If you grew up in a bible believing church or have attended one for some time, the idea that Jesus is God is probably a given for you.
And it should be.
It’s one of the most important convictions we hold. Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher or a powerful prophet. He is God in the flesh. He has existed for eternity as the second Person of the Trinity.
On the other hand, it’s also important that Jesus became fully human. We don’t often think through the implications of the fact that Jesus really was made like us in every respect.
As a result, when we read the New Testament, we read Jesus as some kind of superhero. In our minds, anything good Jesus does is a result of Him being God. And, while that seems to free us of some moral accountability to live as He did, it also puts some distance between us and Him.
But Jesus’ humanity brings God nearer to us than we ever could have imagined.
Here are three reasons why it matters that Jesus became fully human.
1. He did everything He did by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we read about Jesus doing miracles, we always attribute His ability to do those things to the fact that He is God. After all, who else could turn water into wine? Who could heal the sick and raise the dead? Who could control the weather by the command of his word?
No one other than God in the flesh Himself, right?
Lots of people who weren’t God performed amazing miracles.
- Moses controlled the weather, called down plagues from heaven, parted a sea, and made drinking water come out of rocks. He even turned the Nile water into blood. (Not as fun as wine, but just as supernatural a feat.)
- Elijah called forth a drought and then called forth rain. He miraculously multiplied a widow’s food supply. He also raised her child from the dead.
- Peter and John made a paralyzed man able to walk. They also healed many others, as did the rest of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
- Paul also constantly healed the sick. He also raised someone from the dead.
All throughout the bible, we see ordinary humans performing miraculous signs and wonders.
How do we explain that?
Well, these were individuals whom God had chosen to work through. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God performed miraculous wonders through mortal men.
And that’s what God the Father did through Jesus. When Jesus performed miracles, He didn’t do so out of His own divine initiative, power, or authority. He performed miracles as a human connected and dependent on the Holy Spirit.
And when Jesus lived a sinless life and resisted temptation, He did so by the same means available to you and to me—by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit who promises to take up residence in the heart of every follower of Jesus.
That matters. You have a far greater ability to live like Jesus than you may have realized.
2. He paid the price that only God could but only humanity should.
Because of our sin, we have incurred a debt against God. Our debt can only be paid by God’s judgment, because He is a God of perfect justice.
And we could never pay the debt apart from an eternity of judgment. We could spend our entire lives trying to pay God back for every wrong we ever committed, but it would never be enough. We could never level the balance, because what God requires is perfection. And so we would need to become completely perfect and then some in order to level things out.
Obviously, we simply cannot become more perfect than perfect. Our only hope was if a perfect human took our judgment for us. And no human could be perfect, because our very nature is fallen.
Only the perfect God taking on humanity for Himself could do that.
That’s exactly what Jesus did for us. He came and lived a perfect life. The balance was already level. But Jesus took our judgment for us. And His payment for sin was credited to our account.
It only works if Jesus was able to perfectly take our place. Which He was, because He became completely human.
3. He dignified and redeemed our humanity.
God created humanity to have intrinsic and immeasurable value. He created us in His image. He made us to look like Him. Not physically, but in our character and spirit.
That’s always been true.
But Jesus did something even greater when He entered into time and became a man. By God taking on humanity as a part of Himself, He magnified the dignity of our humanity by redeeming it within His own body.
And here’s the amazing thing. Jesus’ humanity isn’t something temporary. When Jesus rose from the dead, He rose as a new kind of humanity, full of glory. The kind of humanity that is promised to us in the future. And the bible says that Jesus will return in the same way that He left when He ascended into heaven.
Jesus’ humanity is now eternal. Because of what He has done, humanity is eternally dignified and honored in Him.
In the incarnation of God there is no lowering of Deity; but the nature of man we believe to be exalted.
(Anselm of Canterbury)
Jesus is our hope for what humanity could be, should be, and will be.
Jesus became fully human so that we could.
God has always had a plan for humanity. It seemed like we had surrendered that life when we rejected a relationship with God. Humanity became a broken shell of what it used to be—what it was intended to be.
But through Jesus’ humanity, we are restored. We are made whole. We begin to regain what we had lost. And as we look ahead to eternity, we know that God will finish what He started.
For Further Reading
If you want your mind to be blown, check out these classic works.
- Cur Deus Homo? by Anselm of Canterbury
- On the Incarnation of the Word by Athanasius of Alexandria
Or these modern works.
- Person of Christ by Donald Macleod
- One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation by Marcus Peter Johnson