Summary: Christ: the Perfect Teacher, Example, Sacrifice and Advocate, also considering some of the heresies surrounding his person and nature
"And the Word was made flesh" (KJV)
"The Word became a human being" (GNB)
"The Word became flesh" (NIV, RSV, Ricker Berry)
In becoming human, Christ becomes...
1. The Perfect Teacher, a model of how God thinks and how we should think (Phil. 2:5-11).
3. The Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus came as a sacrifice for sins, and his death satisfied God’s just requirements (Colossians 1:15-23).
Question: In what ways did Jesus take upon Himself human nature?
• Born of a woman.
• Grew from infancy to boyhood to adulthood, in wisdom and in stature (Luke 2:52).
• He was hungry, thirsty, ate, drank, slept, was weary, felt pain, wept, rejoiced, marvelled, was moved to anger and to compassion.
• He prayed, read the Bible, was tempted, submitted His human will to the Father.
• In this body, He suffered, died, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven.
• But He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).
Question: How can Jesus be both God and man?
2nd of 39 Articles:
"The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and the manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man."
"Christ is God and Man; God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the world, and man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man. Who, although He be God and man, yet He is not two but one Christ; one not by conversion of the godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God."
• Jesus was never not God- not in the womb, not as a child, not in the Temptation, not in Gethsemane, not on the Cross (Acts 20:28), not in the Tomb.
• Jesus has never not been human since the incarnation- not when he walked on water, not when he raised the dead, not in His resurrection body, not when He ascended into heaven.
"The first Adam was only man, and so he fell. The second Adam was God as well as man, and so He completely conquered" (Ryle).
Note: this is the last time John uses the name, ’The Word’.
Question: why does the text say ’flesh’ and not ’man’?
Westcott suggests that "the Lord’s humanity was universal, not individual, as including all that belongs to the essence of man, without regard to sex or race or time".
It is interesting that the Word of God which never fails (Ps.119:89) should become flesh which is as grass (Isaiah 40:6).
The nature of the Word who became flesh:
• I am what I was, that is God
• I was not what I am, that is man
• I am now called both, that is both God and man
Henry notes that Job desired to "see God in my flesh" (19:26).
Various heresies (still around with different names!)
1. Arianism: Jesus was not true God.
Bible: "The Word was God...the Word became flesh" (John 1:1, 14).
Divine and human natures were united truly (Colossians 2:9).
Neo-charismatic, Latter Rain, Health & Wealth, Dominion, Kingdom, Restoration and Reconstruction theologies, as well as Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians, all claim that Jesus was a Spirit-filled man but not God. Or they claim that if Jesus is God, then so are we all incarnations of God.
The Roman Catholic Church similarly elevates Mary to the status of God (sinless, born of virgin, assumed into heaven, Queen of Heaven and Mother of God), thereby undermining the truth of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ.
2. Apollinarianism: Jesus is God and took a man’s body, but not a human soul- "His divinity supplied the room of a soul".
Bible: "The Word became flesh". ’Flesh’ is the whole human nature (see Vine’s above).
Divine and human natures were united perfectly.
"The Word did not merely indwell a human being. Absolute identity is asserted. The Word is Jesus; Jesus is the Word. And it is said that the Word became flesh because ’flesh’ is that part of human nature commonly associated with frailty and evil; commonly, but not necessarily. In Jesus the flesh is the completely responsive vehicle of the spirit. The whole of Him, flesh included, is the Word, the self-utterance of God" (Temple).