Jesus Christ's Humanity

Preaching and Worship Resources about Jesus Christ's Humanity

According to the classical creeds, the second person of the Holy Trinity, at a moment in time, "became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made human" (the Nicene Creed) "He is human from the essence of his mother, born in time; completely God, completely human" (the Athanasian Creed).

In Scripture

Asleep "A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep" (Matt. 8:24).

Hungry "In the morning, when [Jesus] returned to the city, he was hungry" (Matt. 21:18).

Prayer "Going a little farther, [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed, `My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want'" (Matt. 26:39).

Blind man They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?" And the man looked up and said, "I can see people, but they look like trees, walking." Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly" (Mark 8:22-25).

No one knows "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32).

"Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor" (Luke 2:52).

"And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14)

Tired "Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon" (John 4:6).

Jesus wept "Jesus began to weep" (John 11:35).

Descendant of David "[This is] the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3).

Life for all "Just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:18-19).

Born of a woman "When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, . ." (Gal. 4:4).

Human form "[He] emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form . . ." (Phil. 2:7).

Flesh and blood "Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil . . ." (Heb. 2:14).

"He had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17).

"We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).

"By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God . . ." (1 John 4:2).

Points to Ponder

Human needs The incarnate second person of the Holy Trinity gets hungry, thirsty, weary, and sad. He prays. He weeps. He learns things as he grows. He is ignorant of the time of the Parousia. He is obedient. As Philip Yancey has remarked, Jesus prayed all night before calling the disciples, and then got Judas as one of his Father's answers to prayer, and kept him. Jesus is like the rest of us in every respect, except that he did not sin.

Of course, questions arise. Wouldn't the second person of the Holy Trinity be omniscient? And so wouldn't Jesus, the incarnate second person of the Holy Trinity, have to be omniscient? But he wasn't. So are we saying of one person that he both was and wasn't omniscient? If we were to say that, we would have not a mystery but a mess.

Theologically So, theologically speaking, we have to make a judgment about our method of proceeding. Good theological method does not draw up a list of things a person must be to be divine, a similar list of things a person has to be in order to be human, compare the lists, judge them to be inconsistent (e.g., a divine person is omniscient, a human person is non-omniscient), and then rule out the incarnation on the basis of its logical inconsistency. Instead, in classic theological method we note the Scriptural testimony that Jesus is both divine and human, and, on that basis, make adjustments in our understanding of what it is to be divine and human. So, in the present instance, we note that Jesus is divine and also non-omniscient and conclude that it is possible to be divine while also non-omniscient for a period of time. Then the relevant divine trait is "most-of-the-time omniscience" or "omniscient-except-when-incarnate." Perhaps, as Philippians 2:7 suggests, the self-emptying of the Son of God included some of his divine perquisites, such as omniscience. In any case, the incarnation of the Son of God is a glorious honoring of our humanity. It's also the one thing under the sun that is really new. Imagine that exactly one person, Jesus Christ, is simultaneously the second person of the Holy Trinity and also a particular man who learned to cut boards in his step-father's carpenter shop and may have cut some of them too short.

In Mark 8, Jesus heals a blind man, but has to do it in two stages because he didn't get the job completely done in the first stage. Where blindness is concerned, God can do anything. Where blindness is concerned, a human being can't do anything. Where blindness is concerned the incarnate Son of God can pull it off, maybe, but it's very tricky, so he asks a half-eager, half-doubtful question: "Can you see anything?"

The incarnation of the eternal Son of God gives us a union of divinity and humanity so amazing that it demands our soul, our life, our all.


Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.