The Humanity of Christ


Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

The Humanity of Christ
======================
That God the Son took upon Himself a real
human nature is a crucial doctrine
of historic Christianity. The great
ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in A.D.
451 affirmed that Jesus is truly man
and truly God and that the two natures of
Christ are so united as to be
without mixture, confusion, separation, or
division, each nature retaining
its own attributes.

The true humanity of Jesus has been assaulted chiefly
in two ways. The early
church had to combat the heresy of docetism, which
taught that Jesus did not
have a real physical body or a true human nature.
They argued that Jesus only
“seemed” to have a body but in reality was a
phantom sort of being. Over
against this, John strongly declared that those
who denied that Jesus came
truly in the flesh are of the
Antichrist.

The other major heresy the church rejected was the
monophysite heresy. This
heresy argued that Jesus did not have two natures,
but one. This single nature
was neither truly divine nor truly human but a
mixture of the two. It was
called a “theanthropic” nature. The mono-physite
heresy involves either a
deified human nature or a humanized divine
nature.

Subtle forms of the monophysite heresy threaten the church in
every
generation. The tendency is toward allowing the human nature to be
swallowed
up by the divine nature in such a way as to remove the real
limitations of
Jesus’ humanity.

We must distinguish between the two
natures of Jesus without separating them.
When Jesus hungers, for example, we
see that as a manifestation of the human
nature, not the divine. What is said
of the divine nature or of the human
nature may be affirmed of the person. On
the cross for example, Christ, the
God-man, died. This, however, is not to
say that God perished on the cross.
Though the two natures remain united
after Christ’s ascension, we must still
distinguish the natures regarding the
mode of His presence with us. Concerning
His human nature, Christ is no
longer present with us. However, in His divine
nature, Christ is never absent
from us.

Christ’s humanity was like ours. He became a man “for our
sakes.” He entered
into our situation to act as our Redeemer. He became our
substitute, taking
upon Himself our sins in order to suffer in our place. He
also became our
champion, fulfilling the law of God on our behalf.

In redemption there is a twofold exchange. Our sins are imparted to Jesus. His
righteousness is imparted to us. He receives the judgment due to our
imperfect
humanity, while we receive the blessing due to His perfect
humanity. In His
humanity Jesus had the same limitations common to all human
beings, except
that He was without sin. In His human nature He was not
omniscient. His
knowledge, though true and accurate as far as it went, was
not infinite. There
were things He did not know such as the day and the hour
of His return to
earth. Of course in His divine nature He is omniscient and
His knowledge is
without limit.

As a human being Jesus was restricted
by time and space. Like all human beings
He could not be in more than one
place at the same time. He sweated. He
hungered. He wept. He endured pain. He
was mortal, capable of suffering death.
In all these respects He was like
us.

Jesus had a true human nature that was perfectly united with His
divine
nature.

Docetism said that Jesus did not have a real physical
body.

The monophysite heresy involves the deification of the human nature
by which
His humanity is eclipsed by His deity.

Christ’s humanity is
the basis of His identification with us.

Jesus took our sins upon Himself
and imparts His righteousness to us.

Jesus’ human nature had the
limitations of normal humanity, except that He was
without sin.

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