The story of the church’s understanding of the person of Jesus Christ is one of swings and roundabouts. The pendulum swings between diminishing the divinity of Jesus and diminishing his humanity. In the last 150 years, liberalism has diminished Christ’s divinity, and orthodoxy, partly in reaction, has run the risk of diminishing his humanity. In our insistence that Jesus is Lord, that he is the divine King—which we unreservedly affirm—we must never fall into the error of having a less than human, or more than human, Christ. If we do, we reduce his saving work to a mathematical formula, and, worse, we have a Christ who is not able to be a savior.
But if our Savior is truly and fully human, then his work is a flesh-and-blood reality. He is a real man in this real garden among real friends who fail him just when he is facing this real onslaught. On the one hand, that onslaught comes from hell (was there ever fiercer temptation than now?). “Turn away from obedience to death, even death on a cross.” On the other hand the cup he shrinks from drinking contains an onslaught from heaven.43 It will bring him eventually to the point of crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus knows this is what it will mean if he is to suffer and die as an atoning sacrifice for sin. He is about to taste God-forsakenness.
Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson, Name above All Names (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013).
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