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Was Jesus a Guy?

October 24, 2008

Many Christians tend to emphasize the deity of Jesus to the determent of his humanity and of the truth. Jesus was, is, and forever will be 100% man and 100% God. Both aspects of the person of Jesus Christ are absolute requirements in order for a person to be saved, to remain saved, to have access to God and to have fellowship with God for eternity. To diminish Jesus’ humanness and his human actions is error and heresy. The gospel requires that we present a real human who died and rose again and who is alive right now.

Jesus was gentle and kind to children and the broken-hearted. He always spoke the truth of God in love. He became sad and cried because of the lostness of mankind. He always perfectly obeyed the will of the Father. He taught with authority like no man had ever done before. He was the perfect man, seemingly too perfect for a mere man. He was God in human flesh. Everyone likes to view Jesus in this light.

He also needed to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. He sweat, his feet got dirty and like us he sometimes smelled and needed a bath. He became hungry and ate. His body functioned in every way like ours do. He became angry at people and yelled and used a whip on them. He was rude and harsh. He was a normal man in every way except he never sinned.

Many don’t like to think of Jesus in this way and don’t see the value of viewing him in all his humanity. Some would say to speak of Jesus in this way is error or even blasphemous. But, to deny or diminish these human actions and characteristics is to deny the plain teaching of scripture and of the early church.

This is important because if the humanness of Jesus is diminished or masked in any way so that he is presented as somehow a little beyond humanity or superhuman or only divine then the true Jesus is not being presented. This is dangerous because without the true divine and human Jesus you do not have salvation.

Concerning salvation, Jesus had to be 100% human, nothing more and nothing less, in order to be our legitimate representative and to be our legitimate substitute.

As for being our legitimate representative, Jesus had to be fully human in order to be a legitimate human representative (Rom. 5:19). God’s salvation plan requires that a man save humanity – not someone who is more than a man. In order for humans to be saved a human must represent humanity and perfectly obey God unto death, human death.

When Adam sinned we also sinned because he was our legitimate human representative in sin (Rom. 5:12-21). Adam, the first man, failed and we failed with him. Jesus, the “last Adam” and a man just like Adam, also represented humanity to God, but he was a holy and perfectly obedient human representative.

Without someone to represent us before God we would have to represent ourselves. And, because we are like Adam our father, we would also fail and fall and be eternally condemned if we tried to stand before God on our own. But, thankfully, we have a man who stands before God in perfect obedience and represents us because he is one of us, he is a man.

As for being our legitimate substitute, Jesus needed to be a true human to legitimately substitute His death for ours (Heb. 2:17). In order for a substitute to be legitimate and legal the substitute must be exactly equal to what it is replacing. If Jesus were less than human then his death would not be enough to pay for human sins and thus his substitution would not pay our penalty in full. And conversely – this is where many Christians make an error – if Jesus were more than human he could not be a legitimate substitute either. If Jesus were more than human then his death would be of more value than a human death. This may not seem like a problem at first, but it is. If the man Jesus was really more than a man then his death would be of more value than a man’s. And, if God accepted more of a payment for man’s sin than is required then God would be unjust. God would be unjust in going beyond the payment and punishment required. For Jesus to be a legitimate substitute for man and for God to be just and righteous in accepting him as a substitute, Jesus had to be exactly 100% man, nothing more and nothing less.

Jesus is a man, and he must be exactly so. And some reply, ‘But, Jesus is also God!’

Many Christians feel uncomfortable talking exclusively about the humanity of Jesus. The tendency is to emphasize Jesus’ deity to the determent of his humanity. In fact, this happens so often and is the norm for so many churches that when Jesus’ humanity is emphasized and he is spoken of in terms that portray him as a mere man it is not unusual for unlearned believers to respond with statements like ‘Error!’ and ‘Blasphemy!’ I think they are motivated by honestly trying to defend the deity of Christ and by trying to honor and glorify him. They don’t see how speaking of Jesus in normal, everyday, terms that show his complete humanity is honoring and glorifying him.

The biblical and theologically correct response to statements about the true, common humanity of Jesus is not ‘But, Jesus is also God!’ That is not the correct way to state this truth. Rather, it is ‘And, Jesus is also God!’ There is a world of difference in theology between those two little conjunctions ‘But’ and ‘And’.

It took the early church about 420 years – 420 years! – from the death of Christ to 451 AD, to finally clarify the difference between those two conjunctions with the Chalcedon creed. For those 420 years different errors and heresies denied or lessened or overemphasized either the humanity or deity of Jesus Christ. The beginning of the creed runs thus, “We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man” (italics added).

Also, to say that a reference to the humanity of Jesus in common terms is blasphemous shows a misunderstanding of what blasphemy is. By definition, a reference to Jesus’ humanity cannot be blasphemous. Blasphemy, definition: Greek; blaptein “to injure” with pheme “reputation”, signifies gross irreverence towards God. In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps. 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It refers to words that are spoken against God. It denotes any kind of evil-speaking or abuse or any remark deliberately mocking or disrespecting the person of God.

When referencing the humanity of Jesus Christ – the 100% real, genuine, human man Jesus – it is not blasphemous to refer to him the way you would refer to any man, so long as the terms you use to reference him are normal, non-disrespectful and non-derogatory terms you would use in relation to other men. If you can call another man a “guy” without being disrespectful or derogatory then you can call Jesus a “guy” without being disrespectful or derogatory to him.

Indeed, it cannot be blasphemous to refer to the man Jesus in normal human terms because you are not referencing God, but rather the 100% real, genuine, human man Jesus. Blasphemy has to do with being disrespectful and speaking in a derogatory way about God. It would be blasphemous to call the Second Person of the Trinity a guy. God is not a guy. Jesus was a 100% real, genuine guy, and 100% real, genuine God, “the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man.”

To speak of Jesus as a man in common terms as the Bible does is biblical, theologically correct and even required if we are to rightly understand His work on the cross and to rightly present him and his gospel to the world. It is perfectly fine and acceptable to use modern words that plainly communicate the humanness of Jesus to the world. To speak in this way is not blasphemous nor error.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2011 1:49 am

    This infinite debate! in my opinion he was 100% guy, and 100% God! nothing else

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