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, ex- plaining 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.