But Jesus is God!?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us… (John 1.1,14)
The most common rebuttal I hear to seeing Jesus as the aim of our discipleship is; “But Jesus was God! There’s no way we could be like Him. I mean He walked on water, raised the dead, and forgave sins!” And…so did Peter. (Mt 14.49, Ac 9.40-41, Jn 20.23)
I think the biggest mistakes in discipleship are to 1) not see Jesus as the primary and attainable model and 2) stripping Jesus of His deity in order to achieve this goal. Jesus was and is 100%, man and God. But this is an interesting theological conundrum. Let’s look at Philippians 2.5-8
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Phil 2.5-8)
Jesus is the God/Man. But He operated in the confines of the flesh. He restricted His activities to things we can fully emulate if we completely abide in Him. Otherwise, He wouldn’t be the sympathetic High Priest (Heb 4:14-16, Mk 10.45) and in a sense would be cheating. It’s like having special super powers that we could never have and yet that’s the expectation. We are only touching the tip of the iceberg on this topic but suffice it to say, while Jesus was in fact fully God, He did not tap into His deity during His earthly ministry. He is an exemplary and legitimate example for us to follow and be the aim of our discipleship. Yes, Jesus is God, always has been 100% but He did limit Himself to time, space, and energy as a man to give a pattern for life. He is what we were always meant to be in the image of God.