On the Incarnation of the Word 17 – Fully Human, Fully Divine

We say, of course, that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. It has become almost formulaic. Yet we don’t really reflect on the depth of that mystery and have a tendency to emphasize one over the other. We have discussed and will discuss what it would mean for Christ to be any less than fully human. In today’s section, though, Athanasius focuses on Christ as the divine Word.

For He was not, as might be imagined, circumscribed in the body, nor, while present in the body, was He absent elsewhere; nor, while He moved the body, was the universe left void of His working and Providence; but, thing most marvellous, Word as He was, so far from being contained by anything, He rather contained all things Himself; and just as while present in the whole of Creation, He is at once distinct in being from the universe, and present in all things by His own power,—giving order to all things, and over all and in all revealing His own providence, and giving life to each thing and all things, including the whole without being included, but being in His own Father alone wholly and in every respect,— thus, even while present in a human body and Himself quickening it, He was, without inconsistency, quickening the universe as well, and was in every process of nature, and was outside the whole, and while known from the body by His works, He was none the less manifest from the working of the universe as well.

So even as Jesus lived his human life, the divine logos still sustained all creation, not just the one body within which it was incarnate. Of course, we know that has to be true from Colossians, but it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around. That has always been true. We still see today groups who on the one hand tend to portray Jesus as so divine that he is other than human and on the other as so human that he’s less than divine. Both the superhero and the everyday joe images are easier for us to accept than the reality of Christ.

Fully God and fully man? That’s a tough nut to swallow, but it’s precisely what the Incarnation uncompromisingly demands from us.

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