The Humanity of Christ

Continuing our blog series concerning the Doctrine of Christ, today’s blog post addresses the humanity of Jesus Christ. 

The Humanity of Christ

Jesus as the pre-existent Word, born of a virgin, necessitates a doctrine of humanity because Luke says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (2:52).

How does one explain this physical increase, the humanity of Jesus?

We will examine the names of Jesus, his attributes, and direct biblical assertions concerning the humanity of Christ attested in Scripture.

The Names of Jesus

The humanity of Jesus is first revealed in his names. In Matthew 26:24, Jesus himself ascribes the title Son of Man to his personhood. The Son of Man is Jesus’ most prominent self-designation, revealing his identity as the suffering servant.[1] Secondly, Jesus is identified as a Jew. The skeptical Nathanael called Jesus “Rabbi” (John 1:49), a Hebrew term meaning teacher. Both Matthew and Luke record genealogies, tracing Jesus’ lineage through his Jewish ancestry.

In addition, Jesus is recognized as the son of David in Matthew’s Genealogy and even the opponents of Jesus asserted the Christ’s heritage to include the title, “The son of David” (Matthew 22:42).

Human Attributes of Jesus

Jesus also possessed human attributes. When Christ is described as fully human, Scripture asserts he is like mankind in every regard except for his sinlessness. His life begins with a miraculous conception (Matthew 1:20), but his delivery into the world is the same natural experience every human undergoes (Luke 2:6-7). Jesus matures with physical and intellectual growth normative for any child (Luke 2:40), and Grudem rightly points out the ordinary learning process Jesus went through as a child.[2] His body was a real, tangible frame. He experienced exhaustion, hunger, and thirst (John 19:28). In addition, Jesus’ human soul is displayed when John asserts twice that the spirit of Christ was troubled. One might argue “troubling” to infer sin, but Jesus’ divine nature was free from temptation (James 1:13), and his lack of sin (Hebrews 4:15) negates this suggestion. Jesus also experienced human emotions such as grieving the death of a friend (John 11:35). Though some regard “fully human” to include the presence of and participation in sin, Grudem notes, “those making that objection simply fail to realize that human beings are now in an abnormal situation.”[3]

Direct Biblical Assertions

Direct biblical assertions of Jesus’ humanity include Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:21, “by a man also came resurrection.” Paul writes to his protégé Timothy saying there is one mediator between God and man, and it is the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5-6). It is also important to note the necessity of a human sacrifice, given as a ransom for all, and sacrificed “once for all” (Hebrews 10). In fact, to contend that Jesus was not a man is to engage in the heresy of Docetism.

 

[1] Ibid., 1881.

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994), 533.

[3] Ibid., 535.

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