This is a perfectly legitimate question. But it is complex, and needs to be analyzed carefully and incrementally.
What Is the Nature of Christ?
If the New Testament clearly affirms the divine nature of Jesus Christ and yet the Lord referred to the Father as “my God,” then obviously there is no compromise of the Savior’s nature by his use of this expression.
It is beyond dispute that the Bible affirms the deity of Jesus Christ. Any student of the scriptures who has a threshold level of interpretative ability can see this truth. The following facts are evident.
First, the Old Testament unequivocally foretold the coming of the incarnate God (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; 40:3; 44:6; Jer. 23:5-6; Micah 5:2; Zech. 13:7).
Second, Christ himself claimed to be deity in nature (Jn. 5:17-18;10:30). Others acknowledged him as such, and even worshiped him — both angels (Heb. 1:6) and men (Mt. 2:2; 14:33; Jn. 20:28).
There must, therefore, be a way of harmonizing these facts with the Savior’s use of the expression “my God.”
Addresses such as “my God” and “my Father” (Mt. 27:46; Lk. 2:49; Jn. 5:17-18; 10:37-38; 20:17), when employed by Christ, certainly have a connection with the incarnation (i.e., the Word becoming flesh (Jn. 1:14; cf. Phil. 2:5-11).
However, the use of singular pronouns like, “my” and “mine” rather than the plurals, like “our” and “ours” reflects a distancing of himself from ordinary people in terms of an equal relationship with the Father. This suggests a unique association between Christ and God. It hints of a nature not shared with others. It underscores his deity.
Christ Retains His Humanity
What many do not realize is the fact that Jesus Christ, even after his ascension back into heaven, retained a nature-identification with his people. This is a most profound truth that is scarcely perceived by many Christians. Let’s analyze the evidence.
After his conversion, Saul of Tarsus began preaching the gospel of Christ in the city of Damascus. In his presentations he “kept on proclaiming” (so the force of the verb in Acts 9:20) of Jesus that “he is [present tense verb] the Son of God.”
Christ had ascended back to the Father years earlier, yet he retained his incarnate title, Son of God. This is very significant.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, there is the grand promise to be realized at the time of Christ’s return. The Lord will “fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory” (Phil. 3:21).
This text not only gloriously previews the Christian’s future immortal body at the time of the general resurrection, it also affirms the fact of Jesus’ present status, which includes “the body of his glory.” Or, to say the same thing, “his glorified body.”
The Lord had been back in heaven for decades, yet he retains a glorious body identifying him as human, in addition to divine.
As one scholar expressed the matter, his glorious body is “His sacred human body, as he resumed it in Resurrection, and carried it up in Ascension, and is manifested in it to the Blessed” (Moule, 106-107).
In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul declared, “in him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
Several points are profound. The verb “dwells” (
katoikei) is a present tense form, which suggests a fixed or permanent abode, in contrast to that which is transitory (Lightfoot, 157, 179). It depicts a condition at the time the apostle is writing, some thirty years after the ascension of the Lord back to the right hand of the Father.
The expression “fullness of the Godhead” refers to the full complement of qualities that constitutes the nature of deity.
Finally, “bodily” has to do with “the once mortal, now glorified, body of Christ” (Ellicott, 164). As Harrison observed, the text “certainly teaches that the incarnation continues to be a fact” (58).
One of the redemptive roles that Jesus occupies is that of mediator. A mediator is a “go-between” between two parties — in this case, God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).
Paul, in discussing this matter, contends that one aspect of this circumstance is the fact that the mediator is “man.” Now the fact is, the mediatorial role of Christ is one that is operative for the entire scope of the Christian age (cf. Heb. 9:15, with emphasis upon the present tense verb, “is”).
Even though Jesus was in heaven at this time, the man aspect of his nature prevailed still.
There are several reflections in Hebrews that relate to this theme. The inspired writer states: “But we behold him who has been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus” (Heb. 2:9). Of special significance is the verb
elattomenon, a perfect passive form rendered “has been made lower.”
“The perfect [tense] emphasizes the completed state of condition and indicates that the human nature which Christ assumed He still retains” (Rienecker, 2.322, appealing to Westcott).
In verse 11, the writer continues. “For both he that sanctifies and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Psalm 22 is then quoted as a prophetical confirmation of the relationship between Christ and his people.
The Savior shares the human nature with them. Of special interest is the verbal
ouk epaischunetai [is not ashamed], a present tense form, indicating a sustained state. Though already in heaven, the Son of God continues to share the “brother” nature with us.
This concept of the abiding human nature of Jesus with no forfeiture of deity is as beautiful as it is intriguing.
For further study see our article, A Breathtaking View Of The Love Of Christ.
There certainly is no conflict in the ascended Lord’s recognition of the Father as “my God,” as he continues to acknowledge the status of a subordinated role he accepted and the full measure of deity that always has been his nature.