The Humanity of Jesus: His Resurrection and Reign

ManThe church’s failure to consider carefully the humanity of Jesus has often led to an anemic and pathetic understanding of the Christian life. We downplay his humanity, or simply ignore it, so much that it has led to many impotent Christian walks. But Jesus’s humanity offers the average believer hope, help, and power. This is true even as we consider the miracle of his resurrection and continued reign. Jesus’s resurrection and continued reign have implications for our own humanity.

It will seem strange to many to attempt to connect the humanity of Jesus to his resurrection and his reign. These two events, if any, are deeply connected to the supernatural power of God. They are connected too, however, to his humanity. Bruce Ware asserts:

These three inseparable realities – the resurrection, reign, and return of Christ – provide great hope and confidence to the followers of Christ, and all three are tied directly to the humanity he bore as he became incarnate. After all, it is the humanity of Jesus that was raised from the dead, and it is in the humanity of Jesus that he is exalted to the Father’s right hand to reign over all, and it will be in his humanity that he returns to earth just as the disciples watched him go (Acts 1:11). (129)

Ware is quick to assert that the second piece of his triad, the reign of Christ, deserves special defense. It will seem to some the least likely to be attached to the humanity of Christ. Nonetheless we must accept some association here between these events and his humanity. Jesus does not lose his humanity when he rises from the dead and ascends into heaven. He maintains that distinct nature of God-man post-resurrection. Let’s look more closely at this post-resurrected God-man.

Paul stresses the importance of the resurrection of Christ for all of us when he tells the Corinthians that if Christ has not been raised then you are still in your sins (1 Cor. 15:14). We saw in the last post in this series that Jesus had to die as a man in order to be able to take our place. The link between our sin and Jesus’s resurrection requires the same humanity. Jesus died as a man, so he must be raised as a man. He died for our sins, and if he does not rise then sin has overcome him. He has no victory over sin without the resurrection. Paul even makes clear the humanity of Jesus in the resurrection when he says:

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Cor. 15:20-23)

Christ is the first among many brothers (Rom. 8:29), who will also experience this resurrection in their humanity (albeit a glorified humanity). We see already the significance of Christ’s resurrection for our own Christian life.

Our future is seen, foreshadowed, and bound up in Christ’s present reality. His resurrection anticipates our own. His physically renewed and glorified body foreshadows our own. His humanity is the model of our redeemed humanity. Ware writes:

Although we know little about the resurrected and glorified body of Jesus, we know that his glorified human existence has become the pattern for our future life. As Christ was raised, so shall we be, and so our hope both for life after death, and for human life at its pinnacle, is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus himself. His humanity is the pattern for our own, and as he reigns forever in his glorified human state, so we will reign as glorified humans alongside him. The hope we have of a future fullness of human existence is connected necessarily and inextricably to the fullness of the humanity of Jesus, whose humanity is the pattern and prototype for our own. (132-133)

The resurrection must be connected to the humanity of Jesus.

The current and continued reign of Christ too is connected to his humanity. This will strike some as a bit more audacious claim. Jesus, seated on the throne, reigning and ruling at the right hand of God is surely the divine Son of God! And so he is. But we should not dismiss the humanity he retained after his resurrection. In fact, many of the pictures the Bible gives to us of the reigning Jesus reveal truths about him that do not accord with his divinity. Jesus is said post-resurrection to have attained a power and authority that he did not previously have. How is this possible? Only in light of his humanity.

In Matthew 28:18 Jesus declares that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” How can the divine Son of God be “given” authority? He is the creator of it all, after all (Col. 1:16). He holds it all together by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3). But Jesus himself asserts that he has been “given” authority. God cannot be given authority, so here his reigning must be understood in conjunction to his humanity.

We can think too about Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Satan offers Jesus “all the Kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:9). Of course Jesus refuses the offer, but not because the offer itself is wrong. That is to say if Satan is simply offering all the Kingdoms of the world to the divine Son of God, then Jesus simply says, “they are already mine.” The offer makes no sense and offers no real temptation. But if, however, Satan is offering these kingdoms to the human messiah then the temptation is real! Then Satan is doing something very strategic, although he still fails. Jesus, as Bruce Ware writes, “does not challenge the offer Satan makes…Rather, he challenges the terms of the offer” (138). Jesus will not gain the kingdoms by worshiping Satan, but only through worshiping God.

There are ample places to consider the relationship between Jesus’s humanity and his reign. Ephesians 1:20-23 tells us that God “granted” to the Son absolute authority over all created things. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that God has “highly exalted” and “bestowed” on the risen Son eminence. In 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 God “has put all things in subjection under his feet.” Romans 14:9 reads, “For to this end Christ died,” and what is that end? It is “that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” The author of Hebrews tell us that the Son was “appointed heir of all things” (Heb. 1:1-3). And Peter declares that Jesus, having gone to the right hand of God, now has all “angels, authorities, and powers…subjected to him” (1 Peter 3:22). The Bible is replete with examples like this; examples that only make sense if we see Jesus’s reign as connected to his humanity.

Jesus, of course, is still God. His divinity has never been questioned in this series. But the stress on his humanity is an important correction to my own theology, and I believe it should be an important correction to Evangelicalism at large. The reigning Son of God is “given” authority because of his obedience, obedience even to death. The preceding texts highlight for us the reality that Jesus’s obedience was rewarded by God with exaltation. Paul writes:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. (Phil. 2:8-9)

Our obedience matters too. James 4:10 tells us to “humble” ourselves before the Lord. And then he gives us the motivation, “and he will exalt you.” Jesus epitomized this. His life is indeed a model for our lives. We will not lay claim to the same kind of authority as Jesus, he alone is Messiah. But we will reign with him in the new Kingdom (2 Tim. 2:11-13; 1 Cor. 6:3). And as we model Jesus’s obedience and good works in our lives we know that we will receive a similar reward. Jesus reigns as the risen Messiah, in his humanity. His reign models what our lives now and in the future should look like.

The humanity of Jesus continues to need unpacking and reasserting in the church. We take it as a mere fact, something to be acknowledged but not stressed. But our failure to look closely at Jesus’s humanity has led many Christians to a powerless and pathetic Christian existence. But our lives, to some varying degrees, should imitate Jesus’s life. Jesus, after all, in his humanity is our role model.

Comments

  1. SHARAT BABU says:

    Dear Brother Dave in JESUS, Thank you so much for this blessed message and is strengthening me. Evangelist Babu.

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