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Manhood of Jesus

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by Dr. T.P. Varghese

The importance of Jesus’ humanity cannot be over-estimated from a soteriological point of view of humanity. People like Chenchiah went to the other extreme of denying his divinity when he tried to overemphasize his humanity and pre-sented him as a mere man – the New man. When we talk about the humanity of Christ, it naturally draws us into the incarnation of Jesus Christ, where history itself is divided into B.C. and A.D. (Before Christ and Anno Domini). This makes Jesus a man of history, part of a community to experiment every move of this historical person.

The early few centuries of the Christian church was a time of struggle in which she tried to swim against the roaring waves of opposition in order to have an-existence. But it was the Chalcedon (AD 451) that settled the issue with the demarcation of the Divinity and humanity of Jesus, a matter that was in dispute among various heretical groups.

The first century did not pose many questions to the natures of Christ, especially to his humanity. People of Bethlehem saw him in the manger, people of Nazareth saw him in the streets and carpenter shop and the community witnessed him in market places and in the synagogue. Even at the age of twelve, he was in the midst of the Scribes and his enquiries into the depth of the Kingdom of God became a standing episode in his life. His ‘manhood’ was a historical manifestation that we call incarnation. This incarnation reveals two natures of Christ, i.e., his divinity and humanity. He was perfectly God while he was on this earth doing his mission, but his humanity was more vivid because of the demands and necessity of his earthly mission. For this reason, he used the title “the Son of Man” more often to describe himself. No one else ever called him by that title, but he chose that title to introduce his mission. It was not “a Son of Man” but he called himself “the Son of Man.” This was sufficient enough to reveal his eternal and temporal existence.

When we speak of his ‘manhood’ it immediately draws us to his birth which caused him to grow as a man. His conception was not common although he had a common birth. It was and is still a mystery as far as the field of gynaecology is concerned. The conception was supernatural but the growth was usual which finally resulted in an ordinary delivery. His birth is referred to as a virgin birth, a unique story in history, unrepeated. Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother, but without a human father. A human mother conceiving from a divinity makes the picture dirty if it is thought in terms of human conception (Chenchiah). Jesus’ case was not so. No sensual, sexual reality is attached to Mary from divine, yet it happened through a transformation, a mystery for the ages to come. Mary herself raised the ignorance of such a mystery and she was adequately answered and silenced by the angel (Luke.1: 34,35).

The title “the Son of Man” referred mostly to his human nature which was in personal union with his divine nature. This is seen from the Scripture. When the disciples recognized him as the Son of God, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son of Man.” Christ entered into human existence by assuming a human nature. It was a humiliation, an emptying, a stripping and a kenosis of his glory. To place him in the right context, Paul placed Jesus in the line of David and Luke in the genealogy starting with God and Adam (Rom.Ch.1 and Luke Ch.3). He was even called son of Joseph (Luke.4:22, John.1:45, 6:42, Mat.13:55) at times.

The discussion of his manhood faces difficulty when we confront the questions like “Was it possible for Christ to have sinned?” This further complexes with the question “If Jesus was not with sin, can he be a man?” Some people argue for Jesus’ inability of sin (impeccability). The Latin word ‘peccare’ means to sin. Some people object that, if he was not able to sin, then his temptations (Mt.ch.4) could not have been real, he could not be an example to humanity to face the temptations of life and overcome it?

In order to answer these questions we must look into the Scripture. Scripture affirms that Christ is sinless and he has never sinned. It also affirms that Jesus was tempted (Luke 4:2, Heb. 4:15). If he was not tempted or not able to sin, can he be a real man? The correction of a common misunderstanding becomes necessary here. For some, to be human is to do sin. Without sin, no one can be real human (Rom.3:23). But, Romans 3:23 speaks not of a real humanity, but of a distorted humanity which is the posterity of a sinful Adamic generation. Before the fall, Adam was a man, a real man. so also Eve a real woman. Jesus’ humanity is in correspondence with that of Adam or vice versa, hence Jesus is the second or last Adam. The real measuring chord of humanity is to be found in Jesus and surely not in sinful man. Human nature is not carnal nature. Jesus had the former, but not the latter.

How can the manhood of Jesus be like ours? The classical theology puts forward many proofs to substantiate it. According to Theissen;

i) Jesus had a human birth, was born of a woman (Gal.4: 4), born of the seed of David (Rom.1: 3), a direct fulfillment of the promise made to Eve (Gen.3:15).

ii) He had a human development (Luke.2: 40, 52).

iii) He had the essential elements of human nature, body (Heb.10: 5) Soul (Mat.26: 38) and Spirit (Mark.2:8). Appollinarianism is con-demned here. To all the sinless infirmities of human nature, Jesus was subjected (pp.299-303).

Though ‘the Son of Man’ expressed his federation with humanity, he was like a man in all things, save sin. He challenged his hearers to convict him of sin. Although no one could convict him, all the consequences of sin came upon him, because he became ‘the Son of Man’ (Heb.2: 14). This is why he also prayed, “Let this chalice pass from me.” As Isaiah pre-tells of him in chapter 53, his endurance of the demands of ‘manhood’ made him a strange one, loosing all beauty and strength; he looked like an old man. Nothing human was foreign to him. Though, no disease or sin touched him, he bore them as a loving brother for us and that is why we are free.

Why did Jesus become a man? Or what is the necessity or importance of his humanity? How are we blessed with his humanity? Was it a full humanity?

According to ‘Docetics’ the humanity of Jesus was not a full or real humanity. They said he appeared only as a man. (The word ‘docetism’ came from the Greek verb ‘dokeo’ means ‘ to seem’ or ‘to appear to be’). Apostle John writing of the humanity of Jesus, the denial, of it is called as ‘the doctrine of the Antichrist’ (1John. 4:2-3). The necessity of Jesus’ manhood was discussed in the writings of Grudem and he states:

i) It was for a representative obedience against the representative disobedience of Adam (Rom.5: 18, 19).

ii) It was for a substitute sacrifice. This sacrifice only could pay the penalty for our sin (Heb.2:16-18) and sympathizes as our High priest (Heb.4:15,16)

iii) As a man he could represent us between God and humanity as the mediator (1 Tim.2:5)

iv) To be our example and pattern in life (Rom.8: 29, 2 Cor.3: 18, 1John.3: 2,3).

v) To be a pattern for our redeemed bodies (1 Cor.15: 42-44).

Yes, Jesus will be a man forever. He did not give up his human nature after death and resurrection. He is not like other ‘avatars’ who came and did the job and left and no more; but he appeared with scars of the nail prints (John.20: 25-27), with flesh and bones (Lukk.24: 39) and ate food (Luke.24: 41-42) even after the resurrection. This is why Chakkaraiah calls him ‘the Avatar.’ He is not temporarily a man but he is ‘the man’ permanently. Chenchiah calls him as ‘the New Man’, but not at the absence of divinity as he thought. His humanity is permanently united with his divinity. He is not a Godman but He is God-Man.

MGM Ministries-Article Source: trumpetmagazine.com/read.aspx?lang=1&id=3&mid=28 – December 2004

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