One of the earliest heresies in the church was Gnosticism — a system of doctrine which ultimately denied the humanity of Christ. Were it not so serious, one could almost be amused at the distortions which have been preached relative to Jesus Christ. The first century denied His humanity; the twentieth century denies His deity. Thus, man has tried both ends of heresy. Yet the truly Biblical doctrine is that He was fully and uniquely God as well as being perfectly human.
Sometimes we so emphasize the deity of Jesus that we neglect the fact that He was a man. The fact that He became a man is important for the following reasons:
(1) His humanity qualified Him to die for us. Jesus is described as our mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). Paul said, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” A mediator must be able to represent the positions of both of the parties which, though presently alienated, seek reconciliation. As a divine person, Jesus was more than qualified to represent God; as a man, He was qualified to represent humanity. Thus, the purpose for the incarnation of Jesus Christ was that He might be qualified to be our mediator and, thus, able to die for us. The author of Hebrews said, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering Thou has not desired, but a body Thou hast prepared for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God”‘” (Heb. 10:4-7). The body of Jesus was given to Him in order that He might accomplish the work of God — namely, to die for us.
(2) The humanity of Jesus enabled Him to understand the nature of our problems. Again, the author of Hebrews wrote, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (2:14, 17-18). Again, he said, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (4:15-16).
There are two conclusions which result from this fact which I want you to notice: (a) Jesus is able to understand our problems and thus sympathize with the faithful. (b) Having gone through life on this earth, Jesus is qualified to recognize an excuse when He hears one. No one will be able to say to God in the day of judgement, “You just do not know what it is like down there on earth.” Our Judge, Jesus Christ, does know what it is like down here.
(3) The humanity of Jesus made it possible for Him to give us the perfect example. Peter wrote, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus has shown us the kind of life which pleases God and told us to imitate it.
Although the doctrine of the deity of Christ is important and perhaps has been the object of more of our preaching, the doctrine of the humanity of Christ is also important. For this reason, John said that anyone who denied the humanity of Jesus was the anti-Christ (1 Jn. 4:2-3). Practically, the fact that Jesus became a man makes it easier for me to approach the throne of grace in my prayers.