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Saturday, October 19, 2013

THE HUMANITY OF JESUS: By Wendell Ingram

 
One of the most difficult concepts to understand concerning Jesus is that he was both God and man. Those who interacted with Jesus while he was upon the earth seemed to readily accept his humanity but even those who believed in him had a difficult time grasping the concept of his deity. Most who believe in Jesus today readily accept and understand the deity of Jesus, but it seems we have more difficulty grasping the concept of his humanity. It is so important that we understand the humanity of Jesus as well as his deity because a good understanding of his humanity is imperative to understanding the example he was for us as he lived on this earth.

John 1:1-14 reveals that, in the beginning, Jesus was with God, he was God, he was Creator of all things and was made flesh and dwelt among men. Jesus was God before his miraculous conception, and there is no indication that he ceased to be God when he became man. Yes, Jesus was God before he was made flesh, he was God while he lived in the flesh and he is God since living in the flesh. The biblical evidence of the deity of Jesus is overwhelming and most believers today readily accept this concept. For many, the difficulty arises when we try to understand how Jesus could be God and man at the same time. I must admit that I struggle with this concept myself, but I would like to examine a few passages of Scripture that will hopefully shed some light on this subject.
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In Hebrews 2:14-18 two statements are made that give us insight into the humanity of Jesus. We are told in verse 14, Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanityand in verse 17, For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way. These two statements indicate that Jesus was human in every way just as we are. Yet, we know that he never ceased to be deity and herein lies the problem of understanding the humanity and deity of Jesus. How could Jesus share in our humanity and be like us in every way if he continued to possess divine knowledge, wisdom and power?

Paul makes a statement in Philippians 2:6-7 that may give an answer to this question. We read, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing (emptied himself asv), taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. The context of this passage is teaching humility and indicating that we should have the same attitude as Jesus, who, in his humility, did not grasp or hold on to his equality with God but emptied himself and took on the nature of humanity. The question that needs to be considered is; "Of what did Jesus empty himself?"

My understanding of this statement is that prior to being made flesh, Jesus, as God, emptied himself of all the divine characteristics of deity. At his conception he took on all the characteristics of humanity thus being made like us in every way becoming Jesus the man. From the time of his miraculous conception, Jesus developed naturally in the womb just like all other babies. He was given natural birth just like all other babies. He grew and developed physically as an infant, a toddler, a young child and a teenager just as we have all grown and developed. He was educated through instruction, discipline, training and experiences as we have all been educated. We are told in Luke 2:52, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Jesus was not born with divine knowledge and understanding. He had emptied himself of these divine characteristics and had become like us in every way. Just as Jesus grew as we grow physically, he grew as we grow mentally, spiritually and socially as well.

Yes, Jesus was, is, and has always been God. But when Jesus came to this earth he emptied himself of his powers of deity and lived his life as a man, growing, learning, living, facing temptation and facing death just as we all do. When we grasp the concept of Christ’s humanity we can have the assurance that he understands our trials and temptations because he faced those same kinds of trials and temptations as he lived on this earth in the flesh.
-Wendell Ingram