concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:3-4, ESV)
When people looked at Jesus – the carpenter from Nazareth, Mary’s boy – they saw a human being. With His posse of disciples, He rolled into town on two legs, walking like anyone else would. He didn’t float, fly, beam in, or suddenly appear. He ambulated.
That’s what we were supposed to see.
God’s Son came, according to human reckoning, as a descendant of an ancient earthly king that nobody in the world cared about beyond Judea. David died too long ago to matter, especially since Rome had its foot on Jerusalem’s throat. Most Jews cared, of course, but they prayed for a type of Messiah that God never intended. Romans yawned, all while keeping a careful eye out for sedition.
But when Jesus appeared – first as a baby and then in the wilderness with John the Baptist – human eyes couldn’t see what the Father could. Human eyes couldn’t see that the Son had always been the Son, had created everything from the rings of Jupiter to the bubble of air under our fingernails, had voluntarily put aside the glory of heaven to make a much anticipated appearance and bring about the climax of history.
Human eyes can only see flesh, dirt, and blood. So, God gave us that. He put on the flesh, traveled along the dirty roads, and ultimately let the blood fall. We get to see all of that from our side of the sky – all the tangible evidence of love run wild. God knew we needed a Man from Nazareth to breathe in our oxygen. So, we got it.
When Jesus died, He got chucked into the grave like any other human being. According to the flesh, as Paul put it, everything happened like it always does. Humans die; the world keeps spinning on its axis; and the people in Rome would never have known. What’s one more dead Jewish guy to them?
But human reckoning doesn’t stop God. He knows how to make a point. Jesus said on many occasions, “I’m the Son of God.” The resurrection says, “You bet.” Jesus said, “I am the truth and the life.” The resurrection says, “This guy knows what He’s talking about. Better listen.” Jesus said, “Nobody comes to the Father except through me.” The resurrection says, “Don’t get that one wrong, or you’ll sizzle like an egg on a Texas sidewalk.”
The dual nature of Christ is not an unimportant side issue of salvation. When Paul introduced himself to the Romans, he first of all laid out why Jesus mattered to Jews and Gentiles alike. God became human – specifically a descendant of David – but He was always God. The resurrection makes that part difficult to ignore.
Paul summarizes all of this by calling Him “Jesus Christ our Lord.” You’ve got Jesus, meaning “Savior”; Christ, meaning “God’s chosen”; and Lord – or kurios (koo’-ree-os) – meaning “the Big Guy.”
In other words, Paul’s telling us it matters – it matters more than anything else.