Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Humanity of Jesus

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

More than 80 times in Scripture Jesus refers to Himself as “the Son of man,” effectively emphasizing the fact that he was born of a human mother. And while most people realize that Jesus was a man, I wonder how many understand that Jesus was truly human; that He was just as human as you and I are.

The importance of understanding Jesus’ humanity cannot be overestimated. It is fundamental to the purpose for which God has called us. Why? Because we have been called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin… (1 Peter 2:21-22).

The fact that Jesus did not sin is well known. But most people assume that He was superhuman. Most people believe that Jesus came into this world simply in the FORM of a human being, but still possessing all the same powers he had always possessed. As the Word, Jesus possessed perfect character. People therefore attribute His accomplishment to Him being MORE than human.

But what if Jesus was not superhuman? What if he was a human being just like you and me? If this is true, the implications for us are enormous! It would mean that we can – and must – do what Jesus did. If Jesus developed, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the nature of God – the perfect, righteous character of God – then so can we.

But WAS Jesus born with perfect character? What does Scripture say?

And The Child Grew

Most people just assume that Jesus was born with perfect character already in place. But was He? Consider, if you will, another possibility. Consider the possibility that Jesus’ mind, as it formed in his mother’s womb, began as a blank slate – neutral -- just as with every other human being.

Part of being human is the development of the mind. The scriptures say that Jesus was NOT born with a fully developed mind. Notice the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings (Isaiah 7:14-16).

There was a time when Jesus didn’t yet know to refuse the evil and choose the good. His mind wasn’t yet fully developed. Jesus, like any other child, grew and developed both physically and mentally. And like any other child, he had to make choices between good and evil.

But unlike other children, Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, 20). From the very beginning of His human life, He must have possessed both the human spirit and the Holy Spirit. But His character was not complete. He had to make choices. We read in the book of Luke that He waxed strong in the Spirit and increased in wisdom.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him… And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:40, 52).

If Jesus already possessed perfect character, how did He grow in wisdom? And how did He wax strong in the Spirit? Or increase in favor with God?

The logical answer is that Jesus was not born with perfect character. He developed the mind of God by making right choices as he was led by the Spirit.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9).

Jesus LEARNED obedience. He was MADE perfect.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (1 Timothy 3:16).

Jesus was JUSTIFIED in the Spirit. Justified is another way of saying made righteous. Jesus was not born righteous; He was made righteous. He BECAME righteous by following the lead of the Holy Spirit, thus developing the nature of God.

I Am The Way

Jesus did not overcome by having some kind of super-human willpower. He said, “I can of my own self do nothing” (John 5:30). He relied completely upon His Father, who lived in Him in Spirit.

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works (John 14.10).

Even as Jesus lived by the Father dwelling in Him, we are to live by Jesus Christ dwelling in us. In John chapter 6, Jesus revealed that the manna eaten by the Israelites was a type of Him. And even as the Israelites ate that physical bread, and lived by that bread that was then in them, we are to live by Jesus in us.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever (John 6:57-58).

Part of Jesus’ mission here on earth was to show us that it is possible for us to overcome sin, and to show us the way to overcome sin. He said, “I am the way” (John 14:6). The way that He lived as a human being is the way for you and I to overcome sin. Jesus was a human being, just as you and I are human, and yet he overcame sin.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

The true Christian will arm himself with the mind of Christ. He will humble himself under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6) and patiently accept the trials and sufferings of this fleshly existence, knowing that God is working in him to cleanse him of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). He will seek to live, as Jesus did, a life without sin, by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in Him.

Will You Believe?

I wonder how many people actually believe the Bible. Not believe what they’ve been taught that the Bible says; not believe what they think the Bible says, but actually believe what the Bible says. How many people are willing to read the Word of God with an open mind, believe it and do what it says? Not many, it seems.

For example: do you believe that a human being can live without sin? Most people will say no. But the Word of God says that this is the very purpose for which we are called.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:21-22).

Jesus lived a life without sin, and we are called to follow in His steps. We are to do precisely what He did. That is what it means to follow in another person’s steps. It means to do what that person did. We are to follow in Jesus’ steps; and he did not sin! Will you believe what the Word of God says?

Now, some will say, “Yes, but ‘all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ I can’t be perfect like Jesus was. He never sinned.” True, we have all sinned. But we are called to repent of sin, and to now live in righteousness. Peter continues in verse 24:

…that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness… (1 Peter 2:24).

We were all sinners. But we are not to continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2). Yes, Jesus came to call sinners; but He calls them to repentance! (Luke 5:32). We are to REPENT of sin. Repentance does NOT mean to be sorry for sinning, and yet keep on sinning. It means to STOP sinning! Peter confirms this in chapter 4 of the same epistle.

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Will you believe this plain and simple statement from the Word of God? The purpose of suffering trials in this life is that we might CEASE from sin! We are to arm our self with the same mind as Jesus Christ. We are to live the remainder of our life – not fulfilling the desires of the flesh – but fulfilling the will of God.

Will you believe the Word of God? God’s Word says that we can overcome EVERY temptation

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1Corinthians 10: 13).

God’s Word says that the weapons of our spiritual warfare are MIGHTY through God, enabling us to obey even as Christ obeyed.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Will you believe the word of God? Too many are content to have a form of godliness, all the while denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). What about you? Will you believe that God has the power to do what he says that He can and will do? Will you believe that God can accomplish in you what is humanly impossible? Will you follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ?

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:6).

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