In my previous post, we looked at the divinity of Jesus and how Jesus remained fully God after the Incarnation. The other side of the Incarnation is Jesus’ humanity.
Jesus Was Truly Human
According to the Gospels, God the Son became a man through the means of the Virgin Birth (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). Jesus was truly human, meaning that He had a real human body and a real human mind. Luke 2:52 says that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Jesus grew physically and learned things as He got older just like we do.
Jesus experienced all of the highs and lows of being human. There were times when he was tired (John 4:6). There were times when he was hungry (Matt. 4:2). There were times when he marveled at others faith (Matt.8:10) and times when he sighed at those around him (Mark 8:12). Astonishingly, there were even some things his human nature didn’t know: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Jesus also had emotions and a soul. The night before the cross, Jesus said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:28).
Jesus’ Humanity and Sin
When thinking of Jesus’ humanity we immediately run into a problem. If Jesus is fully human, does this mean that Jesus was born with a sin nature? And how can Jesus be fully human if he didn’t sin? These questions are often asked because it is assumed that sinning is part of what it means to be human. It’s true that all humans sin, but it’s not true that sin is part of what makes us human. We know this because Adam and Eve were fully human before they sinned in the garden. In regard to Jesus’ relationship to sin, Scripture is clear on two things:
- Jesus experienced real temptations (Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 4:14-16).
- Jesus never sinned (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
The author of Hebrews sums up these two truths beautifully:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus experienced temptation in “every respect” that we do and yet never succumbed to it. Additionally, I believe that Jesus was like Adam in that He wasn’t born with a sin nature. The fact that Jesus didn’t have a human father could partly explain how this sin nature wasn’t passed on to Jesus during His birth. But what about Mary’s sin nature? Theologian Wayne Grudem posits the idea that the Holy Spirit had to do something supernatural to keep Mary’s sin from being transferred to Jesus. Although we don’t know all the details, we do know that Jesus wasn’t tainted by sin in any way.
The Importance of Jesus’ Humanity
Have you ever thought about why God the Son became a man? Or asked yourself why God chose this path to save the world? Scripture gives many reasons on why God became a man, here are just three:
To show us how to live.
What would God spend most of His time doing if He walked the earth? How would God respond to the loss of a friend? How would God deal with getting tired or being betrayed? These are fascinating questions that can be answered by looking at the life of Jesus. We can read about someone who obeyed God perfectly in thought, word and deed. Now, we can walk in holiness by imitating the life of Jesus:
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
To sympathize with our weakness and pain.
God is often accused by skeptics as being distant and removed from our daily lives. This charge, however, holds no weight against the Christian God. Our God is a God who enters the story with us and knows what it’s like to feel weakness and pain. Our God can say, “I’ve been there. I know what you’re going through. Come to me in times of trouble.”
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
To live a perfect life, die in our place, and give us His righteousness.
God demands perfection from us but we have no righteousness of our own to give. We are morally bankrupt creatures. But God sent His Son to live a perfect life and die as our substitute. God freely offers us the righteousness of Christ through faith. If Jesus wasn’t fully human, then the life He lived and the death He died could not have saved us.
“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
Thank God that His Son “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
So far in this series, we have talked about Jesus’ divine and human natures. But how do these two natures interact with one another? This is the question we will look at in the next post.