In his work On the Incarnation, the 4th century church father Athanasius of Alexandria wrote, “He [Jesus] became what we are that we might become what he is.”
At first glance, it might be easy to think Athanasius means we become god–or a god. Certainly theologians over the years have argued that.
But that’s not quite right.
When we trust in Jesus, we don’t get to become a god.
We get to become truly human again.
You see, we were created in the image of God. That’s what it means to be human. But because of sin and its destructive effects, our image bearing is marred.
We were created to live in perfect, sweet fellowship with our Father in heaven. But we don’t. We can’t.
We are like cracked mirrors reflecting God’s glory and beauty. So, we are still image bearers, but the reflection is far from ideal. In a way, we can say that we are functionally operating as “less than human.” That’s what sin does.
The Second Person of the Trinity took on flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and lived a perfectly obedient human life, always walking in perfect, intimate fellowship with his Father in heaven.
When God gives someone new life by his Spirit, he begins to transform them to become more like Jesus–the perfect Human. The horrible effects of sin are being undone, as it were, and we learn what it means to truly be image bearers and live before God in constant fellowship.
This process isn’t ever completed this side of the grave. The cracks are still there.
But God is working (slow as it seems to us). And we’re becoming truly human again.
I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The full life is lived with, under, and before God. It’s what we were made for. It’s what it means to be truly human. And it’s only possible because the Son took on flesh.