Jesus: True God and true man

Our God transfigures weakness into divine glory.

How could the disciples have doubted what Peter had once so boldly confessed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16)? These men had seen the miracles of Jesus. He stilled storms. He fed thousands. He healed the sick and the lame. He raised the dead to startling new life.

These same men had also immersed themselves in Jesus' divine and often-surprising teaching, which once prompted the same Peter to confess to Jesus: "You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). They understood that Jesus was something very special in so many ways. They genuinely believed that they were having daily conversations with God himself.

A look of human weakness

So how could it be, then, that they did not believe the eyewitnesses? When the women relayed the message of the angel on Easter morning—"He is not here; he has risen"—Luke reports that these men "did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense" (Luke 24:11). How could they possibly think that Jesus being raised from the dead was nonsense? Had they not seen Jesus do one "nonsensical" thing after another and speak a flood of "nonsensical" words during his time with them? What gave them the right to think that Jesus' resurrection was impossible because it didn't quite square with their perception of reality?

Perhaps the best way to answer those questions is by asking one of ourselves: Would we have reacted differently had we been filling their sandals? The Scriptures actually answer that question for us with an emphatic no.

While it is true that Jesus displayed glimpses of his divine glory from time to time, the prophet Isaiah gives us this bird's-eye view of the son of Mary: "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. . . . Surely he took up our infirmities" (53:2-4). In other words, Jesus had the look of human weakness, making it truly amazing that anyone would believe him to be whom Peter and the other disciples confessed him to be, "the Christ, the Son of the living God."

To come to that conclusion has always been a miracle of Christian faith, worked by the Spirit alone through the gospel, even for those who saw Jesus with their own eyes. Jesus could not have been any clearer when he explained the source and agent of Peter's confession to him: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Yes, since Adam and Eve's expulsion from God's presence in the garden, Jesus' disciples have normally been bound in this world to "live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

A display of divine glory