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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus

Don Stewart :: Was Jesus A Human Being?

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Was Jesus A Human Being?

What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus – Question 4

Throughout the centuries there have been those who questioned the humanity of Jesus. Some have contended that He was not fully human but only “appeared” to be this way. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was indeed fully human. This is seen in the following ways.

Jesus had a human birth, Jesus had a human ancestry, Jesus developed like a normal human being, as the promised Messiah Jesus had to be human, Jesus had the essential elements of a human being—body and spirit, Jesus was given human titles, Jesus was called a man, and finally He showed all the traits of being human.

We can give the following details that support these truths about the nature of Jesus Christ.

1. Jesus Had A Natural Human Birth And Childhood

To begin with, we find that the circumstances around the birth and childhood of Jesus show that He was fully human. The evidence is as follows.

A. Jesus Was Given A Human Name Before His Birth

Before Jesus was born, the angel told Joseph that Mary was going to have a child and that Joseph was to name him Jesus. We read the following in Matthew:

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23 NRSV)

Consequently, He was given a human name before birth.

B. Jesus Had a Normal Human Birth

Although Jesus was supernaturally conceived, the biblical account of His birth demonstrates that He was a fully human child with a normal human birth. Luke records the circumstances around His birth:

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7 NRSV)

His birth was a natural human birth like any other child. There was nothing spectacular about it at all.

C. Jesus Was a Human Child

When the shepherds saw the newborn babe, they quickly spread the news to others. Luke records the following:

And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:17 RSV)

This further emphasizes the fact that He was a genuine child.

When He was eight days old, Jesus was circumcised like other Jewish male children, and brought to the temple for dedication:

Eight days after his birth, the child was circumcised and named Jesus. This was the name the angel had given him before his mother became pregnant. After the days required by Moses’ Teachings to make a mother clean had passed, Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem. They took Jesus to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:21, 22 God’s Word)

In this description of His birth, there is no hint that He was anything other than human. While Mary supernaturally conceived a child; His birth was normal. Indeed, the shepherds spread the word about a child that was born. In the temple He was dedicated in the same manner as any other male child. Although His conception was supernatural, His birth was that of a normal, fully human child. The Apostle Paul wrote:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4 NRSV)

This is another testimony to His humanity.

2. Jesus Had a Human Ancestry

The genealogy of Jesus Christ links Him to the rest of humanity. In Luke’s Gospel His family line is traced all the way back to Adam, the first human. We read,

Kenan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God. (Luke 3:38 NLT)

His family line consists of human beings. They are actual historical characters; many of whom the Bible speaks about.

Therefore, everything that Scripture has to say about His birth indicates that Jesus was a genuine human child. The remainder of Jesus’ life testifies to the fact of His humanity.

A. He Developed Like a Normal Human Being

The Scripture states that the child Jesus grew in both size and wisdom. Luke records what occurred as follows:

So Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him. (Luke 2:52 NLT)

Growing in size, and intellectual ability, is a human trait. Therefore, this summary statement of His early years testifies to His humanity.

After the boy grew to be a man, this is further testimony to His humanity.

B. Jesus Was Part of a Family

The New Testament says that Jesus had a family. His mother was named Mary and He had four brothers and at least two sisters. In Matthew we read about those in Nazareth testifying to His family members:

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:55 NRSV)

All of this points to Jesus being fully human.

3. As The Messiah He Would Be Human

There is something else. The promised Messiah of the Old Testament was to be a human being. The evidence for this can be seen as follows.

A. He Was a Physical Descendant of King David

Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Messiah was to be a physical descendant of King David, a human being. We read that God promised David the following:

For when you die, I will raise up one of your descendants, and I will make his kingdom strong. (2 Samuel 7:12 NLT)

The promised Messiah would be a descendant of David. This clearly shows that the Messiah would be human.

Paul wrote about the human Jesus being David’s descendant. He put it this way in his letter to the Romans:

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and appointed to spread the Good News of God. (God had already promised this Good News through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. This Good News is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In his human nature he was a descendant of David. In his spiritual, holy nature he was declared the Son of God. This was shown in a powerful way when he came back to life. (Romans 1:1-4 God’s Word)

The fact that Jesus was born as a descendant of King David further testifies to His humanity.

B. The Messiah Was to Be the Seed of the Woman

He was the predicted “seed of the woman.” This also indicates true humanity. We read the following in the Book of Jesus:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15 NIV)

Jesus was physically related to the first woman, Eve.

C. The Messiah Is a Prophet like Moses

We also find that the Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses, a human being. Moses said to the people:

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18:15 NRSV)

Moses said the Messiah would be like him in the sense that He would be from the nation Israel. The Scriptures are clear that the Messiah was to be a human being.

D. He Was from the Nation Israel

The New Testament says that Jesus, the Messiah, was recognized as being from the nation Israel. Paul wrote to the Romans,

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:4, 5 NRSV)

This is another indication of Jesus’ genuine humanity. He was from the “chosen people.”

We read in John’s gospel how a Samaritan woman identified Jesus as a Jew. The Bible explains it this way:

“How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. (John 4:9 HCSB)

The fact that Jesus was Jewish was obvious.

Later we read in John’s gospel about how Jesus outwardly appeared to people. We find that He was a man less than fifty years of age. The Bible says,

Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” (John 8:57 NKJV)

Jesus looked like a grown man who had not yet reached the age of fifty. This is another indication of His humanity.

4. Jesus Had the Essentials Elements of a Human Being; a Body and a Spirit

The Bible says that Jesus possessed the essential elements of human nature; a human body, and a human spirit. It is obvious that He had a body in that He could touch people. We read about this in Matthew:

He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matthew 8:3 NRSV)

To be able to touch another person Jesus had to be human.

We also find that His body could bleed. On the cross, He bled when a Roman soldier thrust a spear into His side. John wrote,

One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out. (John 19:34 NLT)

Again, this is another sign of His true humanity. Only genuine humans can bleed.

Jesus Christ also had a spirit. Mark wrote,

At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8 NRSV)

Having a human spirit is another indication of His genuine humanity.

5. Jesus Was Given Human Titles

Human titles were ascribed to Jesus. They include the following.

A. Jesus Was the Last Adam

Jesus was called the last Adam. Paul the apostle wrote,

Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:45-47 NRSV)

Adam was the first human who was created perfect. Jesus was the last human being who was perfect humanity. Adam did not remain perfect while Jesus did.

B. Jesus Is the Mediator between God and Humanity

Jesus was called a mediator, or go-between, between God and humanity. Paul wrote about this to Timothy,

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human. (1 Timothy 2:5 NRSV)

To be a mediator Christ had to be a human.

6. He Was Called a Man

The New Testament also records Jesus calling Himself a man by Himself. Furthermore, others called Him a man.

A. Jesus Called Himself a Man

Jesus expressly called Himself a man. He said to the religious leaders,

But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. (John 8:40 NRSV)

Jesus never gave the impression that He was non-human in any way.

The New Testament writers recognized the humanity of Jesus. The apostles Peter, Paul, and John all emphasized the humanity of Jesus in their writings.

B. Peter Said Jesus Was a Man

On the Day of Pentecost Peter said the following about Jesus to a large crowd that had gathered:

Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. (Acts 2:22 HCSB)

According to Peter, Jesus was a genuine man.

C. Paul Taught That Jesus Was Human

The Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus’ humanity. In the introduction to his letter to the Romans we read the following:

This good news is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! As a human, he was from the family of David. But the Holy Spirit proved that Jesus is the powerful Son of God, because he was raised from death. (Romans 1:3-4 CEV)

Jesus came from the human line of David.

Later in his letter, Paul again wrote to the Romans how Christ was a human being:

What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering. (Romans 8:3 HCSB)

God sent His own sin in the flesh. In other words, He became a human being.

Paul wrote to Timothy about the mystery, or sacred secret, that had now been revealed about Christ appearing in a body:

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

The great mystery is that God became a human being.

D. John Taught That Jesus Was Human

John said that it was the false prophets that denied that Jesus came in the flesh, that He was a human being. We read the following in First John:

Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world. This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every person who declares that Jesus Christ has come as a human has the Spirit that is from God. But every person who doesn’t declare that Jesus Christ has come as a human has a spirit that isn’t from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that you have heard is coming. That spirit is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3 God’s Word)

Interestingly, they denied Jesus’ humanity, not His Deity. They could believe that He was God but not that He was genuinely human.

Elsewhere, John wrote about those deceivers. We read,

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist! (2 John 7 NRSV)

They rejected the fact that Jesus was actually human.

E. He Was an Uncommon Man

Those who came into contact with Jesus realized that He was an uncommon man but they also understood that He was a real or genuine man. When the religious leaders sent their officers to apprehend Jesus they came back empty handed. They explained it as follows:

When the temple police returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, they were asked, “Why didn’t you bring Jesus here?” They answered, “No one has ever spoken like that man!” (John 7:25-46 CEV).

Jesus spoke as no man has spoken either before or since.

His disciples recognized His uniqueness. When Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee they said,

And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41 NRSV)

Even though He had authority over nature, Jesus was still regarded as a man.

7. Jesus Showed All the Traits of a Human Being

Jesus demonstrated that He had all the traits of a human. We can give the following examples.

A. Jesus Was Tempted

Jesus was tempted by the devil. Matthew records it as follows:

Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1 God’s Word)

Only human beings can be tempted.

B. He Experienced Hunger

After His baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness. The Bible says that He became hungry:

After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. (Matthew 4:2 HCSB)

Here Jesus exhibits the human trait of hunger. Like other human beings, a long period without food made Him hungry.

C. Jesus Experienced Thirst

Jesus also experienced thirst while suffering on the cross. John records what occurred:

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28 NRSV)

This is another indication of Jesus’ humanity.

D. Jesus Ate and Drank with Others

Jesus ate and drank with others; mingling among humanity as a fellow human. We read the following in the Gospel of Matthew:

John the Baptist did not go around eating and drinking, and you said, “That man has a demon in him!” But the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, and you say, “That man eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what it does. (Matthew 11:18, 19 CEV)

He was able to participate in eating and drinking.

E. Jesus Became Tired

Early in His ministry, the Bible speaks of Jesus being tired from a long trip. John records the following took place:

Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. (John 4:6 NRSV)

The fact that He could become tired shows He was a genuine human.

F. Jesus Had To Sleep

We are also told that He needed sleep. Matthew wrote about Jesus falling asleep while on a boat sailing on the Sea of Galilee:

Suddenly, a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. (Matthew 8:24 NLT)

He had no special ability to stay awake all the time.

G. Jesus Asked Questions

Another indication of the humanity of Jesus is that He asked questions. Sometimes Jesus asked questions that were rhetorical. In other words, He was not expecting an answer. Other questions were intended to make His followers think. We read in Mark,

“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was very small.” (Mark 9:21 NLT)

There were some questions that were asked with a genuine desire to gather information. In the city of Bethany, Jesus asked the location of the tomb of Lazarus:

And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” (John 11:34 NKJV)

This shows His human nature was real.

H. Jesus Showed Human Emotions

Jesus also expressed human emotions such as tears, love, compassion, disappointment, and anger. For example, at the tomb of His dead friend Lazarus, Scripture records,“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). He also cried over the city of Jerusalem. Luke records,

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41 NIV)

He had human feelings that allowed Him to cry at a tragic situation.

Jesus Could Give and Receive Love

Like other human beings, Jesus could give and receive love. We are told that Jesus loved a certain ruler:

Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him. “You lack only one thing,” he told him. “Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me...” (Mark 10:21 NLT)

The trait of love is another indication of His humanity.

Jesus Expressed Compassion

Jesus could feel compassion for others. Matthew writes,

When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 HCSB)

The fact that Jesus could be moved with compassion when looking at the multitudes is further evidence of His true humanity.

Jesus Could Be Disappointed

Jesus could also experience disappointment. We read the following episode in Mark:

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. (Mark 11:12, 13 NKJV)

This incident further illustrates His humanity.

Jesus Became Angry

We also find that Jesus was angry for the way the religious rulers were corrupting the temple practices. John records His anger:

When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:15, 16 NKJV)

Anger is appropriate in certain situations. Jesus, in His humanity, showed godly anger.

Jesus Could Become Upset

The Bible says that Jesus was upset at the prospect of having the penalty for the sins of the world placed upon Him. John writes,

Now I am deeply troubled, and I don’t know what to say. But I must not ask my Father to keep me from this time of suffering. In fact, I came into the world to suffer. So Father, bring glory to yourself. (John 12:27, 28 CEV)

He could feel troubled.

Jesus was troubled by the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. We read in John’s gospel,

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me. (John 13:21 NRSV)

These various human emotions are further indications that His humanity was genuine.

I. Jesus, like Other Humans, Prayed

Only humans can pray to God. Jesus prayed often. The Bible says,

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. (Hebrews 5:7 NLT)

The fact that Jesus felt the need to pray shows He was indeed human.

J. Jesus Suffered Pain

Jesus suffered pain like other humans. Luke writes about His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane:

He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (Luke 22:44 NLT)

As a human Jesus suffered. The Romans flogged Him:

Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. (John 19:1 NLT)

This would have caused much physical pain. There is no evidence whatsoever, that God intervened so that Jesus would not experience the pain.

K. Jesus Experienced Death

Like other humans, He died. John writes,

When they came to Jesus, they did not break His legs since they saw that He was already dead. (John 19:33 HSCB)

If Jesus Christ were not a real human being, then His death on Calvary’s cross was merely an illusion. But Scripture emphasis that it was not illusory. He truly died.

The United Testimony of Scripture: Jesus Was Human

Thus, the Scriptures are united in their testimony to the genuine humanity of Jesus. There is never any indication given that He was somehow non-human. He experienced growth, hunger, tiredness, sadness and death, just as other human beings experience. He was not given any special immunity from these experiences.

This is important for us to realize. He was born, He lived, and He died, experiencing the same things we do. Therefore, He is able to identify with our feelings when we pray to the Father through Him. The writer to Hebrews said,

Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18 NRSV)

There was no special treatment given Jesus while here on earth. He felt the same things as every other human being feels.

The fact that Jesus’ humanity was real is made clear by the entire testimony of Scripture. The reality of the humanity of Jesus Christ is at the center of any true conception of who He is.

Summary – Question 4
Was Jesus a Human Being?

When we explore the subject of the humanity of Jesus, the Scripture is clear, Jesus was indeed human. He had all the traits that make up a human being except that He was without sin.

Like all other humans He was born into the world through a human birth. As was the custom with Jewish male children He was circumcised on the eighth day. Everything having to do with His birth indicates Jesus’ genuine humanity.

His genealogy consists entirely of human beings. In fact Jesus is linked to Adam, the first human.

In addition, the Old Testament predicted the coming Messiah would be human, like Moses. He would also be a physical descendant of King David. Jesus, as the Messiah, had to have been human.

From the four gospels we find that He had a family with four brothers, and at least two sisters. This is another indication of His human nature.

Jesus was a human child who grew to be a man. We find that He possessed the essential elements of humanity, a body and a spirit. As a man He was hungry, tired, and needed sleep. Jesus Himself, as well as others, admitted that He was human. Furthermore, Jesus showed human emotions such as love, tears, hate, disappointment and compassion. In all of this, there is not the slightest indication that Jesus was anything other than human.

Only humans can pray to God, and we find Jesus praying to God. This is further evidence of His true humanity.

Finally, we find that Jesus experienced pain, and death. This, of course, is something that humanity universally experiences.

Therefore, it is the united testimony of the New Testament that Jesus Christ was fully human. There is certainly no doubt about this.

According to the New Testament, Who Is Jesus? ← Prior Section
Does the New Testament Give Direct Evidence That Jesus Is God? Next Section →
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