiness, and share in God’s life. This mystery of Christ, the God-man, lies at the very heart of our Christian faith.
- According to the video, what are the three things Jesus did during his public ministry that point to his being truly God?
- What do you think it means for Jesus, the divine Son of God, to be truly and fully human? Can you imagine Jesus being tired, hungry, or angry? How does seeing Jesus as having all the same feelings and experiences you have (except for sin) change the way you tell him your needs and desires in prayer?
Summary & Exhortation
- God spoke to his people through the prophets during the Old Testament times, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2, CCC 65).
- In the fullness of time, the divine Son of God became incarnate, meaning that he took on human flesh. In doing so, he assumed human nature without losing his divine nature (CCC 479).
- Jesus Christ is not part God, part man. He is truly God and truly man, in the unity of his divine person (CCC 464).
- Because Jesus is both God and man, he is the one and only mediator between God and man (CCC 480).
- The Son of God became man in order to save us by reconciling us with God, so that we might know God’s love, to be our model of holiness, and to make us partakers of the divine nature (CCC 457-460).
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is one divine person who possesses two natures. He has a divine nature and a human nature, which are untied in the one divine person. This mystery of Christ is the profound union of the divine and human natures in the one person of the Son (CCC 483).
- “After the Council of Chalcedon [451 AD], some made a Christ’s human nature a kind of personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople in 553 confessed that ‘there is but one hypostasis [or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity.’ Thus everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: ‘He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity'” (CCC 468).
Call to Conversion
Jesus asks each of us, “Who do you say that I am?” Let’s take a few minutes to consider how we can more fully welcome Jesus and his Lordship in our lives. Use your Guide to write down your thoughts and reflections on the following questions:
- Prayerfully read the following quote from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which was mentioned in the video and is found in your Guide.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. HE would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. “
(C.S. Lewis was an Oxford professor and a famous 20th century defender of the Christian faith. He is also the author of the Chronicles of Narnia.)
2. Jesus tells us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). What do you seek first in your life? Do you truly put Jesus first in your life? Or do you seek other things to fulfill you, and have God as just a part of your life?
3. Allowing Jesus to reign over our lives as Lord requires submitting our will to his. It means following his teachings, living the way he wants us to live, and trusting that he knows and desires what is best for us. Write down one or two areas in your life where the way you are living now could be more in line with Jesus’ teachings. What can you do this week to begin living more with Jesus as Lord of your life?
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me: I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more. Amen.
For Further Reading
For more in-depth reading about Jesus, see the following Catechism passages:
- Jesus Christ: “Mediator and fullness of all revelation”: CCC 65-67
- True God and true man: CCC 464-469, 479-483
- Jesus reconciles us with God: CCC 457-460
- The two natures of Jesus: CCC 470-478