Who is Jesus?
Presbyterians believe, as do other Christians, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord of all and the Savior of the world. Jesus lived, died, and was raised from death by the grace of God. We affirm that this same Jesus is the Christ of God.
What is the Christ?
“Christ” is not the sur name of Jesus. Rather, it is His title—His office. The “Christ” is Jesus’ purpose. In Greek, the word “Christ” means anointed (in Hebrew, the word is “Messiah”). To affirm that Jesus is the Christ is to proclaim that He is the one anointed by God for a special purpose. That purpose is to restore humanity to a relationship with God—a relationship for which humankind was originally created and intended.
Presbyterians believe that humanity exists in a state of sin and has broken its relationship with God and, consequently, with each other. It is because of sin that humankind is in need of reconciliation with God. Yet, it is precisely because human sinfulness has alienated us from God that we cannot mend this broken relationship. Thus, God Himself has anointed Jesus as the “One Mediator between God and humankind” (1 Timothy 2:5)
How is Jesus Christ able to be the Mediator between God and humanity?
Presbyterians believe that Jesus Christ is “fully human and fully divine, one person in two natures, without confusion and without change, without separation and without division.” This statement dates back to 451 AD and is known as the Chalcedonian Definition. The early Christians who wrote this statement were trying to put into words their belief that Jesus Christ is divine as well as human.
As Christians, Presbyterians reaffirm this statement of faith about Jesus Christ. We recognize that we would be without hope if Jesus were either only human or only divine. Because Jesus is both divine and human, we have confidence that God does not stand at a distance from us, but has entered into existence with us. Because Jesus is not God in a mere human disguise, but is fully human as well as divine, we have confidence that God truly understands us and loves us.
What does it mean for us that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine?
The apostle Paul writes that Jesus Christ, “though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, being found in human form” (Philippians 2:6-7).
Presbyterians believe the two natures of Jesus allow us to affirm two very important aspects of our relationship with God. The first aspect is that, in the person of Jesus Christ, God has exalted humanity. God did not make Himself known to us as an angel or as a superhuman spirit, but as a human being. In so doing, God places a divine stamp of approval on human life. In Christ, God is showing us that our humanity is not something from which we must escape. Rather, God shows us that our humanity is a divine gift—a gift which we are to share with God and with each other—a gift for which we are to live lives of gratitude.
The second aspect is that, in the person of Jesus, God has humbled Himself. God does not consider His goodness and holiness as barriers to fellowship with humankind. God is not a prisoner of His own spirituality, but is able to be God even in a non-spiritual realm. God can accomplish His will in weakness as well as in strength. God can accomplish His will by sacrificing Himself as well as by asserting Himself. And this is precisely what God accomplishes in Jesus Christ.
We believe that if we want to know God, then we must look to Jesus Christ. We also believe that if we want to know what it means to be a human being, then we must look to Jesus Christ.
RETURN TO WHAT WE BELIEVE