Last week we started looking at the Definition of Chalcedon and Mark talked about what it meant that Mary was the “Mother of God” or the “God bearer.”
This morning we are going to start focusing on the person of Christ and how his divinity and humanity relate. We believe that Jesus is both God and man. But one of the questions that has arisen in history is “How do these two natures relate to each other?” There have been a lot of questions (and a lot of wrong answers to this question) through history.
But the Definition of Chalcedon has been called “the watershed decision” when it comes to the relation of the two natures (sometimes referred to as the hypostatic union).
The creed states that we believe in “One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.”
This morning we want to focus on the fact that these two natures are “without confusion.”
Some of you, when you wake up, drink cranberry juice. Some of you might drink apple juice. But there are still others who might drink cran-apple juice. Cran-apple juice is two fruits in one bottle. But it is a mixture of the two fruits. You cannot distinguish which part is cranberry and which part is apple. So, if you think about it, the two are so unidentifiably mixed it ends up being neither cranberry or apple juice. You’ve basically created a new fruit called. The two are so interfused (or confused) that you now have a hybrid fruitjuice.
This is a crude analogy to how some have understood the two natures of Christ. Some believed that they were mixed together and so interlocked that they became actually one nature. So Jesus becomes neither God or man, but he becomes a third kind of being.
There were two specific heresies in the early church that did this. The first is Eutychianism. Eutyches said that the human nature was fused into the divine nature. We might say it was swallowed up by the divine nature. Eutyches said that it was like a drop of honey in the sea. You know that a drop of honey is going to dissolve and become part of the sea. So basically it is indistinguishable.
That’s what he said happened to the human nature. It fused with the divine and got all mixed up in it to the point that it is basically lost.
The other heresy is called Apollinarianism. Apollinarius believed that Jesus had a human body but a divine soul. So the divine nature took over the soul (or the mind).
In both cases, what you have is something that is neither divine or human. Jesus becomes a third kind of being. He’s not man (who has a human body and soul), and he’s not God (because his divine nature has changed).
So, we confess that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. He has two distinct natures and they are not mixed or confused.
And the reason why we confess this is because we need Jesus to “become like us in every way.” If he does not possess a true human nature—if it is swallowed up or changed, then he cannot be the Savior of humanity. And if he is not human, we are still in our sins.
But thank God that he is human and that his two natures are not mixed.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.