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Why Jesus had to be a human

The world of Greek philosophy thought of humanity as by nature imperfect and corrupt -- only the invisible, spiritual world of thoughts and godlike forces could be perfect and transcendant.

Into that golden age vision of Greece stepped a Man, and a Jew at that (which to the "civilized" mind of the Greeks was a mark against him), who claimed to be mankind's window upon the face of God. "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." As the Apostle put it, Jesus of Nazareth was "God manifest in the flesh." (1 Timothy 3:16)

This was foolishness to the Greek world, just as Jesus' questionable birth and death at the hands of the Romans was a major national scandal. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

The Greeks wanted wisdom; the Jews wanted a sign; but what both got was a Man, who walked, talked, ate, drank, slept, wept, bled, and died just as other man do -- except of course he did all of these things like no other man before or since has done.

And so the scriptures are emphatic and very repetitive on this point. Jesus of Nazareth was a man -- a holy, harmless, and righteous (Hebrews 7:26) -- but a Man nevertheless.

The Apostle John goes further than simply repeating that Jesus was a man. He states that the teaching that Christ came "in the flesh" is an essential teaching; (1 John 4:3) that any concept which denies that Jesus was a man is "of the Antichrist". Elsewhere, John also states it as essential that we acknowledge him as the Son of God, as well. But in this section we are focusing on Jesus the Man, the mediator between God and man.

Why is this so important? Why is it essential to our faith that Jesus is acknowledged to be human?

  1. Jesus had to be a man to be a substitute for father Adam who had sinned. Because of Adam's sin, all humans are born dying. Jesus becomes the substitute for Adam, therefore "purchasing" the race and bringing a "free gift" to "all" -- "justification to life." (Romans 5:18) This is the concept Paul calls a Ransom for All. (1 Timothy 2:5,6)
  2. Jesus had to be a man, born into the human family, so that he could be the child-heir of specific family-related promises. By virtue of his sharing of Mary's bloodline, for example, Jesus had King David's blood in his veins, through David's son Nathan. This gave him the rightful place on the throne of David.
  3. Jesus had to be a man "for the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9) , so that "he by the grace of God tasted death for every man." It was the ability to suffer and spill his blood that gave Jesus the ability to be man's redeemer.
  4. Jesus had to be a man so that he could be "touched by a feeling of our infirmities -- yet without sin." The Bible presents Jesus as a "sympathetic high priest" -- someone who knows what pain, loneliness, hunger, and sleeplessness are. Because he has suffered these things firsthand, he is "able to help" other human beings who are struggling to obey God.
  5. Jesus had to be a man so that he could be the "son of Man" -- the fulfillment of the promises made to a specific human son of God who would fulfill promises in Daniel, Isaiah, Deuteronomy, and elsewhere.
  6. Jesus had to be a man so that he could be the "elder brother" to the Church. Jesus sets the example, showing us how to be a son of God on earth. Though he was perfect and sinless, he is "not ashamed to call us brethren."
  7. Jesus had to be a man so that he could establish the pattern of new birth. Jesus was the first human being to experience the spiritual growth process described in scripture as being "born again" or "transformed by the renewing of our minds." Jesus is the great example of what it means to be a Christian. We follow in his footsteps, as we learn from him how to take up the cross provided by the Heavenly Father. We follow his footsteps as we pray, fast, preach, show sympathy, use appropriate authority, and all the other opportunities which come our way as spirit-filled "New Creatures" in Christ Jesus.

By saying that Jesus was a man, we acknowledge that human nature is indeed "very good" as God put it after creating the first man. Perfect humanity is possible. Jesus proved that. And though the world of mankind is still corrupt and dying, Jesus showed us a foretaste of how grand it will be when all the world is filled with human beings who, like Jesus, were "crowned with glory and honor." Though humans are a "little lower than the angels", humanity is a wonderful creation indeed, and it is thrilling to catch the vision of a world full of righteous, glorious, healthy, happy people, as Isaiah described it in Isaiah 35.

And as Isaiah 14:7 puts it, the whole world will be "at rest, and quiet." People will spontaneously "break forth into singing".