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God Became Man

Christian, tell me why do you think it's important that God became man? That's an old fairy tale: The gods in mythology became human all the time.

Because…The Son, who is all God, didn’t just pretend to be human temporarily. He actually BECAME human, permanently!

“God became man.” This fact is not news to Christians, or to anyone who has browsed this site for longer than 30 seconds. It’s certainly not news to me. But it still sometimes strikes me even more forcefully than usual. This week was one of those times.

Trinity Triangle

First, I thought of a new-to-me way of expressing the three-Person (“triune” or “Trinity“) nature of God.

Imagine an equilateral triangle, all sides and angles equal. From one point, fill in with primary-color red gradually fading to white at the center. Do the same with the other two points, fading them from blue and yellow toward the center. All three points are distinct, yet they constitute a single triangle. All three are necessary; it wouldn’t be a triangle if any one of them was missing. Where does one point leave off and another start?

The three primary color/points in the example are similar to the three Persons of God: Father, Son, and Spirit. All are equal. All are integral to what defines the one true God as “God”. But each is also distinct from the others. The analogy breaks down, though, in that each Person embodies the entire essence of God, while the three color-points are each only part of the triangle. I don’t believe that there is any human analogy which can really express God. He is too much “more” than we can fathom!

One Triangle-Point Going Even Farther

Now for the God-became-man story. I’ve been reminded twice this week of what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

God — all of God — loves us beyond imagination. He knows that, on our own, we are completely alienated from Him with no hope of reconciliation. So the Son — say the Red point of our triangle — voluntarily chose to go to extraordinary lengths to save us.

Existed in the form of God, but did not cling to His Equality; Emptied Himself

The Son didn’t stop being God; that’s not possible. He always has and always will exist in the “form” of God. The Greek word “morphe” is translated “form” in the NASB translation that I quoted above, but the NIV translation in the link uses “nature” instead. The word was used as a synonym for “essence”, “substance”, “form”, or “nature”. It means what something or someone really is, regardless of how they simply appear.

He didn’t cling to the place of honor and to the glory that were His by right of being God, though. You know how hard it is for someone (like a politician, for instance!) to voluntarily give up power? The Son gave up His prerogative to use His omnipotence independently. He gave up His right to rule from on high.

Humbled Himself, Became Obedient

The Son also gave up something else: His right to act as He pleased. Until I understood that fact, it always bothered me to see how Jesus is depicted in the Gospels. They clearly describe Him as subordinate to the Father. For instance, He says that He has kept the Father’s commandments (John 15:10). He also says, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” (John 8:28). Finally, He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

How could that be, since He is fully God? By His own choice: In order to fulfill His mission to save us, He even gave up His prerogative to be equal to the other two Persons! His point of the triangle was diminished, in a way. None of His deity was lost, but He chose not to exercise it except under the Father’s supervision. He chose instead to defer to the Father, allowing the Father’s will to direct His actions.

I suspect that I am not alone in that I can have trouble giving in to someone else. We teach children to respect authority, to share, to take turns. But when the issue is important to us, or when we are positive that we are correct, we still want to insist on our own way. Jesus, the Son, always submitted to the Father, no matter how much He would rather do otherwise (as in Gethsemane).

Took the Form of a Servant; In the likeness of Men; With the Appearance of a Man

While the Son was giving up His Divine prerogatives, what was He doing instead? He was taking on the “form” of a servant, the “likeness” of men, the “appearance” of a man.

“Form” is the Greek “morphe” again. He didn’t just look like a servant; He truly was a servant (Matthew 20:28; John 13:5-16).

“Likeness” is a different Greek word, “homoiōma“. It means the actual look of something, a resemblance. Jesus looked like a normal man, no halo. 😀

“Appearance” is a third Greek word, “schema“. It means the visible outward expression of the internal morphe. In my IT career, schema was used to mean the “blueprint” of a computer database. It set the standard for how that data would be arranged. A particular payroll database would have only one schema, for instance. However, that same schema would be used to define each copy of the database as it was installed on multiple computers. Different companies using that software would each have their own unique employee records. But all of them would have the same format, based on the same schema.

The Son chose to be defined by the schema of “human” rather than that of “God”. Again, no halo. He expressed His divine nature through the medium of a physical human man. He literally took on a second full nature, “human”, in addition to — but not replacing — “divine”. 1

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form

Colossians 2:9

This is where Christ is very different from the gods of mythology. When Zeus and Hermes visited the elderly couple Baucis and Philemon, or when Athena mentored Telemachus, they were only disguised as humans temporarily for the duration of the event. But when the Son was incarnated as the man Jesus, He was not in disguise. He really did become a human being…forever!

Even to the Cross

Jesus, the divine-but-human Son, obeyed His Father’s will all the way to the cross. He wasn’t supernaturally spared anything. He felt all the pain and humiliation that any man would. Plus, He also felt the separation from His Father as He took on the sin of the world — my sin and yours — and became something unbearable to God. That is why He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 27:46)

After His resurrection, Jesus’ body still bore the scars from the cross (John 20:24-28). When He ascended, His followers saw Him physically leave; He didn’t just “poof” away. While he was being martyred, Stephen saw Jesus in his vision standing by the throne of God (Acts 7:54-60). Revelation describes the “Lamb Who Was Slain” leading the armies of Heaven and ruling from Jerusalem during the Millennium 2. Believers throughout eternity will see the scarred Son the same way His followers did two thousand years ago: as a Man they can touch, talk to, hug, interact with in every human way.


As the perfectly-integrated God/Man, Jesus was able to bridge the gap between God and Man. His life sacrificed on the cross became the once-for-all atonement that paid the cost of sin. Only He could have accomplished that feat: A Human had to resolve the issue begun by a human (Adam), and only the Son had the power to do so.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

Romans 5:12-15

The Result

How did the Son turn out? What was the result, to Him, of His sacrifice? He regained everything that He had set aside, and more. The Father welcomed His Son home, where He is now the acknowledged ruler of the universe that He first created 3 …and then redeemed. That point of the triangle is glowing even more brightly than it did originally!

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. In fact, it could be hypothesized that the human schema was designed as it was — in the image of God; with volition, creativity and morality — in preparation for its use by the Son. It is exactly the vehicle He needed for His mission.
  2. Revelation 5:6-10; Revelation 19:11-16; Revelation 20:1-6
  3. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.