Jesus Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins in our stead. He sacrificed Himself that all humanity might be reconciled to God the Father. Reconciliation is necessary because our sins have separated us from God: “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1–2).
However, if Jesus was only human, His death could only have paid the penalty for one other human who had incurred the death penalty by transgression of God’s spiritual laws (Romans 6:23). Scripture says that God the Father created all things by Jesus Christ. He was one of the “Us” in the God family: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27). See also, Ephesians 3:9.
Since all things, including human beings, were made by Jesus Christ, the Word, or Logos of the Godhead, His life which He sacrificed was of greater value than the sum of all human beings. For we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:1-3, 14). “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10).
And only life can beget life. This is the absolute law of biogenesis. Since eternal life is the gift of God, only God, who alone has immortality, could give eternal life. Note: “. . . He who is the blessed and only [Sovereign], the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, [dwells] in unapproachable light,” (1 Timothy 6:15–16). Also, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12). Simply put, Jesus was and is God.
He Was Also Human
On the other hand, Jesus was also human: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God . . .” (1 John 4:1–3).
Since it is humans who have disobeyed God’s law, the law claims human life as its penalty. Scripture states that “the wages (the penalty) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). As God in the flesh, His death could pay the penalty of death for every human being. He never disobeyed God’s law and therefore was undeserving of the death penalty which the law claimed.
So, Jesus, who is and was God, became a physical flesh and blood human being. He was conceived in and born of the human virgin, Mary. “Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Hebrews 2:14-15 explains more succinctly Christ’s purpose for becoming flesh: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Jesus called Himself the Son of Man repeatedly, and also the Son of God. “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”’ (Matthew 16:13-17).
Jesus, in nature and character, is equal with God the Father. Paul tells us to “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5–8 NRSV). Jesus is also called “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us,” (Titus 2:13-14). Therefore, in the beginning, He was with God and was God and became God in the flesh. After His resurrection, He went back to God the Father as our God and Savior.
Also, prior to becoming human, Christ was the member of the Godhead that dealt with the descendants of ancient Israel: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers (ancestors) were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10: 1-4).
The One who delivered Ancient Israel out of Egyptian captivity, led them in the wilderness to Mt. Sinai and later established them as a nation was the Word of God who became flesh. The One who gave the laws to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai was the One who later became Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the LORD of the Old Testament, the God who dealt personally with Israel, who inspired the prophets, who revealed Himself to the Pharaoh, to Nebuchadnezzar and the Kings of the Earth.
The person of the Godhead who is humanity’s Redeemer is Jesus Christ. He and the Father initiated a plan of salvation for all humanity before the foundation of the earth. The Word, coming in the flesh, fulfilled a major step in moving their plan forward by providing a means of reconciling humanity to themselves by providing the death of God in the flesh as a saving death that reconciles humanity to their Creators. This is a profound reality. God died for us.