The God-man: Fully Human (Tho Sinless)
The following is an enhanced transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
We’ve been talking about the greatest mystery in history; as beautiful as it is profound; as shocking as it is wonderful, as the Creator became part of his creation. The infinite God wrapped himself in finite humanity. The one-and-only, eternal God became one of us to live the perfect human life we don’t live, die a sacrificial death to pay the penalty for our sins, and rise again to lift us from our fall, restore to us a right relationship with him, and reestablish his righteous reign upon the earth.
In this lesson, we’ll explore the full humanity of Jesus. It may seem silly to talk about something so obvious. But, in addition to the fact, as we’ll see in a future lesson, only the God-man could save us from our sins, God becoming on of us in the person of Jesus Christ affirms his good intentions toward us, and his tremendous empathy for us, as he leads us into the life only he can give us.
We begin where the humanity of Jesus began, in the womb of his mother, Mary. We read in Luke 1,
26 …the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin who was betrothed [legally engaged] to a man whose name was, Joseph, of the House of David. And the virgin’s name was, Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you… 30 …do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great. And [in addition to being your son] will be called the Son of the Most High. [In other words, your human son will also, somehow, be God’s Son.] And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father, David. 33 And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “how will this be since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35, ESV; comments in brackets)
And yet, Gabriel declares, the eternal the Son of God would become an actual, fully human being, as the human son of Mary, who would have to grow and mature (Luke 2:52), become hungry (Mark 11:12) and need sleep, just like us. Once Jesus was tired enough to sleep on a boat in the midst of a storm at sea.
…the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion (Mark 4:37-38a, ESV),
reminding us Jesus was an actual human being like us, with one important exception we read about in Hebrews 4,
“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, ESV).
The last words of that verse are especially interesting. Somehow, in the mystery of the incarnation, as the Son of God entered Adam’s sinful race to save us from our sins, sin was removed from the humanity Jesus received from Mary. But, we read, Jesus was still tempted to sin, just as Adam was and we as Adam’s fallen descendent’s surely are. But, unlike Adam or us, Jesus never succumbed to temptation, so as to sin.
And b/c His sinlessness qualified Jesus, the man, to bear and cancel our sins at the cross, we who are His can now, as we see in the very next verse, “…with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy [instead of the judgment we deserve] and find grace to help [us] in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV; explanatory comments in brackets). And this help isn’t abstract or theoretical. It’s intensely personal and practical because it comes from following Jesus, the God-man, who promises to be with us who are His through His Spirit (Matthew 28:20).
Knowing he’s traveled this road victoriously before me assures me I can trust him to guide me through whatever challenges and temptations I face. This is especially true since, as we’ll see next time, after living the perfect life we don’t live and sacrificing Himself to cancel sin’s power to condemn us, Jesus rose bodily from the dead to bring us a newness of life in which sin can never again control us. More on that in the next lesson.