[We continue in “March Memories” with another post on the person of the Lord Jesus, who was and is so much more than we really have any idea about.]
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…. John 1:14.
See also Philippians 2:5-11.
I suppose this is a continuation of “The Third Genealogy,” where we focused on the deity of Jesus. He was truly God. If He isn’t, then there is no hope of salvation at all. But, as John also emphasized, He was also truly human, with a real body.
In the first place, the body of our Lord was indeed a real body. Some have supposed that He was merely an apparition or a phantom, only appearing to have a body. But His body was as real as yours or mine. Though He was truly God, He was also truly human. His body developed in Mary’s womb just like any other baby. His birth was like any other.
Really, it’s the “virgin conception” that made Him special, though He was born of a virgin. He grew and developed just like your children or mine, Luke 2:52. I’ve often wondered if He “spoiled” His parents for their other children. Yes, I know there’s a huge discussion about this, which I won’t get into here, with a large percentage of professing Christendom believing in Mary’s perpetual virginity. It’s enough for me that Matthew 1:25 clearly says that Joseph and Mary enjoyed normal marital intimacy after the birth of Jesus. And Jesus being called Mary’s “firstborn” is meaningless if He were her “only born.”
Second, it was a human body. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, and that “flesh” was truly human. There is also a discussion over whether or not Jesus could have sinned. I’ll only say that I don’t think it was possible for Him to sin – He is holy, harmless, and undefiled, Hebrews 7:26. As I’ve said elsewhere, Satan had no “hook” in Him to get Him to sin. Sin is not essential to being human. Adam and Eve were perfectly and completely human as they came from the hand of their Creator. Sin may have “entered” the human race, but it isn’t essential to us, and one day will be gone from those who have been saved.
Third, it was a “prepared” body, Hebrews 10:5. The conception and birth of Jesus wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing; it was carefully planned and prepared for in eternity past, 1 Peter 1:20. In Matthew 1:22, we read that all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet…. The immediate context refers to the virgin birth, but the virgin herself didn’t just appear out of thin air. I think it can be said without exaggeration that “all this” includes everything from the very creation of Adam himself. After all, the human DNA for the Lord’s body would have to have been present in Adam and carefully and providentially safeguarded through all the generations from Adam to Jesus. Wasn’t the seed of the woman promised from the very beginning? If not in Adam, then when was it introduced into Mary’s ancestry?
Fourth, it was a sacrificial body. Jesus came into this world to be an offering for sin, a sacrifice for sinners. His body was carefully prepared to be the sacrifice which would take away the sin of the world, that is, of the human race considered as a whole. The only ones individually who can say their sins are paid for are those who have believed on Him for salvation. Unbelievers are still subject to God’s wrath, John 3:17, 18, and will still pay for their own sins, though that debt will never be paid.
Finally, it is a resurrected body. Jesus truly died; He truly rose again from the dead. Some have questioned this with the idea that a resurrection would somehow have cancelled out his payment for sin. But the resurrection is the receipt, if you will, for that payment. Without the resurrection, we have no way of knowing if His death was any more effective in that regard than the death of the others who died with Him that day. Furthermore, read Paul’s defense of the physical resurrection of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 15. If there is no resurrection from the dead, then there is no salvation from sin and, as Paul put it, if there is no salvation, then Christians are to be pitied more than any other humans.
(Originally published March 17, 2013.) edited and new material.