In many evangelical churches, much attention is rightfully focused on the deity of Jesus Christ. In The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ, Bruce A. Ware turns a bright spotlight on His humanity. Asking common and uncommon questions about the humanity of Christ, Mr. Ware answers with clarity. While the topic of the book demands that the majority of the discussion focus on the humanity of Christ, Ware in no way detracts from the deity of Christ or minimizes its importance.
Ware begins with the question of whether it is reasonable for the Bible to expect us to follow the example of the One who committed no sin. After all, Jesus had the unfair advantage of deity. Before he answers that challenge, Ware sets a foundation by explaining what Philippians 2:5-8 means by the statement that Jesus “emptied” Himself to take on human form. It does that the Lord poured part of Himself into human form on earth and left something behind in heaven. Rather, it means that, while maintaining His full nature as God, He poured all of Himself into human form by taking on a full human nature. So there was not a subtraction but an addition.
Christ emptied Himself, setting aside His own will to do the will of the Father. Why? His highest goal was the Father’s glory, and His obedience would achieve that end.
God the Son deserves total worship and as King deserves absolute obedience from men. Yet in unhesitating obedience to His Father from before His incarnation, He willingly gave up the delights of heaven and the majesty of absolute rule. To become human He descended unimaginable proportions from the throne room of God to His footstool, earth. Taking on the limitations of a human body and human nature did not allow the full expression of the qualities and prerogatives of His deity even though He still retained them. He experienced fully the frailties of a human body. Descending even further, He lived in extreme poverty, then suffered deprivations and abuse, in order to bear our sin and die as His Father sent Him to do. With this in mind, the phrase “do what Jesus would do” takes on far more significance than a cliché.
So how can God expect us to follow His example? Ware answers that question in the second chapter through another question. How did Jesus achieve perfect, sinless obedience? Was it by the power of His deity? It was not. Acts 10:38 teaches that He did it in His humanity by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not trust in Himself but in the Spirit. He set the example of not just perfect obedience, but of the means of accomplishing it, the same means He expects us to use.
Other questions include:
- When did the Spirit indwell Jesus?
- How was it that Jesus, infinitely wise in His divine nature, increased in wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52)? One who increases in wisdom doesn’t know it all from the first.
- How could He who is perfect God grow in faith, learn obedience, and be made perfect through sufferings (Heb. 5:7-9)?
- How can it be simultaneously true that the Son of God was genuinely impeccable and also genuinely tempted (Heb. 4:15)?
- Was it essential that Jesus be male (Heb. 2:17)? Could He have just as effectively accomplished the Father’s goal as a female?
- Why couldn’t God have made a second perfect Adam to pay the penalty for sin as a perfect, sinless, substitute sacrifice (1 Pet. 2:24)? Why did the sacrifice have to be fully God as well as fully human?
- What is the importance of Jesus’ humanity in relation to His resurrection and His future return?
- How can the Son who created the world be described as having been given authority over it (Eph. 1:20-23)?
- What will Christ’s humanity have to do with His future reign?
Each chapter provides a readable exposition of one key passage to lucidly explain difficult concepts. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter provide a means to enhance personal reflection or stimulate group discussion.
Reading this book will build comprehension of why the incarnation was essential for the Lord’s redemptive work. As you contemplate the ramifications on the Son of God for Him to be the Son of Man, you will be moved to marvel at Christ and worship. This book will encourage stronger love for the Man Christ Jesus.