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How Human Was Jesus?

30 Jul
from Google Images

from Google Images

I remember years ago when a presidential candidate wanted to show how common he was and went shopping in a supermarket.[1] He completely blew it in the checkout line, when the cashier used the barcode scanner to put the price of the items he intended to buy into the register. He marveled at this new technology (it was in use for two decades), so much for wanting to appear like common folk! I watched that on TV and laughed, telling my wife that he has never had the problem of balancing his own checkbook.

The New Testament tells us that the One who became Jesus took on the nature of a servant and was made in the likeness of man (Philippians 2:7). He wrapped himself in skin and dwelt with men (John 1:14). As Christians we believe that Jesus remained God, when he became man. That is, he had God’s nature, his essence, but not his power. In taking on flesh God embraced weakness, the same limitations we all have. I heard it best explained as a bucket of water, where the bucket is flesh and the water is God’s life. Human life (the water) is limited by the same bucket (flesh) that Jesus/God was limited. He was therefore equally God and equally man, but how human is that?

We are told that Jesus experienced the same temptations we experience but never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Should we understand this scripture to say that Jesus was exactly like us in his lusts/desires? I don’t believe so, and I hope to show why this is not so. Consider James 1:14, where we are told that men are tempted when they are carried away (dragged away) by their own lust. The NIV wrongly translates it “evil desire;” it is simply desire/lust. Jesus desired with great desire to spend his last Passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15). I like the way the NIV has it: “I have eagerly desired…” The same Greek word (G1939) is used in Luke 22:15 as in James 1:14. Therefore, we can say that whenever Jesus was tempted or tested he was drawn away (dragged away) by his own desire (James 1:14), probably at the suggestion of others. That is, the thought didn’t originate with Jesus, but because his desires resonated with the desires of men his mind was “dragged away” to consider what men wanted him to do. All of Jesus’ temptations can be shown to have originated this way, even in Luke 4 and Matthew 4. How should we understand this?

First of all, I believe we should understand it in the light of the reason for Jesus’ coming, namely, to save mankind—to provide a way out of death. Jesus is the Lord of the new creation—or we could say he is the second Adam (1Corinthians 15:45-47). He has told us that he is not the Lord of this life (John 18:36). Rather, he is the Way out of this life (John 14:6) or out of Adam and into Himself (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:28). Therefore, if Jesus is to save us from this life/death in Adam, how could he ever be enticed by Adam’s life (cp. James 1:14)? To be enticed (G1185) one is to be deluded or entrapped. We are deluded or enticed (G1185) by the desires of life in Adam, and when legitimate desire is deluded, it brings forth sin (James 1:15), but Jesus, though he was tested/tempted in the same manner that we are, he was never deluded and, therefore, could never sin (Hebrews 4:15). But, how was this done?

The scriptures tell us that, if we “walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16), because the flesh and the Spirit are contrary to one another. One is unable to walk in the Spirit and keep from sinning and walk in the flesh and sin at the same time (Galatians 5:17). This Scripture was brought home to me once when I was a young man. I lusted after women, and couldn’t keep my eyes from looking lustfully at a pretty woman. I often tried, but I was too weak, and eventually I would let my eyes behold what I knew I shouldn’t consider. Once I stood in a bank to cash my check and saw a pretty young woman in line. Immediately, I thought—“Oh no, another defeat! I began to pray, when suddenly I realized I couldn’t pray and let my eyes roam at the same time. As long as I prayed I had no compulsion to look at the woman! I wish I could say I never lusted again, but I cannot. Nevertheless, for the first time I became acquainted with the power of God to overcome temptation. Jesus never sinned, because he was continually filled with the Holy Spirit and continually walked in the Spirit and, therefore, couldn’t sin. Thus, not only does Jesus show us his weakness in that he became flesh to dwell with us, but also shows us his power or the Way out of death—trusting him, looking to him (Hebrews 12:1-2) who knew no sin.

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Kingdom of God

 

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