Online Bible College
Carelinks Home
FREE Literature
'What is the Gospel?' Home
Bible Basics In Other Languages
Online Bible Study Literature

Bible Basics (5th. ed.)

Study 1: God || Study 2: The Spirit Of God || Study 3: The Promises Of God || Study 4: God And Death || Study 5: The Kingdom Of God || Study 6: God And Evil || Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus || Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus || Study 9: The Work Of Jesus || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus || Study 11: Life In Christ   8.1 Introduction || 8.2 Differences Between God And Jesus || 8.3 The Nature Of Jesus || 8.4 The Humanity Of Jesus || 8.5 The Relationship Of God With Jesus || Doctrine In Practice 14: The Real Christ || Digression 15: How The Real Christ Was Lost || Digression 16: The Divine Side Of Jesus

8.4 The Humanity of Jesus

The Gospel records provide many examples of how completely Jesus had human nature. It is recorded that he was weary, and had to sit down to drink from a well (Jn 4:6). “Jesus wept” at the death of Lazarus (Jn. 11:35). Most supremely, the record of his final sufferings should be proof enough of his humanity: “Now is my soul troubled”, he admitted as he prayed for God to save him from having to go through with his death on the cross (Jn. 12:27). He “prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup (of suffering and death) pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:39). This indicates that at times Christ’s fleshly desires were different from those of God.

However, during his whole life Christ always submitted his own will to that of God in preparation for this final trial of the cross. “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me” (Jn. 5:30). This difference between Christ’s will and that of God is proof enough that Jesus was not God.

Throughout our lives we are expected to grow in our knowledge of God, learning from the trials which we experience in life. In this, Jesus was our great example. He did not have complete knowledge of God poured into him any more than we have. From childhood “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature (i.e. spiritual maturity, cp. Eph. 4:13), and in favour with God and man” (Lk. 2:52). “The child grew, and became strong in spirit” (Lk. 2:40). These two verses portray Christ’s physical growth as parallel to his spiritual development; the growth process occurred in him both naturally and spiritually. If “The Son is God”, as the Athanasian Creed states concerning the ‘Trinity’, this would not have been possible. Even at the end of his life, Christ admitted that he did not know the exact time of his second coming, although the Father did (Mk. 13:32). He asked questions of the teachers of the Law at age 12, eager to learn; and often He spoke of what He had learnt and been taught by His Father.

Obedience to God’s will is something which we all have to learn over a period of time. Christ also had to go through this process of learning obedience to his Father, as any son has to. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience (i.e. obedience to God) by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect (i.e. spiritually mature), he became the author of eternal salvation” as a result of his completed and total spiritual growth (Heb. 5:8,9). Phil. 2:7,8 (further commented on in Digression 27) records this same process of spiritual growth in Jesus, culminating in his death on the cross. He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form (demeanour) of a servant...he humbled himself and became obedient unto...the death of the cross.” The language used here illustrates how Jesus consciously grew spiritually, humbling himself completely, so that finally he “became obedient” to God’s desire that he should die on the cross. Thus he was “made perfect” by the way he accepted his suffering.

It is evident from this that Jesus had to make a conscious, personal effort to be righteous; in no way was he automatically made so by God, which would have resulted in him being a mere puppet. Jesus truly loved us, and gave his life on the cross from this motive. The constant emphasis upon the love of Christ for us would be hollow if God compelled him to die on the cross (Eph. 5:2,25; Rev. 1:5; Gal. 2:20). If Jesus was God, then he would have had no option but to be perfect and then die on the cross. That Jesus did have these options, enables us to appreciate his love, and to form a personal relationship with him.

It was because of Christ’s willingness to give his life voluntarily that God was so delighted with him: “Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life...No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (Jn. 10:17,18). That God was so pleased with Christ’s willing obedience is hard to understand if Jesus was God, living out a life in human form as some kind of tokenistic association with sinful man (Mt. 3:17; 12:18; 17:5). These records of the Father’s delight in the Son’s obedience, is proof enough that Christ had the possibility of disobedience, but consciously chose to be obedient.

Christ’s Need Of Salvation

Because of his human nature, Jesus was mortal as we are. In view of this, Jesus needed to be saved from death by God. Intensely recognising this, Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him (God) that was able to save him from death, and was heard for his piety” (Heb. 5:7 A.V. mg.). The fact that Christ had to plead with God to save him from death rules out any possibility of him being God in person. After Christ’s resurrection, death had “no more dominion over him” (Rom. 6:9), implying that beforehand it did.

Many of the Psalms are prophetic of Jesus; when some verses from a Psalm are quoted about Christ in the New Testament, it is reasonable to assume that many of the other verses in the Psalm are about him too. There are a number of occasions where Christ’s need for salvation by God is emphasised.

§          Ps. 91:11,12 is quoted about Jesus in Mt. 4:6. Ps. 91:16 prophesies how God would give Jesus salvation: “With long life (i.e. eternal life) will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” Ps. 69:21 refers to Christ’s crucifixion (Mt. 27:34); the whole Psalm describes Christ’s thoughts on the cross: “Save me, O God...Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it...Let your salvation, O God, set me up on high” (vs. 1,18,29).

§          Ps. 89 is a commentary upon God’s promise to David concerning Christ. Concerning Jesus, Ps. 89:26 prophesies: “He shall cry unto me (God), You art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”

§          Christ’s prayers to God for salvation were heard; he was heard because of his personal spirituality, not because of his place in a ‘trinity’ (Heb. 5:7). That God resurrected Jesus and glorified him with immortality is a major New Testament theme.

§          God...raised up Jesus...Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour” (Acts 5:30,31).

§          God...has glorified his Son Jesus...whom God has raised from the dead” (Acts 3:13,15).

§          “This Jesus has God raised up” (Acts 2:24,32,33).

§          Jesus himself recognised all this when he asked God to glorify him (Jn. 17:5 cp. 13:32; 8:54).

If Jesus was God Himself, then all this emphasis would be out of place, seeing that God cannot die. Jesus would not have needed saving if he were God. That it was God who exalted Jesus demonstrates God’s superiority over him, and the separateness of God and Jesus. In no way could Christ have been “very and eternal God (with) two...natures...Godhead and manhood”, as the first of the 39 Articles of the Church of England states. By the very meaning of the word, a being can only have one nature. We submit that the evidence is overwhelming that Christ was of our human nature.

Comments? Questions? e-mail the author:

Bible Basics Home