What is Jesus' Essential Nature?

I copied this quote on the nature of Christ from D.A. Carson's book "The Gagging of God" which I thought you might deem appropriate for the Christmas/Advent season. Good material and a very fine book. This book belongs on our shelves among other modern classics such as The Pleasures of God by John Piper

We need to pause to reflect a little on the ways in which not only the Evangelists, but other New Testament writers as well, pick up on Jesus' unique status. We ought not confine ourselves to the relatively small number of passages in which Jesus is explicitly called "God" (e.g.. John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Titus 3:4-5). We ought to remember a wealth of other phenomena: the proclamation of the Son of God's last word and the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being in the prologue of Hebrews (1:1-3), [not to mention the angels who are said to worship Him] an epistle which also insists on the humanity of Christ, both as a witnessed reality and as a theological necessity...; Paul's penchant for taking verses from the Old Testament that refer to Yahweh and applying them without hesitation to Jesus; Peter's capacity to do the same thing (cf. 1 Peter 3:14 and Isa 8:12-13); Paul's insistence that "in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Col 2:9); the constant linking of "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb" in the Apocalypse; the parables of Jesus in which implicitly he identifies himself with the figure in the parable who in the Old Testament symbolism is none other than God; Jesus remarkable question to his opponents, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" (John 8:46)--attesting an astonishingly clear conscience; John's remarkable witness to the effect that Jesus takes on his own lips the divine title "I Am," in self-conscious application to himself of the content and the context of passages in Isaiah where the title refers to Yahweh (see especially John 8). And what must we make of God's declared purpose that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father (John 5:23)? Indeed, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him" (John 5:23).

With most people, genuine greatness is associated with a certain unawareness of greatness. The alternative is gradually to become an arrogant poseur. What is so affecting about Jesus is that quite transparently he displays astonishing authority (e.g., Matt 7:28-29) but is known for his gentleness and humility (11:29). For all that he goes to the cross, he sees himself as the focal point in history. When he insists that John the Baptist is the greatest person born of a woman (i.e. up to that time), the context shows that Jesus holds John to be greater than Abraham, greater than David, greater than Solomon, greater than Isaiah, for the simple reason that to the Baptist was given the immense privilege of pointing Jesus out on the stage of history, of announcing the arrival of the promised Messiah (Matt 11:9-11a). When Jesus goes on to insist that the least in the kingdom is greater than John because anyone in the kingdom, living this side of the cross and resurrection, can point Jesus out with greater clarity than did the Baptist. But it is the fact that Jesus can talk like this that is so staggering. Suppose some speaker today began his remarks by announcing that the person who introduced him was the greatest person who ever lived, simply because that person had introduced him! The person who talks in such terms is either suffering such megalomania that he has lost touch with reality, or he has an identity that demands a second look. Quite apart from the sweep of the claim, it has the flavor of someone who does not have to prove anything because he knows who he is. Doubtless Paul understands this: the participle in Philippians 2:5-7 ("...Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing") should probably not be taken concessively ("although in very nature God") but causally: "...Christ Jesus, who, because he was in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be exploited, but made himself nothing." pp 258-260

"The Gagging of God" (640pp/paperback) by D.A. Carson (buy it here)
Carson's book is an exercise in clear thinking; Reformed scholarship at its best; a sweeping overview of redemptive history and our place in it; Indictment of current heresy w/o getting bogged down with the details. Answers the question: Is Jesus the only way? highly recommended.


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