Over the past few months, we have shown that our Lord Jesus Christ is God: He is eternally “of the full deity possessed.” This was not diminished by His coming into the world. Having considered what did not change when He came, consider a change that did take place: the fact that this One, Who is God, became a man.
For this article, our purpose is to show that the humanity of our Lord Jesus was genuine. He became a real human being.
Obviously, yet importantly, He is called a “man” throughout the gospels and epistles. He referred to Himself as “a Man that hath told you the truth” (John 8:40); “After me cometh a Man,” said John (John 1:30). “Come, see a Man,” declared the woman of Samaria (John 4:29). The man who was born blind spoke of “a Man that is called Jesus” (John 9:11). His enemies said, “Thou, being a Man, makest Thyself God” (John 10:33). Peter calls him “a Man approved of God” (Acts 2:22), while “the Man Christ Jesus” is Paul’s description (1Tim 2:5). In some of these references the word translated “man” means “male,” while in others it is the word meaning “person.” The distinction has no bearing on our present discussion, as both confirm that He is a real human being. Numerous other examples could be quoted.
Every human being has a spirit, a soul, and a body (1Thes 5:23). The Lord Jesus had a spirit: “And He sighed deeply in His spirit” (Mark 8:12); a soul: “Now is my soul troubled” (John 12:27); and a body: “A body hast thou prepared me” (Heb 10:5). As above, these references are only samples; there are many more.
The writer to the Hebrews says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same” (Heb 2:14). What we all share involuntarily as human beings, the Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily participated in. The writer could say, a few verses later, that He was “made like unto His brethren” (v17). This accords with the words of John: “And the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14) and of Paul, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1Tim 3:16).
In His life here on earth, the Lord Jesus experienced the stages that human beings do: birth, infancy, childhood, youth, and adulthood. It is hardly necessary to give Scripture references for these, since they are so familiar to us, but this familiarity should not make us dull to the testimony they bear to Him as a real human being. The second chapter of Luke’s gospel is the one that brings before us most vividly the fact that He “grew” (v40). At the start of chapter two, He has not yet been born. By chapter three, He is an adult, “about thirty years of age” (v23).
He passed through experiences that all human beings know, both physically and emotionally. As far as physical things are concerned, He experienced hunger. “He hungered” (Matt 21:18) and thirsted, “I thirst” (John 19:28). He ate food: “He took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:43). He knew tiredness: “Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well” (John 4:6). He slept: “He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him” (Mark 4:38). As for emotions, He knew both joy, “Jesus rejoiced in spirit” (Luke 10:21) and sorrow, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful” (Mark 14:34). The shortest verse in our English Bible is, of course, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
For those who would try to argue that these points are inconclusive, since angels took on human appearance in the Bible and were sometimes referred to as “men” (for example the “angels” of Genesis 19:1 are repeatedly called “men” through the passage), we must remember that the Scriptures considered above are not the record of brief appearances, but the witness of those who were continually in the Lord’s company. The apostles, who were used by God to record these things, were constantly in His presence for several years. If there was any doubt as to the reality of His manhood, they would have known it. And, as for the years before His public ministry, the words of the people of Nazareth (for example in Luke 4:22) are significant. They had known Him for nearly 30 years. Sadly, they failed to recognize Who He was, but they did not deny that He was a real man. Indeed, that was their problem. They took Him to be a man, and nothing more. But as for him being a real man, they had no dispute with that fact.
Thus, the One Who walked this earth was not an angelic being, or any other type of spirit being. He was not like one of the part-human creatures of mythology, nor was He part God and part man. He was fully God, and a real Man – just as much a human being as anyone reading these words. One line of a beloved hymn encapsulates this great truth: “Verily God, yet become truly human.”
Throughout this article, we have referred mainly to when the Lord Jesus was on earth, and hence we have used the past tense. However, we must remember that He is still a Man, and He will ever be. So, while we say, “He was a real Man,” it is more accurate to say, “He is a real Man.”
However, although He is a real person, this does not mean that He is just like every other person. Certainly not! He is like us in that He is a human being. Let us never forget that He is very different from us in a multitude of ways. His distinctiveness from all other human beings is what we will begin to consider next month, in the will of God.