God’s Word for You – Luke 3:34-36 The humanity of Jesus

LUKE 3:34-36

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ – In the Days of the Patriarchs
34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

In this part of Jesus’ genealogy there are fifteen generations, taking us backward from the days of the Patriarchs at least five hundred years to the time of the Flood. Note some of the events associated with some of these men, many of whom lived for many centuries.

Lamech (who died just before the Flood)
Noah (lived long enough—950 years—to have known Abraham)
Arphaxad (born two years after the flood)
Cainan (not Canaan, and not mentioned in 1 Chron. 1:24)
Eber (still living in Abraham’s day; namesake of the Hebrews)
Peleg (born at the time of the Tower of Babel, Genesis 10:25)
Nahor (the grandfather of Rebekah and Laban)
Terah (traveled with Abraham out of Ur, but died in Haran)
Abraham, the great Patriarch
Isaac, the son of the promise
Jacob, also called Israel

As we read these names, we’re reminded of the middle chapters of Genesis (chapters 6-35) and the stories of the Patriarchs in the years following the flood. Noah fell into the Fifth Commandment sin of drunkenness. In Peleg’s time, the civilized world became embroiled in an arrogant First Commandment sin with the Tower of Babel. Nahor and Terah fell into the First Commandment sin of idolatry (Joshua 24:2). Both Abraham and Jacob fell into Sixth Commandment sins with their bigamy and polygamy. With all of this sin throughout the world, even here in the line of the Savior, a natural question appears: In what way is Jesus Christ a human being? And following that, was Jesus able to sin? The second question we will take up in about three verses from here, with his temptation (Luke 4:1-13). But what about the extent of Jesus’ humanity?

■ The Word, that is, the Second Person of the Trinity, became flesh (John 1:14). His descent from the patriarchs is specifically mentioned by Paul, “The patriarchs, from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all” (Romans 9:5). This happened physically through a human birth: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law” (Galatians 4:4). But at the same time, the Divine Second Person assumed that human nature, taking it into himself. This did not diminish the Son of God nor did it destroy or alter any human man. God became the man—the man who would not otherwise have come into existence.

■ The human nature of Jesus is not draped with the divine, or attached to the divine, but is filled with it; permeated with it. “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). This means that the body of Jesus is the flesh of God. The soul of Jesus is the also where God dwells—the spirit of Christ. In every way, the man Jesus is God. In Luke 23, the soul and body of God are separated by death, the soul returning to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and the body remaining on the cross, to be removed by his friends (Luke 23:52-53). His body and soul were rejoined in the resurrection, precisely as our bodies and souls will be rejoined in the resurrection on the Last Day (1 Cor. 15:23).

This union of the two natures of Christ, the divine and the human, can be described with accuracy only by describing what it is not:

□ It is not a partial union. Jesus is human in every respect, every bit as human as Adam. However, just as Adam was not created with a sinful nature, so also Christ was not incarnate with a sinful nature.

□ It is not merely a verbal union, as if the divine and human natures are merely said to be united. The person of Jesus has two natures, but they are unified and not separate.

□ It is not merely a relative union (or “respective union”). The teaching of most Reformed Protestants has been that Jesus’ two natures exist with a relatively simultaneous separation while yet conjoined—as with two spouses, two friends, or two members of the same church. This teaching goes back to the Gnostics. But Jesus assumed every part of our humanity in order to redeem us.

□ It is not an accidental union. Many Christians have attempted to separate his natures over the centuries, as if their non-essential attributes merely coincide (as with wine and its color or taste), or as when a believer experiences the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, but does not become the Holy Spirit, or as when boards are glued together (an ancient Nestorian teaching). No, Christ’s two natures are one. They are joined and inseparable. This also means that when Jesus returns again on the Last Day, we will see him still in the flesh as the Apostles saw him ascend (Acts 1:11).

□ It is not an essential union. By this we mean that Christ’s two natures are not somehow fused into a new, otherwise unknown essence. His divine nature remains divine, not something else: he is not a demi-god, he is God. His human nature remains human, not something else. He is not a superman, he is a man.

God took on the flesh of humanity and became a man. His flesh came from the Virgin Birth. Yet Christ is without sin, he is immortal, and his human nature contains no personality apart from that of Jesus Christ. He is who he is, and there is no other: ἐστιν oἷoς ἐστι, καὶ oὐκ ἐστιν ἔτι. The Lord said of his own divinity: “The LORD is God in heaven above and on earth below. There is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39), and this can be said to a lesser degree about Christ’s humanity: there no separate person of Jesus apart from Christ, our God. Our one God assumed our flesh to redeem us from all of our sins. If your head spins a little from thinking about this, then be still, and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). He has rescued you, so thank and praise and serve and obey him.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Archives by Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel: http://www.wlchapel.org/worship/daily-devotion/
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota


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