Our Basis Of Doctrine: Part 4 - Christ’s Humanity
This is an ongoing series of blog posts in which we provide a brief overview of our church’s Basis of Doctrine as set out in the Church Constitution, by defining, explaining and proving from Scripture the various doctrines expressed. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study, so there is much that won’t stated or defended. Click here to view our Basis of Doctrine.
Part 4The perfect humanityof the Lord Jesus Christ
Perfect - Jesus was absolutely perfect; sinless, holy, loving, righteous etc.
Humanity - Jesus was 100% fully human; he felt pain, hunger, thirst etc.
Jesus has a human body, emotions, mind, and will. And this in no way compromises his deity.
When the Word became flesh—when the eternal Son of God took on full humanity—he did not merely become human in part. He fully became truly human.
Jesus’ Human Body
It is clear enough from the New Testament that Jesus has a human body. John 1:14 means at least this, and more: “The Word became flesh.” Jesus’ humanity is one of the first tests of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). Jesus was born (Luke 2:7). He grew (Luke 2:40, 52). He grew tired (John 4:6) and got thirsty (John 19:28) and hungry (Matthew 4:2). He became physically weak (Matthew 4:11; Luke 23:26). He died (Luke 23:46). And he had a real human body after his resurrection (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27).
Jesus’ Human Emotions
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus clearly displays human emotions. When Jesus heard the centurion’s words of faith, “he marveled” (Matthew 8:10). He says in Matthew 26:38 that his “soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” In John 11:33–35, Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and even weeps. John 12:27 says, “Now is my soul troubled,” and in John 13:21, he is “troubled in his spirit.” The author to the Hebrews writes that “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) John Calvin memorably summed it up: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.”
Jesus’ Human Mind
Jesus also has a human mind. Two key texts make this undeniable:
Luke 2:52: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
Mark 13:32: “Concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The second verse, of course, is striking. For Christians who clearly affirm Jesus’ deity, Mark 13:32 seems like trouble. But what looks difficult at first glance proves to be a glorious confirmation of Jesus’ humanity and a very helpful piece in formulating our Christology.
If Jesus is God and God knows everything, how can Jesus not know when his second coming will be?
In addition to being fully divine, Jesus is fully human. He has both an infinite, divine mind and a finite, human mind. He can be said not to know things because he is human and finite—human minds are not omniscient. And Jesus can be said to know all things (John 21:17) because he is divine and infinite in his knowledge.
Paradoxical as it is, we must affirm that Jesus both knows all things and doesn’t know all things. For the unique, two-natured person of Christ, this is no contradiction but a peculiar glory of the God-man.
Jesus’ Human Will
Now, trickiest of all, Jesus not only has a divine will but also a human will. Two wills—one divine and one human. Two key texts mention his human will:
John 6:38: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
Matthew 26:39: “Not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus has an infinite, divine will that he shares with his Father. And he has a finite, human will that, while being an authentic human will, is perfectly in sync with and submissive to the divine will.
This Jesus is a spectacular person! Fully God. Fully man. He is utterly unique. There is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
Fully Divine, Fully Human
Jesus is like us in every respect—human body, heart, mind, and will—except for sin (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15).
How amazing that the divine Son of God would not just take on part of our humanity but all of it—and then take that true humanity all the way to the cross for us.
Jesus took a human body to save our bodies. And he took a human mind to save our minds. Without becoming man in his emotions, he could not have saved our emotions. And without taking a human will, he could not save our will. In the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”
He became man in full so that he might save us in full. Hallelujah! What a marvelous Savior!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”
See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
[Jesus], though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
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.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
(1 John 4:2)
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
(2 John 1:7)