Jesus Is Fully Human

    We must realize that Jesus is not God in a man suit. This belief is not common these days; but it has existed in much of Church history and would be an understandable mistake for a new Christian to make. Jesus is really and truly human as well as being really and truly divine. When reading the Gospels, it is apparent that Jesus has all the characteristics of being a man. He is born, suffers, and dies. He assures the disciples of the reality of his body (Lk 24:38-43). He exists finitely in time and space. Paul speaks of Jesus as a man (Rom 5:15; 1 Cor 15:21; 1 Tim 2:5) and speaks of his human origin (Rom 1:3, 9:5; 2 Tim 2:8; Gal 3:16, 4:4). Not only does Jesus have a human body, but he has a human soul, as Jesus himself tells us (Mt 26:38; Lk 23:46). Finally, Jesus frequently refers to himself as being the Son of Man (Mt 16:27; Mk 2:28; Lk 5:24; Jn 5:27; and many others), which indicates that he sees himself as human.

    How is it possible to be both human and divine? Even though our instincts say that this must be contradictory, upon further inspection no contradiction is apparent. We see Jesus acting both as man and God throughout the Gospels. We must trust the data before we trust our own biases about the way things are "supposed" to be.

    When did his humanity begin? To be human means to be limited in time and to be born of flesh, so his humanity must have begun at the moment of conception, which makes Mary his true mother, not just a temporary residence. This is confirmed by scripture (Mt 1:16; Lk 1:31; Gal 4:4). How does his humanity begin? It begins by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is explicitly stated in scripture (Mt 1:18-21; Lk 1:34-35) and can also be further understood because the Holy Spirit is the giver of life. All three members of the Trinity are involved in the incarnation: Father, Son, and Spirit. When does his humanity end? It does not, as our humanity does not. In addition, scripture teaches that after he was resurrected, he spent some time with the disciples, and then he ascended into Heaven (Mk 16:19; Lk 24:50-51; Jn 1:51), and that he will be with us always (Mt 28:20). He ascended intact. His body and soul were not left behind or destroyed in the process. At first, ascension seems strange, but after the resurrection any other departure for Jesus would be stranger. It would be awfully silly to be resurrected and just die again a short while later. If he had lived to old age, we would certainly have a record of it. There is also evidence from scripture that Jesus's resurrected body is fundamentally different as he is not easily recognized by his followers (Lk 24:15-16). Because we know that he beat death once, it is unclear that he could have died after he was resurrected.

    The humanity of Jesus teaches us that God understands us directly, not purely intellectually. Additionally, if Jesus was God in a man suit, the suffering of Jesus would be meaningless, because Jesus must be a man to suffer. This leads us to our next topic, Jesus as redeemer.

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28