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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is Christ still a man?

This week in the women’s bible study there was a theological question, which was passed on to me.  I thought I’d take the time to answer it here for everybody.
Is Christ forever both fully God and fully man?  In other words, when He was resurrected or when He ascended, did He continue to be fully man or did He resume His pre-incarnation existence?
This is a great question and one that the Bible does answer for us.  It’s important to start out in the right place, understanding that prior to the incarnation, Christ was the Eternal Son, existing as spirit – that is, He had no physical body.  John 1:1-2 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  Likewise, Phil 2:6 notes that “…He was in the form of God…”  The indication then is that in eternity past, the Son existed in the same form as the Father.
But within the contexts of both passages cited above, it is noted that the Eternal Son took on human flesh.  John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Phil 2:8a, “And being found in human form...”  We all know that, but was that permanent?
Well, the Holy Spirit inspired a number of proofs that Christ’s resurrection was a bodily resurrection.  First, John 20:25-27 tells us that Jesus proved His resurrection to Thomas by inviting him to touch the wounds in His hands and side. 
Similarly, Luke 24 recounts that several of the disciples were doubting when they first saw the resurrected Christ: 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
It is clear then that after the resurrection, the Son was still in the form of a man.  But what about after He ascended into heaven?  Acts 1:11 gives us a definitive answer.  As the disciples stood staring into the sky after Jesus was taken up into heaven, two angels said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."  Christ ascended in bodily form and will return in bodily form, indicating that His state is unchanged. 
Additionally, in Matt 26:29 Jesus said to the disciples, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”  Revelation 19:9 also tells of the great marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven that will take place in the end.  And Colossians 2:9 tells us, For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.  All of these things indicate that Christ continues to exist in human form.
This is great to know, but it is even more important for us to recognize why it is necessary for Christ to be fully human for eternity.  First, Christ’s role as our mediator/priest requires that He remain fully God and fully man.  Because of our estrangement from God, we needed someone to represent God to us and to represent us to God.  1 Timothy 2:5 shows that Christ is the singular figure who is able to do that and that His humanity is an essential part of that role: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 
Likewise, the book of Hebrews reveals Christ as our perfect high priest.  A vital part of His functioning in that role is His ability to identify with our humanity:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb 4:15)
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb 2:18)
The book also indicates in numerous places that Christ serves in this priestly role forever (Heb 5:6, 6:20, 7:3, 7:17, 7:24, 13:8).  This would lose all significance and meaning were Christ no longer a man.
This should inspire all the more love and adoration for our Savior and His eternal, selfless service to us. When the Son condescended and took the form of a man, He did so as a permanent, gracious act.  Out of love for us and obedience to the Father, He remains our perfect high priest forever.
Posted by Greg Birdwell

1 comment:

Joy said...

Thanks Greg! This was very helpful. It never occurred to me that Jesus is still/forever will be both God and man, or why that is necessary.