Summary: The incarnation of Christ, his attributes as the Son of Man, our elder brother, forerunner and representative.
The humanity of Jesus
1. Incarnation- the Christ-child
“All that it takes to be a man is found in this Man. In this One called Jesus we encounter a human reality…However the Incarnation is interpreted it is one essential to keep clear in mind that there was no diminution of the human as a result/ The Word became flesh; and this must be understood in its bald actuality and stark literalness. In the Person of Jesus Christ, He who was eternally with the Father took to Himself a full human life, thereby entering as Son of God into all the conditions of human physical life, as well as into all the conditions of human psychical life. In the man Jesus “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2L9)…To redeem us God must needs express Himself in terms of our common human experiences. And the human reality of Jesus is the historic implication and the living vindication of this necessity” (p19-20, Jesus- Human and Divine, HD McDonald).
Born of a virgin. Why?
• No inherited sin or sinful nature (inherited from Adam- this line of descent is partially interrupted)
• The second Adam, the firstborn from among the dead, the start of a new race, a holy nation
• Prophesied as a miraculous sign of Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14)
Questions: why do you think that many liberal theologians are so anxious to pooh-pooh the virgin birth? Why do you think, on the other hand, the Pope is so anxious to insist on the perpetual virginity of Mary (i.e. she never had sex or any other children)? What does Mary represent to you? Why didn’t God just come down fully adult without human agency? How does the Incarnation demonstrate God’s love?
2. Aspects of Jesus’ humanity
• Human body [see verses on overview]
• Human soul (mind, emotions, will)
• Human spirit (part of man that communes with God)
People near him saw him as a mere man (Matthew 13:53-58, “Where then did this man get all this?”).
But he was sinless (2 Cor.5:21). Could he have sinned? If yes, then he would no longer be God. If no, then were his temptations genuine? And James 1:13 says that God can’t be tempted with evil! Able not to sin rather than not able to sin? His divine nature meant that his human nature was always kept in check (unlike Adam and Eve’s) so that he always chose to resist evil. Interestingly, even though He was and is God, he chose to resist the devil by means of the Scriptures, rather than just off the top of his head (Matthew 4:1-11). How much more (a fortiori) ought we then to learn our Scriptures and use the Bible as a shield and sword (Ephesians 6:17).
Question: which aspects of Jesus’ humanity touch you the most?
3. Why did he need to be human?
• To be an obedient representative of mankind (Romans 5:18-19)
• To be a substitute sacrifice (Hebrews 2:16-17)
• To be the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim.2:5)
• To be our example and pattern in life (1 John 2:6)
• To be the pattern for our redeemed and resurrected bodies; he is “the first fruits” (1 Cor.15:23)
• To sympathise as our High Priest (Hebrews 2:18)
Question: if someone asked you, could you define these offices or titles of Jesus: mediator, propitiaton, substitute, redeemer, ransom, messiah, christ, saviour, lord, lamb, branch of Jesse, word, high priest, prophet, king, emmanuel, wonderful counselor, mighty god, firstborn from among the dead, servant, man of sorrows, son of man, son of god, lover of our souls?
4. Present and future Son of Man: Jesus was not always a man (BC) but will be a man forever more (AD to Eternity)
John 20:25-27; Revelation 1:13-17. His divine nature permanently was united to his human nature when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit through Mary: the mystical union of the God-man, one Person with two Natures, within the One godhead of three Persons.
Question: if the Triune God is eternal and outside of time, how can the Second Person of the Trinity ‘become’ human at some ‘point’ and ‘stay’ human forever? What does the fact that we can’t answer that question at all say?
5. Jesus- our elder brother, our forerunner, our representative, our advocate; but also our Lord, our Ruler, our Judge and our King.
Thought: as the Mormon Elder Kruger asked us, “What does Jesus mean to you?” Write it down, pray about it, and pray for Elder Kruger, too. Be ready to tell any pre-Christian friend the answer to that question, and sometimes don’t even wait for the question (1 Peter 3:15).