The sainted Martin Chemnitz wrote these important and precise words for the church of our century to ponder concerning the teaching of Jesus’ Person:
It will be useful to keep in mind the reasons why it was necessary for our Mediator, Redeemer, and Savior to be not only God or only man and why the divine and human natures had to be united in the person of the Mediator.
- Because human nature was doomed to eternal punishment in accord with the sentence of divine judgment spoken on the day when Adam fell, therefore the Son of God offered Himself for the assumption of human nature…
- Because human nature after the fall was subject to the wrath of God and damnation, it was necessary that our Mediator make satisfaction for us in the human nature.
- Because human nature…became the body of sin and death, therefore the Son of God, in turn, willed to condemn sin and to abolish death…by going through death to life to restore the human nature.
- Because human nature in Adam…turned from God through sin, therefore the Son of God in His own person again united human nature with the divine nature.
Dr. Chemnitz formulated these powerful thoughts from God’s comforting biblical foundation: “For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Also, “[God] made Him to be sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Since the Bible clearly states the reason why Christ’s human nature satisfies the law’s requirements for saving sinners, why then was it necessary that the divine nature of God’s Son be united with it? For the Bible says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Dr. Chemnitz answers on the basis of Scripture:
- Because there would not have been an adequate ransom for sin and God’s wrath, which are boundless…. For this reason, therefore, the price is so great and the merit of the suffering and death of Christ [is so great] that it [the merit] is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. For the Son of God suffered and died in His own flesh.
- Because the creature [Christ’s human nature] by itself could not have borne the enormous burden of the wrath of God which was owed for the sins of the entire world. The human nature by itself could not have removed sin, overcome…death, or crushed the serpent’s head. These works require divine power.
God has inspired the words of Scripture noted above for the consolation of sinners. They are the very foundation of our faith: “In Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
Quotations are from the book The Two Natures of Christ by Martin Chemnitz, pp. 147–148; transl. by J.A.O. Preus, CPH: 1971.
James Olsen is an ELS pastor emeritus living in Ontario, Wisconsin.