There are usually two basic errors that come in the doctrine of Christ: denying his fully humanity and denying his full deity. In reaction to so-called liberal Christians who denied the full deity of Christ, conservatives tend to undervalue the true humanity of Christ. We fight so hard for, and spend such time emphasizing his deity that his humanity becomes an afterthought. We read the Gospel accounts and believe he had a body. We believe he eat and drank and live among us. But there is still something other about him. I think we often harbor suspicions that under those first century robes was something like a blue shirt with red ‘S.’ in the back of our minds, Jesus was kind of faking his humanity.
Yet, over and over again, the New Testament writers press home the reality that Jesus was just like you or me, except in this: he was without sin. Jesus was was just as human as we are from his DNA which determined things like skin tone, eye color, and height to his limitations in energy, skill, and immune system. In others words, the Bible is clear that Jesus grew like us, ate like us, got sick like us, and needed to learn like us. And even while we affirm such beliefs, we might ask question like: Why is this so important? Why does the Bible emphasize this so much? Why have men and women died for truth? What difference does it make to your day-to-day life? There are many reasons and implications, but here’s two to consider. Specifically, here are two reasons which should encourage you and spur you on in your pursuit of godliness.
Christ Is an Example to Follow
When the Bible exhorts us to preserve in suffering, spend time with sinners, memorize Scripture, give up food to fast and pray, be humble with others—in other words, do things that do not naturally want to do—we might balk a little when Jesus is presented as an example of these things. But we shouldn’t because he’s a real human with human weakness and limitations. In his humanity, he didn’t do anything that we ourselves cannot do as well.
Just last week as the elders and I met for our monthly meeting, our devotional was from Hebrews 9. There we saw that it was by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was able to live a life of perfect righteousness to offer himself without blemish to God (Heb 9:13-14). And it’s that same Spirit that he pours out on us when we trust him to save us. We have access to the same Spirit that empowered him that we might follow his example (Gal 5:15-26).
Christ Is a Savior to Trust
Hebrews is also helpful in connected Jesus’ humanity to our confidence in him as our Savior. First, we are told that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22). But there’s a problem: “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin” (Heb 10:4). No animal sacrifice can atone for our sins. Thus, it is precisely in the humanity of Christ that we find real blood that is worthy of being poured out to take away our sin. No matter how divine, without his humanity, there is no blood. More than that, without his humanity, there is no body. Why does he need a body? He needed a body to experience death for us. Hebrews says that he took on flesh so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all” of us who trust him (Heb 2:14-15).
Finally, because he is human, and therefore like us “in every respect” (Heb 2:14), he also experienced temptation just like us. Now, he is able to not only “sympathize with our weaknesses” but can also “help those who are being tempted” (Heb 4:15; 2:18). Jesus understands the pressures we are under. He understands what it’s like to have our Enemy come at us in subtlety and in fury and, tempting us to rebel against our God and Father. Thus, we can call out to him as one who understands, praying for the grace we need to stand. And should we fall, we have one who died to secure our forgiveness with God (1 John 2:1-2).
Christ Our Encouragement and Hope
This is why the humanity of Christ is so important. Because he is a real man who experienced full humanity, in Jesus you have an Example that you can really follow and a Savior you can fully trust. His life is a real pattern after which we should live. His blood really atones for sin. His death and resurrection defeats the power of the sin and the devil in death. His glorious life as a resurrected and living Savior encourages us to find in him one who sympathizes with us in every way. His intercession at the Father’s hand ensures we will always have the grace we need to overcome sin. Therefore, let us not forget nor ever be embarrassed by the full humanity of Christ. Instead, let us hold fast to this doctrine and allow it to encourage our hearts as we live by faith to the glory of God.