Spider-Man Can't Save You: The Tyranny of Eutychianism
Spider-Man Can’t Save You
Spider-Man Can’t Save You
Orphan, lives with Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
Super smart…kind of a nerd.
Gets bitten by radioactive spider that alters his DNA.
Makes him super strong, spidey sense, shooting webs from his wrists, climbs on walls.
Uncle Ben tragically dies by the hands of a thief Peter could have stopped.
Peter is weighed down by grief and know he needs to use his powers for good…”with great power comes great responsibility.”
Spider-Man is born.
Peter Parker is arguably one of the most relatable superheroes…he is young, he struggles to find his identity as he is either loved or hated by the people of New York, he has experienced extreme loss with his uncle Ben and his first girlfriend, Gwen Stacey, and he is often plagued with social awkwardness, self-doubt, and grief.
Yet, even though Peter seems to be relatable and a normal human being like us…he really is not human like us.
Because Peter’s DNA was altered from the spider bite, he is part human and part spider. This means that Peter is no longer human or spider but a third kind of person, a hybrid of sorts…a Spider-Man.
And Today, people think the same thing about Jesus.
He is a combination of humanity and divinity, part human, part God.
He is a hybrid of sorts…the god-man
But someone who is only part human and part God is neither human nor God and this Jesus cannot save us.
This is what we call the Spider-Man heresy.
Traditionally, the heresy is known as Eutychianism or Monophysitism.
Fifth Century…400’s AD.
Nestorious, Bishop of Constantinople says Jesus possessed two natures and two persons with two centers of conscious. This was known as “Nestorianism”
Think Gollum-Smegal split personality from the Lord of the Rings.
To combat this heresy, a monastery leader named Eutyches argued that Jesus had only one nature and one person.
After the incarnation, Jesus’ divine nature was combined with a human nature to form a new nature (part-human/part-divine).
Eutyches thought he was defending the deity of Christ by denouncing that Jesus had two natures and two persons…after all…it is much easier to believe that Jesus is one person that has one nature than Jesus having two natures and two consciouses.
Yet, when you create something by mixing two ingredients, you always lose the original two ingredients.
Example: mixing colors…yellow and blue make green....when you mix these colors and they create green....you cannot get the yellow or blue back no matter how hard you try.
So it is the same thing with Jesus…if his divine nature combined with his human nature to form a new nature…a hybrid nature....a part god-part man nature....Jesus is no longer human and no longer God…but his is a god-man…kind of like Spider-Man.
If Jesus is no longer human…than we have all the issues of the Superman heresy…If Jesus is no longer human....he cannot represent us, he cannot die for us, he cannot relate with us, he cannot help us in our time of need, etc.
If Jesus is no longer God…than we have all the issues of the Batman heresy…he cannot pay for all our sin, he cannot appease God, he cannot defeat death, etc.
Ultimately, Eutychianism was rejected by the council of Chalcedon in 451 and deemed a heresy by Pope Leo the Great.
Who Commits The Spider-Man Heresy Today?
Who Commits The Spider-Man Heresy Today?
We can commit the Spider-Man heresy today anytime we see Jesus as not fully God and fully man…but only partially human or partially God.
This can occur when we think Jesus can’t actually relate to us…because he is God....we only emphasize his deity and forget about his humanity.
Jesus is our savior…but how could he relate to me as a human?
Again, the flaws of the Superman heresy often overlap with the Spider-Man heresy when we do not see Jesus as fully human who was like us in every way yet without sin.
As we talked about earlier, Spider-Man is one of the most relatable superhero characters....however, it is ironic, because since Spider-Man has a hybrid nature of a man and a spider…he is no longer human in anyway like us... and cannot relate to us at all.
It is the same thing with viewing Jesus only being part human and part God. If Jesus is not fully human…than he cannot relate to us, help us, or save us.
We can lapse into the Spider-Man heresy also when it comes to prayer and times of temptation. If we have ever despaired to think that the distance between us and God is so great....he is so holy and infinite that he could never relate to or help us…we have forgotten that the divine Son of God took on flesh and became a full human being....to relate with us, be our mediator, and be our savior!
To not fall into this thinking and to know who Jesus truly is, we must again go back to the Bible to see what it says about Jesus’ human and divine nature.
What The Bible Says
What The Bible Says
Contrary to the ideas of Eutyches and Nestorious, Jesus does not have two natures in two persons…nor does he have one hybrid nature in one person…but the Bible teaches that Jesus has two natures (fully God and fully man) that are unified in one person.
One of the best examples of the two natures of Jesus coexisting can be seen from Mark 4:35-41.
Now, to give some context, Jesus had just got done preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God in parables for most of the day....so Mark says...
Mark 4:35-41 “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Clearly this is an example of Jesus’ full humanity. He was dead asleep on the boat after a long day of teaching. He was exhausted and worn out and he needed to rest. But look at how he responds in verse 39...
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?””
In Psalm 104 and Job 38-40, it is God alone who can command the wind and the waves. Yet, Jesus stands up and rebukes the sea, and at the sound of his voice there is complete peace in the water.
Clearly this is an example of Jesus’ full divinity on display.
The response of the disciples was that they were even more afraid of Jesus than they were of the storm....because they knew only God could do what Jesus did....yet Jesus was a human…asleep on the cushion a few moments ago…therefore… “who is this that even the wind and waves obey him???”
Like we have learned in our previous discussions about Jesus, God the Son has always existed, being of the same nature as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Yet, when the Son took on flesh, he took on a full human nature. This did not mix with his divine nature to create a hybrid new nature…but his human nature co-existed alongside his divine nature in his one unified person. This is what theologians call the “hypostatic union”
The Chalcedonian Definition:
“One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ...”
So, to summarize: Jesus is both fully God and fully man, two natures in one unified person.
Why Is This Important?
Why Is This Important?
But why is this important? How does this doctrinal truth about Jesus affect our lives today?
Let me give you three reasons...
Jesus’ Resurrection as a Man Guarantees That We will Be Raised Like Jesus.
Jesus is called the “firstfruits” of the resurrection, and Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, that just as Jesus rose bodily from the dead, we will also rise bodily from the grave when he returns to consummate his kingdom.
Our first representative, Adam, fell and sinned against God…and since he is our representative, when Adam died, we died as Paul says in Romans 5.
Yet, Christ came to reverse Adam’s curse and be our new representative, so that all those who trust in Christ will be in Him and will experience the resurrection of the dead just as Jesus did.
If Jesus was not fully human, he did not have a body just like ours, he could not take our place and pay for our sin debt as humans, and even if he rose in his hybrid nature, it would not profit our human bodies.
But, because Jesus was fully man and had a human body like ours, his bodily resurrection guarantees our bodily resurrection when he returns.
In fact, John says in his first letter that when Jesus comes back and raises our bodies from the dead…we will “be like him because we will see him as he is!”
Now…here is where this gets personal…If our end destiny as Christians is for our bodies we currently have, to be raised from the dead, be glorified, and become just as Jesus is…then why would we waste our time, resources, and lives on anything that would not contribute to becoming more like Jesus in our lives right now???
having the perfect body…or gorging and destroying our body and health?
mindless hours of video games, movies, tv shows, etc.?
Worldly success/popularity/being famous?
We need to realize that we will worship the Lord for eternity in heaven…so why would we not worship the Lord in all that we do right now if that is our destiny as Christians?
Since we will one day be like Jesus…we should pursue purity in holiness right now in all we do…anything else is simply a waste of time and dishonoring to God.
Jesus Has Enabled Us to Be Adopted by God, Coheirs with Him
Because Jesus is fully human, when he rose from the dead, he calls us his brothers and sisters.
John 20:17 “Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ””
The risen Jesus identifies us as his family members and friends.
Jesus is the Son of God…and through faith in Christ, we are adopted into the family of God and become sons of God as well.
Galatians 4:4-7 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
To be an heir means to receive all the property and inheritance…being heirs of God…this means we receive all the blessings of being in a relationship with God…as he is now our Father.
In fact, Paul says in Romans 8 that we are not only sons of God but we are “co-heirs” with Christ! We will reign with Christ one day in the new heavens and new earth!
Our adoption and privilege to be a co-heir with Jesus is only possible because we share something vital in common: humanity…but if Jesus was like Spider-Man…this would not be possible.
Jesus Is Our Great High Priest
Consider the story of Job...
Job was being accused of things he knew he had not done by his friends
But he could not plead his case before God…because he was a mere man....and God was…GOD.
He needed a mediator, but realized… “There is no mediator between us, to lay his hand on both of us.” (Job 9:32-33).
Job needed someone who knew what it was like to be God to “put their hand on God,” but at the same time, Job needed someone who knew what it was like to be human and shared Job’s perspective and could “put his hand on Job.” Yet for Job…this person was not there....
But not for you and me…we have a person just like this in the Lord Jesus Christ...
1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all...”
Jesus is our great high priest who intercedes for us on our behalf. Romans and Hebrews tell us that Jesus does this daily and “lives to be our mediator and advocate to the Father.”
Jesus is our redeemer who saves us but he is also our motivator who inspires us…Hebrews 12:3 tells when we face trials and do not feel like we can continue to stand for Christ....“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
But if Jesus was not fully human and fully God, he could not be our mediator, he could not be our advocate, he could not be our intercessor, nor could he be our redeemer.
But, this is the wonderful thing about Jesus…as Todd Miles says…Because Jesus is both fully God and fully man... “The man who inspires our endurance is also the God who enables that endurance.”
Jesus not only inspires us to persevere in our faith as we look to him as a man who endured and withstood every trial and temptation without sin....we can also look to him as our God who has saved us from our sin and will give us the power to endure and overcome temptations through the Holy Spirit.
THIS IS WHY THE INCARNATION IS SO AMAZING…THIS IS WHY CHRISTMAS IS SO WONDERFUL!
So as I close us in prayer tonight…I want you to consider how you will respond to these truths about Jesus....