Chapter 10 in About God
As the preceding three chapters demonstrated, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, fully God, one with His Father. However, that is not the whole story. Jesus is also a man, fully human, like us. This fact is of such great importance that one cannot truly know God without it:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
The above is from 1 John 4:1-3; please do compare, 2 John 1:7.
The remainder of this chapter will discuss Jesus' humanity, and the importance of it, in three sections. The first section will discuss those scriptures which attest to the fact that Jesus was born, matured, suffered, died and was raised from death as a human being, and that, in His earthly life, He was subject to the same passions, temptations and problems that affect us, yet without sin. Following this is an extended discussion of those many passages in the Gospels in which Jesus calls Himself "the Son of Man." These passages both underscore the importance of Jesus' full humanity and explain why many throughout the two succeeding millennia have denied it. This chapter will conclude with a discussion of those passages, primarily in the Epistles, that explain the importance of Jesus' humanity to salvation, the Christian life and our hope. Truly, any spirit or any person that denies Jesus' humanity seeks to set up something else as a substitute for (anti-) Christ, a substitute which cannot save.
Though Jesus is God, he also was, and is, fully human. He was born as a man, under the Law, through Mary. Matthew 1:18, 20, 24-25; Galatians 4:4. Although His conception was miraculous, the scriptures make it clear that His miraculous conception did not prevent Him from being fully human. When Jesus was conceived, the Holy Spirit "came upon" his mother, resulting in His conception. Luke 1:29-35. Thus, the male seed was from God. However, Jesus is also the "seed of the woman" who bruised the serpent's head; thus, the ovum was from His mother. See, Genesis 3:15. The miracle was that God directly provided the seed for conception, making Jesus both the Son of God and the son of Mary. As the son of Mary, the seed of the woman, he was fully human.
Moreover, the Gospel accounts show that Mary accomplished a normal gestation with Jesus and gave birth to him in the normal way. See, Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:5-7. He was born as a baby, not an adult--and certainly not as a superhuman adult. See, Luke 2:12, 16, 28.
At the age of two, Jesus was indistinguishable from the other male toddlers in Bethlehem. Thus, when the Magi came to Herod reporting the birth of a new King, he had not heard of any unusual babies there. This is well demonstrated by the fact that Herod, instead of sending his soldiers to kill only that one special baby, sent them to kill all of the male babies in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Matthew 2:1-12. After that, the only thing that is known about Jesus' childhood up to age twelve is that his family, having left Bethlehem in haste, moved first to Egypt and then back to Nazareth, and that, in the midst of all of this, Jesus apparently matured normally. Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:52. That Jesus grew normally is shown by his experience with the scribes in the temple at the age of twelve. He sat in the temple discoursing with the scribes for three days, and they were amazed at his wisdom, but no mention is made that they found anything else about him to be unusual. His wisdom amazed them because he looked like the twelve year old he was and he was wise beyond his years. Luke 2:41-48.
However, even as regards his wisdom, Jesus was human. By this is meant that he was subject to growth, not that he was subject to error. After His three days in the temple at age twelve, Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents and was subject to them. Luke 2:51. Between that time and the beginning of His public ministry, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:52. Though by nature and right He was God, Jesus humbled himself and was made fully in our likeness. Philippians 2:6-8. He even had to grow up physically and to learn wisdom and knowledge, just as we do.
Furthermore, Jesus had to learn obedience to His Father, just as we do. The writer to the Hebrews states that Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. Hebrews 5:8. Jesus never disobeyed His Father, but always did those things He saw His Father doing. John 5:19. Yet, though He was without sin, He had to learn obedience like us. Ultimately, he became obedient, even to death on a cross. Phillipians 2:8.
In His earthly life and death, Jesus' suffering was real. He had needs, appetites and emotions just like ours. He endured every temptation we face, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 4:1-10. Jesus could become hungry, and could suffer temptation through His appetite for food. Matthew 4:2-4; Matthew 21:18. Jesus suffered thirst. John 19:28. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:3. He suffered grief, and wept at the death of a friend. John 11:33, 35. He was grieved by the hardness of men's hearts. Mark 3:5. When He faced the fear of death in our place in Gethsemane, He felt "anguish" so powerful that he sweat drops of blood Luke 22:44; see, Hebrews 2:14-15. But he overcame this fear, and submitted to His Father's will. Luke 22:42: Matthew 26:53-54. He was grieved at the rejection of men. Luke 13:34-35. Jesus knew rejection by his own people -- who preferred a murderer to Him. Luke 23:18; John 18:30-40; John 19:14-16; Acts 3:13-14. He knew betrayal and abandonment by His friends. Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:27-30; Luke 22:47-48. He knew false accusation, with no one to defend Him. Mark 14:55-59. He faced a mock trial and suffered the ultimate injustice. Luke 23:13-25; John 19:1-16. He suffered the ultimate humiliation -- being hung naked on a cross for the watching crowd to mock. John 19:23-24. He knew absolute loneliness when even His Father briefly forsook Him on the Cross. Matthew 27:46. He died the most painful death known to the ancient world, and was confirmed by His executioners to have actually died. Mark 15:44-45; John 19:33-34. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53:4. In every way, He became like us, except for our sin. Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15.
When He was raised from the dead, He was raised in a human body. Matthew 28:5-10; Mark 16:6-11; Luke 24; John 20. The resurrected Christ could be seen and touched. Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:37-39. The wounds of the crucifixion were still visible and could be touched. Luke 24:40; John 20:25-27. He could eat food. Luke 24:30-31, 40-43; John 21:12-15. He was breathing, and breathed on His disciples to give them the Holy Spirit. John 20:22. He is the firstfruits from among the dead, the pattern for our resurrection. I Corinthians 15:20-23.
In describing himself, the name Jesus most often used was "the Son of Man." He always appears to have used this title to emphasize His humanity. However, He emphasized His humanity for differing reasons on various occasions.
Occasionally, Jesus appears to have used this title mainly to emphasize that He is human like us, thus emphasizing the importance of men to God. Thus, for instance, in Luke 9:58, Jesus spoke of the demands of His ministry when He contrasted Himself to birds and foxes, which have nests, while He had no place to lay his head. Compare, Matthew 8:20. Similarly, in Matthew 11:19, Jesus pointed out that the men of his generation had found fault with the humanness both of him and John the Baptist. Because John neither ate nor drank ordinary things, they said he had a demon; because Jesus both ate and drank, they accused him of being a drunk, a glutton and a friend of bad people. See also, Luke 7:31-35.
On other occasions, Jesus used the title "Son of Man" to emphasize his humanity as God's spokesman, the prophet like Moses raised up from among his people. See, Deuteronomy 18:18-19. For example, in explaining why his disciples did not break the Sabbath when they picked heads of grain to eat on that day, Jesus first explained the precedents of David and his men eating the consecrated bread and of priests in the temple doing their work on the Sabbath. He the stated that "one greater than the temple is here," in reference to Himself, and then stated "for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:3-6; compare Mark 2:25-28, Luke 6:3-5. In John 1:50-51, after amazing Nathanael by demonstrating his ability to see events without being physically present for them, Jesus told Nathanael that he would see "greater things than these," namely "the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." In John 6:62, Jesus asked the unbelieving crowd, who had come looking for more miracles, the rhetorical question "what if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before -- would you then believe?" He then emphasized the importance of His words, which are spirit and life. John 6:63.
Jesus twice explained His care for people that others ignored or rejected by stating that He, the Son of Man, had come to save, or to seek and save that which was lost. In the first instance, Jesus said this after explaining to his disciples that they must welcome little children, and never turn them away or cause them offense, because only those who change and become like little children will enter the kingdom at all. Matthew 18:2-11. In the second instance, He said this of the tax collector Zacchaeus, who repented after Jesus went to his house for dinner. Luke 19:5-10. Jesus came as a man to call sinners to repentance. Matthew 9:13. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. Luke 9:56.
Jesus also used the title "Son of Man" in one context dealing with His present kingdom among men in the Church. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the man who sowed the good seed, the children of the Kingdom, into the field of the world was the Son of Man. It will also be the Son of Man who dispatches the angels to gather the tares and harvest the wheat at the end of this age. Matthew 13:37, 41.
Jesus also frequently used the title "Son of Man" when speaking with reference to His suffering, death and resurrection. Thus, Jesus early predicted that just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish as a sign to the Ninevites, "so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" as a sign to His generation. Matthew 12:40; Luke 11:30. Jesus told Peter, James and John not to tell anyone about His transfiguration "until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." Matthew 17:9; Mark 9:9. In Matthew 17:12, Jesus told the people that Elijah had already come, and they had done to him as they wished, and "likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them." Mark 9:12-13. Ten verses later, Jesus predicted that "the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again." Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:31. In Luke 17:24-25, Jesus declared that the "Son of Man" would return to judge the world, "but first he must suffer many things and be rejected of this generation." Jesus taught His disciples that the Son of Man would suffer many things, be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the Law, be killed and rise again the third day. Mark 8:31.
In Luke 18:31-33, Jesus told the disciples that they were going up to Jerusalem so that "everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled," then explained that He was referring to prophecies about his rejection, death and resurrection. In Matthew 20:18-19, Jesus told His disciples that, at Jerusalem, the Son of Man would be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the Law, they would kill him, and he would rise the third day. Compare, Mark 10:33-34, Luke 9:22. In Matthew 26:2 and 24, Jesus told His disciples that in a few days He, the Son of Man, would be delivered up to be crucified, "as it is written of him." Then, in verse 25, he pronounces woe on him by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. Compare, Luke 22:22. He repeated His prediction that He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners before the multitude in Luke 9:44. Similarly, in Mark 14:21, Jesus said that He, the Son of Man, would go just as it was written, "but woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!" Compare, Luke 22:48. A few verses later, when the soldiers arrived, Jesus said "look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." Mark 14:41; Matthew 26:45. "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" Luke 22:48. In John 12:23-24, Jesus said that the hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified, and then explained that He was to be glorified through death -- falling to the ground like a seed and dying -- in order that He might through His death produce many seeds. Similarly, immediately after releasing Judas to betray Him, Jesus once again said in reference to His death "now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." John 13:31. In Luke 24:7, the angel at the empty tomb reminded the disciples of Jesus' prediction that the Son of man would be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and be raised again on the third day.
Jesus offered His own suffering, as the Son of Man, as an example for us:
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:26-28; compare Mark 10:43-45.
Furthermore, Jesus more than once associated the forgiveness of sins with a reference to Himself as the "Son of Man." Thus, when confronted with a paralytic in Matthew 9:2, Jesus first met his greatest need by telling him, that his sins were forgiven. However, when some lawyers in the crowd accused him of blaspheming by claiming to forgive sins, Jesus asked them "Which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk.' But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...' Then he said to the paralytic, 'Get up, take up your mat and go home.'" Matthew 9:5-6; Mark 2:10-11; Luke 5:23-24.
Men reject the message that Jesus was both God and entirely human. In John 12:34, the crowd, noted that Jesus had said that the Son of Man must be lifted up, but asked "Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus had not used the words "Son of Man" in the immediate context of this question. Indeed, just before the people asked this question, Jesus had asked the Father to glorify His name, and God had answered with a voice from heaven which the people could hear. John 12:27-29. Jesus had then stated that the voice had been given for the sake of the people standing by, that judgment had come on the world and the prince of the world had been cast out, and that "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." John 12:30-32. He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die. John 12:33. Thus, Jesus had just said that He would be lifted up, and the people's question shows that they were simply unwilling to accept Jesus' obvious reference to Himself. Jesus answered this question indirectly, telling them that they would have the light -- once again a reference to Himself -- with them only a little while longer. They should walk in the light, and so become children of the light, before darkness overtook them and they could no longer see where they were going. John 12:35-36.
Jesus also quite strikingly associated His own humanity with His deity, His sacrifice and the offer of forgiveness to humanity in John 3:13-16:
And no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Likewise, on the morning after he fed the five thousand, Jesus advised the crowd not to work for food that spoils, but instead to work for "for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you." John 6:27. Later in the same discourse, Jesus identifies Himself as the bread of life, which we may eat and never again hunger, and His body as the true bread. John 6:35, 50-52. He then declared, "Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." John 6:53. Only those who become one with Jesus, the Son of Man, taking part in His body and receiving His life blood, have life. John 6:53-58. In stating this, Jesus emphasized His humanity, because it is in His humanity that He is like us. It is also in His humanity that we can be like Him, if He lives in us. Jesus again spoke of lifting up the "Son of Man" in John 8:28, this time with a double meaning: "when ye shall have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."
Men still reject such references to Jesus, when made by His followers today. In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus said,
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.
Luke 6:22. It is not preaching that Jesus is God that brings persecution, but preaching that Jesus is also a man. If Jesus was only God, and not like us, of course God can do whatever He wants, but it need not affect our behavior. He may live righteously, but we may still excuse our sin because we cannot do likewise. As will be seen below, it is because Jesus was fully human that we have access to His Spirit, the ability to live as He lived and the hope of being in His image. This is the message the world cannot tolerate, because it reproves their sin.
Jesus also called Himself the Son of Man in contexts in which other people called Him the Son of God. Thus, in Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His disciples "who do people say the Son of Man is?" Ultimately, after Jesus asked who the disciples said He was, Peter correctly answered that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But Jesus started this exchange with a reference to His humanity. Similarly, at Jesus' trial, when the high priest asked Him whether He was "the Christ, the Son of the Blessed," His response was "I am, and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:61-62; compare Luke 22:69, Matthew 22:64. In this passage, He simultaneously asserted His deity ("I am") and His humanity ("the Son of Man"), and associated His return in glory with his humanity.
At the present time and into eternity, Jesus remains the Son of Man. As he was being stoned, Stephen exclaimed, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God!" Acts 7:56. When the risen Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, appeared to John in his vision in Revelation 1:13, though his appearance was very glorious, it was still "like (homoios) the son of man." Even in His great present glory, Jesus is still recognizably human. And, again, when He comes in the cloud to harvest the earth, Jesus remains recognizably human, like (homoios) the son of man. Revelation 14:14.
Finally, Jesus quite frequently referred to Himself as "Son of Man" in contexts dealing with His return and with the judgment of men. Thus, in Matthew 10:23, Jesus predicted that in the end time His followers, fleeing persecution from city to city, will not have gone through all of the cities of Israel "until the Son of Man be come." Jesus also describes this time in Matthew 16:27-28, making two references to himself as the "Son of Man." First, in verse 27, he declared that he will come in his glory with his angels and will reward every person according to what he has done. Then, in verse 28, in an apparent reference to the present aspect of his kingdom through His Body, the Church, he declared that some present to hear him would not taste death until they saw the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. Similarly, in Matthew 19:28, Jesus states that, in the time of the restoration of all things, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, and the Twelve who followed him will also sit on twelve thrones. The discourse in Matthew 24:26-44 regarding the coming time of judgment makes five separate references to that time as the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:27, 30, 37, 44.
Indeed, Matthew 24:30 contains two references to the "Son of Man." First, the nations will mourn when they see the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the sky. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. Compare, Mark 13:26. A similar passage in Luke 17:22-37 contains four separate references to Jesus as the "Son of Man," coming in judgment. Luke 17:22, 24, 26, 30. Both passages emphasize that Jesus will come suddenly, at a time when He is not expected, will come very openly and obviously, lighting up the whole sky, and will bring sudden and catastrophic judgment on the world. Compare also, Luke 12:40 and Luke 21:26-27. And, again, it is said that, when the "Son of Man" comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory and separate the people gathered before him, according as they have treated other people in need, the righteous to inherit an eternal kingdom and the wicked to eternal punishment. Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus also plaintively asked whether, when God comes to avenge His elect, "when the Son of Man cometh, will he find faith in the earth?" Luke 18:8. Because Jesus will come suddenly, as a snare on those who have made themselves spiritually dull, we are enjoined to watch and pray always, that we may be able to escape those things which will happen and to "stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:36. We know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come. Matthew 25:13.
In fact, we will all be judged on the basis of how we have responded to Jesus, the Son of Man, and to His words. Thus, most pointedly, Jesus declared that "whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26. Just before this, Jesus had spoken of His death and of the need of anyone who would follow him to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow. Luke 9:21-25; Mark 8:34-37. Later, He declared even more forcefully,
>Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
Luke 12:8-10. Furthermore, Jesus explicitly stated the vital connection between His humanity, His deity, His power over life and death and His right to judge men in John 5:25-27:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and he hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
So, what is missing from the Gospel if the Christ was only God, and not truly human, as many throughout the centuries have taught? Even if the demonstration given above from Jesus' own words were not enough to be totally convincing, Acts and the Epistles show that Jesus' humanity is necessary to nearly every important aspect and promise of our salvation. This was the consistent message of the Apostles.
Thus, for example, Peter, in his sermon on Pentecost, twice identifies Jesus as "a man" -- a man who did miracles, a man his hearers handed over to be killed, whom God raised from the dead. Acts 2:22-23. His resurrection is then tied to the remission of sins and the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:32-33, 38. In the next chapter, during the interrupted sermon at the Beautiful Gate, Peter identifies Jesus as the prophet like Moses (a man) whom God raised up according to His promise in Deuteronomy 18, and ties Jesus' death, resurrection, and role as a prophet and servant, to the remission of sins, the blessing of Abraham and hope that God will restore all things. Acts 3:13-15, 18-26. In his speech before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:9-12, Peter again explicitly ties both the healing of the lame man in chapter 3 and salvation in the name of Jesus to Jesus' death and resurrection. This links salvation to Jesus' humanity, because only as a man could He die. Again before the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:30-31, Peter first reproves that body for having Jesus killed by hanging Him on a tree, then declares that God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins. Once again, these concepts are made explicitly dependent on each other. If the man Jesus did not die and was not raised, we have no repentance and no forgiveness of sins. Once again, in the sermon in Cornelius' house, Peter ties the concepts together: Jesus was a man anointed by God, who went about doing good and healing, who men killed by hanging him on a tree, but who God raised. Because of this, God has appointed Him as judge of the living and the dead, and everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. Acts 10: 38-43.
Paul also, in his sermons in Acts, placed the death and resurrection of Jesus at the center of his message. This is perhaps set forth most completely in the sermon in Antioch recorded in Acts 13:16-41. After discussing the fulfillment of prophecy through the condemnation of Jesus and his death on a tree, Paul notes that they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. Acts 13:27-29. But God raised him from the dead, and he was seen by witnesses, thus fulfilling God's promise to Israel. Acts 13:30-33. God declared Jesus His Son and gave Him the blessings promised to David by raising Him from the dead. Acts 13:34-37. Because of these things, forgiveness is proclaimed through Jesus, and everyone who believes is justified. Acts 13:38-39. Thus, forgiveness, justification and the fulfillment of God's promises are all said to depend upon Jesus' death and resurrection.
Somewhat by contrast, although the focus of Paul's sermon in Athens in Acts 17 was on the "unknown God" the Athenians worshipped, in verse 31 he unambiguously states that God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by "the man" he has appointed and has given assurance of this to all by raising that man from the dead. Then, in his defense before Herod Agrippa and Festus, Paul returned to the theme of his sermon in Antioch:
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
In his letters, Paul continues to reinforce the theme that Jesus' humanity, and particularly his death and bodily resurrection, are critical to -- and, indeed, the source of -- our hope and our standing before God. Thus, in Romans 3:22-25, we learn that God's righteousness is imputed to us who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, who was delivered to death for our offenses and was raised for our justification. Furthermore, God demonstrates His love for us in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8. We are justified by His blood. Romans 5:9. When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him by the death of His Son, and we are now saved by His life. Romans 5:10. The humanity of Jesus Christ is then stated clearly and repeatedly in Romans 5:12-19, a passage which contrasts the first man Adam with the second Adam, Jesus. The passage may be summarized thus: as sin entered the world through one man, and with it, death, similarly righteousness and life came by one man, Jesus. Thus, there is a parallelism between verse 12, in which it is said that sin entered, and, by sin, death, through one man (enos anthropos) and verse 15, which states,
For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man (enos anthropos), Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Romans 5:15. Thus, it is also said that where by the one offense death reigned through the one -- "one man" being implied by the context -- even so abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness will reign in life by the one -- "one man" being implied again -- Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17. Verses 18 and 19 again emphasize, twice, that, as condemnation came by the offense of one, making many sinners, justification also came through the obedience of one, making many righteous. The obedience of Jesus was able to overcome the consequences of Adam's disobedience because Jesus was, like Adam, a man.
In Romans 6:1-14, Paul extends the principle of chapter 5 -- that we have been justified and given God's righteousness because of the righteous obedience of the one man, Jesus -- into its practical application. That application is this: because Jesus died for us, we who believe died with Him. He died for our sins, and we died with Him to our sins, in order that they would no longer have power over us. Thus, when He was raised, we were raised with Him to live a new life. Because we died and were raised with Him, we are able to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, and yield our bodies -- which are like the human body in which Jesus was crucified -- to God instead of to sin, just as Jesus did. The fact that Jesus was human, like us, and submitted to death in our place, destroys our excuse for not yielding ourselves to God. Because He died and was raised, we are able.
How we are to do this is further explained at the beginning of chapter 8. It is reiterated that God sent His own Son "in the likeness of sinful flesh" in order to condemn sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3. Because God did this, there is now no condemnation to those who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1) -- just as Jesus did. Instead, God's righteous requirements are fulfilled in us. The flesh and the Spirit are at war, so we must give our attention to the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh. Romans 8:4-10. But we are assured that "if the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you," he will also give life to our mortal bodies because of His Spirit that lives in us, Romans 8:11, giving us the ability to put to death the works of the body and live according to the Spirit. Romans 8:12-14. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God." Romans 8:14. The Spirit we were given is a Spirit of adoption, a Spirit that tells us we are God's children and heirs. Romans 8:15-17. But we are only able to receive and live by this Spirit because, as stated earlier in the chapter, Jesus came in the flesh, thus condemning sin in the flesh, and was raised from the dead. We can have victory over sin, have life in the Spirit and adoption as sons, because Jesus was a man.
The importance of the humanity of Jesus is also repeatedly and consistently presented throughout Paul's letters to the Corinthians. The core message of the Gospel we preach is Christ crucified, a message the world finds to be foolish and offensive. I Corinthians 1:18, 23. Our preaching does not focus on the superhuman wisdom or power of Christ, messages the world in its own wisdom would understand. I Corinthians 1:22. Instead, we preach the vulnerability of Christ, who became a human like us and died on a cross for us. This message is to us the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18. Because God raised Jesus' physical body from the dead, he will raise our bodies also. I Corinthians 6:14. The hope of the resurrection rests entirely on Jesus' physical resurrection, in a human body. If Christ has been raised, there is a resurrection, and it includes us; if Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile, and so is our hope. I Corinthians 15:12-17. If there is no resurrection, we are still in our sins, and are to be pitied above all men. I Corinthians 15:14, 18.
But Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits from among the dead. I Corinthians 15:20. The firstfruits from the dead is a man, like the rest who follow Him in the resurrection, just as the firstfruits of a crop offered to God is a part of the crop. Leviticus 23:10. This is stated as clearly as it can possibly be stated in I Corinthians 15:21-23:
For since by man (anthropos) came death, by man (anthropos) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming.
Jesus is the second Adam, both a man and a life-giving spirit. I Corinthians 15:45. It is for this reason that we, who were born naturally into the corrupted image of the first Adam, can now live in the same Spirit as the second Adam and have the hope of bearing His image. I Corinthians 15:46-49. Because Jesus, the man, rose from the dead, death has been swallowed up in victory, and the power of sin has been broken. I Corinthians 15:50-57.
This obviously has huge implications for the way we live, and Paul develops these implications in his letters to the Corinthians. Because we have been raised with Christ, our bodies are members of Christ Himself. I Corinthians 6:14-15. They should be kept pure, not joined to prostitutes. I Corinthians 6:15-16. Indeed, because we have been raised with Christ, we are one with Him in spirit and each of our bodies is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:17, 19. It is God's design that we should be free in His Spirit, and that we should reflect His glory, being transformed into His likeness in the world. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and 4:10. We were bought with a price -- Jesus' body -- therefore, we should honor God with our bodies. I Corinthians 6:20. Or, as the same concept is stated in Second Corinthians:
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all were dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
Furthermore, because Jesus died for us, in His physical body, we participate together in His body and blood. I Corinthians 10:14-16. Because He gave his life blood, we participate together in His blood, partake of the new covenant in His blood, and have His life (the life is in the blood) and His Spirit. I Corinthians 11:25; compare, John 6:53-63, Deuteronomy 12:23. Because He gave His physical body for us, we participate together in His Body, and are one with Him and with each other. I Corinthians 10:17. We proclaim this symbolically to the world every time we take the Lord's Supper together. I Corinthians 11:23-26. This is precisely why it is such a serious matter to take the Lord's Supper "unworthily," that is "not discerning the Lord's body." I Corinthians 11:27, 29. When we publicly proclaim our faith in Jesus' death, but do not recognize that by it we were made members of His Body, we show the world that His death was ineffective, and open ourselves to judgment. Because of this, as Paul said, many of us are sick and some have died. I Corinthians 11:30.
On the other hand, if we truly discern that we are part of the Lord's Body, we will live like it. Specifically, in the context of I Corinthians 10 and 11, we will put aside idolatry (10:18-22) and anything that makes others stumble, seeking the good of others ahead of our own interests (10:23-33). We will also put aside contentions and divisions (11:11, 16-19), wait for each other and receive the Lord's Supper in an orderly way. (11:20-22, 33-34). Moreover, as members of the Lord's Body, we should be open to the manifestations of His Holy Spirit, which are given for the common good. I Corinthians 12:4-7. The subject of what are generally called the "spiritual gifts" will be discussed at length in a later chapter. However, at the present juncture, it should be sufficient to point out that chapters 12 through 14 of I Corinthians were not written in a vacuum. Instead, they immediately follow the discussion of the Lord's Supper and our need to discern the Lord's Body in I Corinthians 11, discussed immediately above. Viewed in this context, they cannot be read, as they too often are, as instructions to manifest spiritual abilities for our own profit or in order to exalt our own "ministry." Neither were these chapters placed in the Scriptures primarily to provide fixed lists of all of the ways in which the Spirit may function through us, so we may categorize and label ourselves and each other. Rather, these chapters plainly instruct us that we are each to allow the Holy Spirit to use us freely as individual members of Jesus' Body. We do not function independently; rather, though we have different functions, we are all part of one Body and cannot live apart from that Body. This is the whole point of the analogy to body parts in chapter 12. The eye needs the hand, the hand needs the eye, and neither part can live if severed from the body. Chapter 14 then provides instructions for the harmonious manifestation of some of the flashier gifts in local church assemblies. The principle that ties all of these things together is explained in chapter 13 -- it is self-sacrificing love.
In Galatians, the death and resurrection of Jesus are presented as a key to the liberation of a church that had put itself under bondage to the Law. The problem, Paul points out, was not with the message preached to the Galatians -- Christ had been clearly portrayed among them as crucified. Galatians 3:1. Nevertheless, they had been led astray into seeking God by their own efforts, by the observance of the Law. Galatians 3:1-5. They had ceased to realize that they had been crucified with Christ and had died to the Law. Galatians 2:19-20. Instead, as Paul declares, the truth is that "I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us, by being hanged on a tree, so that we might receive the blessings of Abraham and the promise of the Spirit, by whom we now live. Galatians 3:13-14. Christ is the "seed" of Abraham, about whom all of the promises were made, through whom we become sons of God by faith, , one with each other in Him, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:15-19, 26-29. God established the Law, not so that we could live by it, but to hold us in bondage, show us our transgressions and lead us to Christ. Galatians 3:19, 23-25. But now God has sent His Son as a man, born of a woman under the Law, like us, to redeem us from the law and give us full rights as sons. Galatians 4:4-5. Because we are His sons, God has put his Spirit in our hearts, assuring us he is our father and that we are no longer slaves but sons and heirs. Galatians 4:6-7. Therefore, we are to walk in the Spirit and let it produce its fruit, having crucified the sinful nature and its passions, just as Jesus did. Galatians 5:18, 22-25.
In Ephesians, the blood and cross of Christ are presented as the source of our redemption, access to the Father and unity with one another. In Ephesians 1:7, we are told that Jesus' blood is the source of our redemption, the remission of our sins. Later, Paul declares that those of us who were formerly Gentiles, separated from God and strangers from the covenants of promise, were brought near to God by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13. Jesus Christ is Himself our peace, having broken down in his flesh the wall of hostility between us, which came from the Law, reconciled both Jew and Gentile into one new man, and reconciled us into one Body (His Body) on the cross, where the hostility between us was slain. Ephesians 2:14-16. Jesus' good news was peace to both groups, because by Him we all have access by one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:17-18. In Ephesians 5:1-2, we are told to imitate God and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. Men are also instructed to love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it, to present it to Himself holy, blameless and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27.
The letter to the Phillipians brings out Jesus' attitude in becoming a man and the hope we find in imitating it:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross.
Philippians 2:5-8. Therefore, Paul was able to say that, for Christ he had suffered the loss of all things, and counted them rubbish, that He might gain Christ and be found in Him, having His righteousness. Philippians 3:8-9. Indeed, it was Paul's desire that he might know Christ "and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if by any means I may arrive at the resurrection of the dead." Philippians 3:10-11. The hope of the resurrection is here explicitly joined to suffering loss and sharing in Christ's suffering and death. Indeed, those who claim to be Christians but whose true god is their belly, who set their minds on earthly things, are "enemies of the cross of Christ." Philippians 3:18-19. By contrast, we are looking to heaven, waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies (literally, "the bodies of our humiliation") to be like His glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21. That is, just as Jesus humbled himself to take a body like ours and to suffer and die on the cross in it, even so we who are now looking for Him, humbling ourselves and sharing in His sufferings, will ultimately receive a body like the glorious body into which He was raised.
In Colossians, the blood and cross of Christ are presented as the source of reconciliation, freedom and victory. Jesus is the firstborn from among the dead, that he might have first place in everything. Colossians 1:18. He reconciled all things, in heaven and on earth, to Himself "by the blood of His cross." Colossians 1:20. Moreover, though we were once alienated from Him and enemies in our own minds because of our wicked works, He "reconciled us in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." Colossians 1:21-22. It would be difficult to state any more clearly the proposition that we are reconciled to God because Jesus came, and died, in a human body like ours. We were reconciled to be made perfect, and that hope also stems from Jesus' humanity. Indeed, a later passage in Colossians declares simultaneously Jesus' deity and humanity, and the origin of our hope and victory in what Jesus' accomplished in His human body. See, Colossians 2:9-15. In Christ dells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:9. We are made complete in Him by virtue of His authority; yet we are circumcised in Him, putting off the sins of the flesh, by being buried with Him in baptism. Colossians 2:10-12. The handwriting of offenses which stood against us He blotted out and took out of our way by nailing it to His cross. Colossians 2:14. We are then raised with Him through faith in God's work in His resurrection. Colossians 2:12-13. Jesus gave us victory over the principalities and powers, stripping them and making a public spectacle of them on His cross. Colossians 2:15.
But the importance of Jesus' humanity to our lives is most clearly shown in Hebrews. Jesus was made human, was made complete through suffering as a man, and now calls us His brothers. Hebrews 2:9-13, 5:8-9. He was tempted just as we are, yet without sin, and he suffered just as we do while being tempted. He is, therefore, able to understand our temptations and help us when we are tempted. Hebrews 2:18, 4:15-16. He shared in our humanity and died so that, by His death, He could destroy the one who held the power of death -- the devil -- and deliver us from the bondage of the fear of death. Hebrews 2:9, 14-15. He became like us in every way so that He could serve as a merciful and faithful High Priest, who both makes atonement for our sins and serves as our mediator with God. Hebrews 2:17, 4:14-5:2, 5:7-10, 7:26-28. As Paul wrote in another place, there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. I Timothy 2:15. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant, and His death put that covenant into effect. Hebrews 9:15-18; compare, I Timothy 2:5. He purified the heavenly sanctuary and entered the presence of the Father as our High Priest forever with his blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:11-12, 22-26. As our High Priest, Jesus intercedes for us with His Father. Hebrews 7:25. Just as Christ, through the eternal Spirit (the same Spirit we have), offered Himself unblemished to God, so His blood cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14. Jesus did away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself, taking away the sins of many people, and, when He appears again, it will be to bring salvation to those who await Him. Hebrews 9:26-28. We have been made holy, perfect and complete through the sacrifice of Jesus' body, the one sacrifice for sins that will ever be needed for all time, who now waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. Hebrews 10:10-14. Because Jesus lived, suffered and died as a man like us by the power of the Spirit, took our sins, and now appears before the Father for us, we are able to live in this world as He did by the power of the Spirit.
Peter and John, in their epistles, assign similar significance to Jesus' human life, death and resurrection. It was by the precious blood of Christ that we were delivered from the empty way of life handed down to us from our fathers, and our faith and hope are in God because God raised Christ from the dead and glorified Him. I Peter 1:18, 21. Because Jesus Christ was the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice for our sins, he is able to appear before God as our advocate when we sin. I John 2:1-2. Moreover, the man Jesus is both our example and the reason we are able to follow that example:
For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously; who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
I Peter 2:21-24. Because Christ suffered in the flesh, we are to arm ourselves with the same mind He exhibited, be done with sin, and live the rest of our lives to the will of God. I Peter 4:1-2. We are to follow Jesus example of love, laying down our lives for the brethren because He laid down His life for us. I John 3:16.
Finally, as John attests, Jesus' humanity in the true image of God, and our victory as a result of that humanity, is paradoxically the ultimate testimony to the world of Jesus' deity:
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
I John 5:4-8.
Jesus is both God and fully human. Because Jesus is fully human, and lived His life on earth subject to the same pressures and temptations we face, He can sympathize with us in our trials, strengthen us, and make it possible for us to live as He did. We, therefore, have no excuse for our sins. Men tend to deny either the deity or the full humanity of Jesus, because affirming both at the same time leaves them no excuse for the sin in their lives. But both are necessary. It is only because Jesus was a man like us that His death could atone for our sins. And it is only because he was a man that His resurrection gives us the hope of the resurrection. Jesus is able to bring us salvation, redemption, reconciliation with His Father and adoption as sons only because He was a man who lived without sin and died for us. He now appears before His Father for us, as our advocate, because He is like us. If Jesus was not a man, we who believe in Him have nothing, and our faith is futile.
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© 2004 by Ian B. Johnson
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