Summary: By becoming a man: 1. Jesus identified with humanity. 2. Jesus dignified humanity. 3. Jesus delivered humanity.
We have a lot of ideas of what the perfect man should be. If you buy a copy of Alpha Male you will see that some people think it is the man who obtains the perfect body by spending countless hours in the gym getting ripped. In the corporate world the perfect man might be someone like Robert Ringer who wrote Winning through Intimidation, and Looking Out for No. 1, as the way to succeed in business. You might think of a man who has been through sensitivity training — one who has read Daniel Goelman’s book, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, where he talks about self-awareness, and relationships. You might think of a celebrity, a singer or a New York fireman. But how many people would think of Jesus?
Jesus really was the perfect man. Reading through the biblical books that contain the story of his life you see his enormous courage. He stood against the powers of his day, both religious and political. He singlehandedly cleared the temple. He stared death in the face and did not back down. He endured beatings, and willingly stayed on the cross through unimaginable suffering. Yet he was one of the most sensitive men alive. He was gentle. He touched lepers. He wept over lost people. He took children into his arms to bless them. He ministered to hurting people and spent long hours teaching and healing them. He stayed up all night praying. He died, then broke the grip of death in his resurrection. He lives forever as that part of God who can never forget what it is like to be human.
Last week we talked about the divinity of Christ. This week we are considering the humanity of Christ. Jesus Christ was 100% divine, but he was also 100% human. This is a mystery, the reality of which was lived out in the life of one we call Jesus the Christ. The Bible, in talking about Christ, says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). It also says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). The Bible explains how Christ being both God and man fulfilled the purposes of God: “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
The first point I would like to emphasize this morning is that by becoming a man: Jesus identified with humanity. Jesus came to live among us as one of us. There is nothing about the human condition that he has not personally experienced. The Bible says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
He was God who had come to live among us. He was the perfect man, but he was not Superman. Superman could catch a bullet with his teeth or stand in a blazing fire untouched. Jesus Christ could not do that. The amazing thing is that he came to us in a vulnerable condition. If he was tempted, he felt the pull. If he was cut, he bled. If he was hit, he bruised. If he was rejected, he felt emotional pain. If he fell he got hurt. It was possible for him to die. In fact, if he had not been vulnerable like this, he would not have been the perfect man. He would have been a demigod, but not the very real, personal and human Jesus. Now we know he understands us because he was like us.
Not many years after the death and resurrection of Christ, a heresy called Docetism arose among some who said that Jesus’ body only “seemed” to be real. The Docetists believed that he could not feel pain, and that his body was spiritual so that if he walked on the sand he would not leave footprints; if he walked on grass the blades of grass would not bend over when he walked on them. This was the opposite kind of heresy from the other heresy which said that Christ was not God — merely human. They believed that he was not human at all — totally divine. This was such a devious heresy because it sounded so spiritual while it robbed Christ of his humanity, and robbed us of the assurance that he entered our experience in the fullest sense. If Jesus had not become one of us he would not have known what we feel. We could never be sure if he really understood us. More than that, if he had not become one of us, he could not have died in our place.