In Very Nature God

As we continue our study of this Philippian hymn, we encounter this tiny little phrase with deep theological
significance. We are told Jesus is “in very nature God”. Orthodox Christian teaching holds that Jesus is fully man and
fully God. In some way we cannot fully understand that he was both a living, breathing, physically human being, but also
God in every sense of the word. 100% man and 100% God. This may sound like meaningless philosophical mumbo
jumbo, but it is of utmost importance. Jesus was the mediator between God and man. If he was all Divine and not man, he
could not have taken our place on the cross. If he was all human and not divine, his death would not cancel all of
humanity’s debt.

A true story told by missionary Don Richardson illustrates this point. He served with the Sawi people in Dutch
New Guinea. They proved especially hard to reach. As the Gospel was preached to them, they cheered for Judas’ clever
betrayal rather than Jesus’ sacrificial death. Don despaired of ever reaching the tribe with the saving grace of Jesus. Then
one day he witnessed a pact made between two warring factions. As part of the ceremony, one side would give up a child
of their own to be raised by the other tribe. As long as the child lived, both sides would live in peace. Don found the
perfect analogy for the Gospel. Jesus is the Peace Child, fully part of both sides. In that unique role, he could bridge the
gap and bring peace between God and man.
 
This fully God/fully man nature is meaningful to us as well. Not just for its unique and essential role in our
salvation; but we also have a God who knows what it is like to be human, who can empathize with us in our struggles, and
yet is also the God powerful enough to watch over us no matter what we face.