In the bulletin articles I’m now going to start looking at Jesus’ humanity. Sometimes people put such a focus on Jesus’ divine nature that they start to minimise his human nature. Some people in the early church actually claimed that Jesus only appeared to be a man (this heresy is known as Docetism). John the apostle seeks to counteract such views in his letter of 1 John: This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (1 John 4:2-3).
But why was it necessary that Jesus come as a man? Several reasons are given in the Bible and I’ll deal with some of them over the next few weeks. The first reason is so that Christ could be our representative obedience to God. In Genesis we learn that God asked Adam and Eve to be obedient to him but they disobeyed. Since them, every human has decided to be disobedient to God and not obey his laws fully. Therefore in order to get back in a right relationship with God we need a human obedience to be credited to our account. This is part of what Jesus came to do. He led a life of obedience to God that is then put to our account.
The apostle Paul makes it clear that this is what happened when he parallels Jesus’ obedience with Adam’s disobedience in Romans 5:18-19: ‘Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.’
One way of looking at it is that he has not only wiped away our debt towards God by forgiving our sins at the cross (which we’ll look at next week) but by his human obedience during his life on earth Jesus put credit in the bank for us. If Jesus had not come as a man, he couldn’t have fulfilled our human obligation to be obedient to God. Therefore for Jesus to come as a man shows God’s desire to be faithful to the requirements he laid down at the beginning. Jesus’ humanity is a doctrine that needs to be defended, for without it we would not have any human obedience to offer to God.