The Nature of Jesus Christ
The only way anyone can know anything about the nature of Jesus Christ is to take what is said in Scripture of him. Does the Bible present him as the eternal Son of the Living God, or as a mere man who somehow lived a life of perfection? Was he more than a man while in the flesh? How are we to understand in him a perfect and complete blend of both God and man? This has been a matter of debate from the time he first set foot on earth. It remains a matter of controversy.
There are a number of expositors who contend that Jesus, while on earth, “was a man, just a man, a man no different than other men.” Among those who have expressed this view of Jesus was William Barclay. Barclay was a very prolific writer. Unfortunately he was a very liberal theologian who who gave lip service to belief in Christ’s deity while on earth, but also denied many of the miracles Jesus did. Barclay preached that Jesus, as an ordinary man, doubted his own deity when confronted by Satan. Please read.
“Now here is where there may be some kind of hint of truth behind the very early stories which tell of Jesus as being unwilling to go to John, and as going under pressure from his family. We have already seen the account of what happened which is in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. In that Gospel (an uninspired document, drs), Jesus’ words are: ‘Wherein have I sinned, that I should go and be baptized by John? unless peradventure this very thing that I have said is a sin of ignorance.’ The strange thing is that in that saying of Jesus there is a lurking doubt and uncertainty; Jesus in it recognizes the possibility that he may be mistaken. Two things are clear, and these two things must be set side by side. First, Jesus so identified himself with men that he entered absolutely and completely into the human situation. Second, a part of the human situation, which no one who has set his hand to some great task fully escapes, is self-doubt.” The Mind of Jesus, William Barclay, pages 27-28.
The modernistic approach to the humanity of Jesus generally begins with an effort to create a Jesus who enters “absolutely and completely into the human situation.” Next, Jesus is described as being unsure and uncertain as to his identity and mission. This caricature of Jesus misuses the temptations Satan presented to Jesus, focusing on the Devil’s words, “If you are the Son of God.” Listen again to Barclay:
“Before we examine the three temptations in detail, we must note that in them the tempter made one basic attack on Jesus. He attacked Jesus’ consciousness of himself and of his task. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he began (Matt. 4:3,5; Luke 4:3,9). This was an attack which was to return even when Jesus was on the cross. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ said his enemies, ‘come down from the cross’ (Matt. 17:40; Luke 23:35-37). Here is the temptation to Jesus to distrust himself, to doubt his call, to question his task and his ability and equipment for it. It is as if the tempter said: ‘How can you, a penniless, uneducated Galilean carpenter, possibly be the Messiah of God? Who ever conceived of a Messiah starving in the wilderness? Who ever thought of a Messiah on the way to as cross?’ There is nothing as paralyzing as doubt; there can be no decisive and effective action without certainty. Jesus well knew the traditional and conventional ideas of what the Messiah ought to be; and he well knew that the way he was called upon to choose was a complete and revolutionary contradiction of them. The tempter began by seeking to make Jesus doubt his own call from God, but Jesus was so sure of God, and of his own relationship to God, that the attack failed.” Ibid. page 37.
Barclay’s final words in the preceding citation are shallow and hollow. After affirming that Jesus doubted his own call from God, he weakly affirms that Jesus was somewhat sure -- enough to repel the satanic appeal. Aside from the fact that the picture that liberalism paints of Jesus is wrong, the opposite is true. Christ repeatedly demonstrated his absolute knowledge of his being and destiny and never showed any doubts at all about his identity, his mission, and his ultimate return to Heaven.
Our friends in the Jehovah’s Witness Organization are taught to believe our Lord was just an ordinary man. Read the following from their own writings:
“God’s justice would not let Jesus, as a ransom be more than a perfect man. So he could not be the Supreme God Almighty in the flesh.” Let God Be True, page 106.
“We shall see subsequently, when we come to consider particularly the ransom feature of his work, that it was absolutely necessary that he should be a man -- neither more nor less -- than a perfect man.” Studies in the Scripture, Volume V, page 95..
These quotes come from official Watchtower Society publications and are essential to the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. As with modernists of all varieties, the notion that when Jesus came to earth, he came in the same manner of all human beings. Some contend that his birth different from other humans only in that he had no earthly sire. Even those who believe in his pre-existence claim a dramatic change was made in his basic being, his nature. However, such ideas are not supported by Scripture.
Jesus affirmed that he exists from all eternity. He was confronted by Jews and condemned because of his claim which was taken to imply he was greater than Abraham, the father of the Jews. Jesus replied, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:56-58). Jesus had no beginning; He has no end -- he is eternal.
Jesus affirmed the certainty of his triumph over death. One of the most significant signs Jesus promised was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up” (John 2:19). The Jews understood him to refer to the Temple in Jerusalem, but verse 21 says “He was speaking of the temple of His body.” It is undeniable that Jesus had absolute and positive knowledge that he would return to life again after his death. The same fact is stated in Matt. 16:21.
Jesus was not afraid to die. Some may ask in reference to Heb. 5:7: “How could Jesus be said to have feared? Fear is a human reaction.” Heb. 5:7 reads, “who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his godly fear.” The effort to create a Jesus who entered absolutely and completely into the human situation results in a misunderstanding of His fear. He could have had no mortal dread, for in the same epistle we are informed that, “He endured the cross patiently because of the joy that was set before Him ” (Heb. 12:2). Fear is also manifested in piety and reverence. Jesus, anticipating the cruel cross, with all its horrors endured it because he was absolutely sure and certain it was the passage back to his eternal glory at the right hand of the majesty on high.
Though Jesus was a man, He did not fear death with all the fullness of fear that mankind knows. He feared only in the sense of absolute piety and reverence. The next verse tells us that “though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:8-9). Based on the premise that Jesus had certain knowledge of the divine, he therefore became truly a compassionate example for us because he endured what we endure. He is an example to us that we should not dread death, but think as Paul: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, “which is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23). Questions about this article are welcome. Email: Valley Church
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