Truth and Beauty

Jesus Christ - A Broader View


God reaching to humanity


In the Western culture, Jesus Christ is regarded as the Son of God, born human to become the Saviour of sinners who are under an eternal death penalty (Rom 6:23). He died on the cross and thereby redeemed sinful humans who have been forgiven and justified by their faith in Christ’s atoning death. The gift of God to those thus justified is eternal life.

     As a result of the socio-cultural background of the Western civilization – Greco-Roman politico-legal base and Judeo-Christian ethic foundation – the Western culture can be seen as a “guilt culture’” in contrast to the “shame culture” of the Asian peoples of the East. The scientific approach that developed since the Enlightenment encourages the presentation of the person and work of Jesus Christ in a logical and rational manner. Reality is expressed in terms of “either-or” in contrast to the Eastern integrated thinking of “both-and”. In addition, the focus on individual freedom and exercising one’s own will leads to emphasis of the individual aspect of salvation and personal decision.

     From an Asian, specifically, Chinese, perspective, Jesus Christ can be seen from another perspective, still in harmony with the Scriptures, and broadening the Western view.    

      Combining the concepts of Chinese characters, “tien-ren-he-yi-di-tao”, Jesus Christ’s essential identity is expressed as “heaven-man-unite-one-tao.” With the Chinese cognitive pattern/process characterized by a holistic and integrative perspective, emphasis on unity, and reasoning in “both-and” paradigm, the incarnate Jesus and the resurrected Christ becomes “Tao – the God-Man”. 


     The heavenly and earthly natures of Jesus Christ as taught in the Scriptures and expressed in ancient Christian creeds can be contrasted as follows.


Heavenly (God)

Earthly (Man)

1. Eternal, infinite, changeless, and faithful (Mic 5:2; Jn 8:58; Col 1:17; Rev 1:8; Heb 13:8; 2Tim 2:13) 

1. With a beginning and end, in flesh and blood body (Mt 1; Lk 2:40, 24:39)

2. All powerful (omnipotent)

- creator and sovereign (Jn 1:3,10)

- over sin and sickness (Lk 7:48; Mt 8-9)

- over Satan and death (Jn 5:22, 11:44; Rev 20-21)

2. Seemingly powerless

- tired, tempted, weeping (Mt 26-27)

- betrayed and crucified (Jn 18-20)

- less than the Father (Jn 5:19; 1 Cor 11:3)

3. Omnipresent – not limited by time and space (Mt 18:20; Jn 1:48; Jn 3:13)


3. Limited by time and space (Php 2:5-8; Heb 2:14)

- birth and death, within a given time and on schedule

4. All knowing (omniscient)

(Mk 11:2-6; Jn 2:24-25; Lk 5:22; Rev 2:23)

4. Limited in knowledge (Mk 13:32)


5. Sinless and holy
(Mk 1:24; 1Pe 2:22; Jn 19:4; Ac 3:14)

5. Sin bearer and judged by God

(Is 53; Mk 15:34; Ro 4:25; 1 Co 15:3)

6. Equal with the Father, forgiving sins (Jn 5:18; 10:30, 11:36, 15:13; Lk 7:48; Tit 3:5)

6. Submitting to the Father

(Jn 8:42; Heb 5:8)


7. Truly God who became man

(Jn 1:1-2, 14; Php 2:5-8; Col 1:15, 2:9; 1Ti 2:5, 3:16; Heb 2:14)

7. Truly man but exalted and glorified (1Cor 15; Jn 17:2; 17:5; Acts 2:36; Php 2:5-8; Rev 11:15)



     The Chinese concept of the “Tao – the God-Man” also includes the biblical idea of the timeless “Logos” or “Word” (Jn 1:1-5 and 1 Jn 1:1-2). Like “Tao”, Jesus is “the Way” to God (Jn 14:6; Heb 7:15) and the One uniting God with humanity. He is also the One who unites Jews and gentiles (Eph 2:11-22), and eventually, in the future, all things (Eph 1:9-10). 

In the Eastern cultures, where strong personal relationships are of utmost importance and confrontation is to be avoided at all costs, salvation is best understood as a reconciled relationship vertically with God and horizontally with fellow humans. Man, created in the image of God, enjoyed close communion with God before the Fall. However, his misuse of the gift of free will brought him punishment and severed his relationship with God and the created order (relationship with others as well as the natural order). Yet God initiated a plan of salvation and implemented the process of reconciliation with himself through the Son.

  Another Chinese cultural theme is “honour and shame.” To the Chinese, honour is more important than personal life, property and power. It is the life goal of an individual to live with and strive for, not only personally but for the whole family – nuclear and extended, living members, and deceased ancestors. Shame is to be avoided at all costs, and causing someone to “lose face” is a terrible mistake. Jesus Christ is both the shame-bearer for sinners and the honour-winner for believers.

     To sum up, by adding some Eastern concepts to the traditional Western understanding, Jesus Christ can be seen as simultaneously human and divine, the Way to God, the mediator and reconciler in broken relationships, sin and shame bearer, and ultimately the restorer of honour, harmony and unity throughout the universe.

Author and source of ideas: Enoch Wan, 

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