If Jesus is not fully human, his resurrection provides no real hope for humanity. But if God has raised the man Christ Jesus – the new and better Adam (which literally means man) – who has been faithful on our behalf as our representative, then the claim to a future hope of resurrection suddenly has power. God did not simply raise God because God cannot die and God could raise himself from the dead. Rather, he raised the man Christ Jesus who – being just like us and functioning as the substitutionary representative for humanity.
At the incarnation we see God become man. Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, took upon himself human flesh. In doing so, he didn’t cease to be fully God nor did he become something more than man (either a demi-God or a super-human). Jesus became the God-Man; fully human and yet fully God with two separate natures united in one person.
If you think that sounds weird, that fact isn’t lost on Christians. Jim Packer said, ‘Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation.’ He goes on, ‘This is the real stumbling block in Christianity. It is here that Jews, Muslims, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many of those who feel the difficulties concerning the virgin birth, the miracles, the atonement, and the resurrection have come to grief.’ But it is, he insists, ‘in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.’
I am not going to spend any time today defending the Incarnation. I am simply going to assume it as the evident teaching of scripture. Jesus Christ is, according to the Bible, both fully God and fully man. What I want to do here is dig into why that in any way matters. Today, I will focus on his humanity and tomorrow his divinity. So, why is Jesus’ full humanity so important?
A Suitable Representative
Way back in Eden, Adam – the first man – served as the representative for all humanity. As our federal head, Adam’s sin meant we all sinned and Adam’s guilt is imputed to us and becomes our guilt. Much of the rest of the Old Testament is concerned with trying to find a second Adam who would obey God and become the faithful covenant partner through whom God could save his people. If all were guilty in Adam, we need a representative through whom all could be made righteous. Though many potential second Adams rise up but ultimately fail, the Bible is clear that Jesus is sent by God as this faithful representative. As such, Jesus had to be a man – made just like us – so that he could be an appropriate and adequate representative for the human race.