Jesus – what sort of human?

Posted: December 13, 2011 by J in General

We left ourselves on the horns of a dilemma in order to go and consider a key text in Romans 8:3.

The dilemma is, if Jesus was NOT a man like us, subject to every temptation that we face, then he could not act as our priest make a sin offering for us (Hebrews 3:17). But if he WAS like us, then he has a nature like ours, sinful and fallen.

They both sound pretty bad don’t they. I can’t think of any way to make the first option sound better, but the second I think is worth exploring a little.

If Jesus was made ‘like us in every way’ (Heb 3:17) and took on flesh (fallen humanity) then he put himself under the power of sin and death. C.S. Lewis thinks it was easy for Jesus to obey his Father through life. But if he’s like us in every way, then it wasn’t. He was plagued by wicked and dark thoughts, like we are. He was destabilised by changing moods like we are. He had areas of personal weakness where the evil one would hit him hardest – like us. He felt the pull of temptation, the attraction of sin as his fallen nature responded to its siren call. He looked in himself and was distressed by what he saw there. And distressed, he cried out to his Father to save him. ‘Father take this cup from me.’ His baptism was a confession of his need to be renewed by the Spirit of God, released from sin, transformed from ‘flesh’ to ‘spirit’ (from old creation to new).

And yet, through all these struggles and griefs, he is enabled and empowered by the Spirit to love and obey God his Father. He is tempted, terribly tempted – but he does not sin. He follows his calling to be a faithful son.

By this account, Jesus comes very close to us indeed: right into the misery of our fallen and lost condition.

Can we accept this picture of Jesus? If not, where is the sticking point? Is it the thought that, if Jesus has a fallen sinful nature, he is offensive in God’s eyes, his very existence is guilty before God? The worry that if Jesus inherits Adam’s corruption, he inherits his guilt and curse as well?

If so, why does this idea bother us?

Isn’t this exactly what we believe about Jesus: that he took upon himself our guilt and shame, and became offensive to God? That he inherited our curse? We believe it at the cross. What about through the rest of Jesus’ life, starting with his birth? What if Jesus’ very incarnation was a part of his sin-bearing? That would make his whole life an act of atonement, with the cross as its culmination.

What if at the cross Jesus wasn’t taking responsibility for sinfulness unconnected to him, but rather for sins which really did belong to him because he has taken them up by becoming one of Adam’s sons.

This would charge his incarnation, his birth, with a great deal of meaning. It would charge it with gospel importance.

That would be something worth talking about in a Christmas message!

What do you reckon?

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