This is part 2 of 4 on the incarnation. Part One: What Is the Incarnation?
Jesus has a human body, emotions, mind, and will. And this in no way compromises his deity.
When the Word became flesh—when the eternal Son of God took on humanity—he did not merely become a man in part. He fully became a true human being.
Jesus’ Human Body
It is clear enough from the New Testament that Jesus has a human body. John 1:14: “The Word became flesh.” Jesus’ humanity is one of the first tests of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). Jesus was born (Luke 2:7). He grew (Luke 2:40, 52). He grew tired (John 4:6) and got thirsty (John 19:28). He got hungry (Matthew 4:2) and was physically weak (Matthew 4:11; Luke 23:26). He died (Luke 23:46). And he had a real human body after his resurrection (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27).
Jesus’ Human Emotions
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus clearly displays human emotions. When Jesus heard the centurion’s words of faith, “he marveled” (Matthew 8:10). He says in Matthew 26:38 that his “soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” In John 11:33-35, Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and even weeps. John 12:27 says, “Now is my soul troubled,” and in John 13:21, he is “troubled in his spirit.” The author to the Hebrews writes that “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) John Calvin memorably summed it up: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.”
Jesus’ Human Mind
Jesus also has a human mind. Two key texts make this undeniable:
- Luke 2:52: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
- Mark 13:32: “Concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The second verse, of course, is striking. For Christians who clearly affirm Jesus’ deity, Mark 13:32 seems like trouble. But what looks difficult at first glance proves to be a glorious confirmation of Jesus’ humanity and a very helpful piece in formulating our Christology.
If Jesus is God and God knows everything, how can Jesus not know when his second coming will be?
In addition to being fully divine, Jesus is fully human. He has both an infinite, divine mind and a finite, human mind. He can be said not to know things because he is human and finite—human minds are not omniscient. And Jesus can be said to know all things (John 21:17) because he is divine and infinite in his knowledge.
Paradoxical as it is, we must affirm that Jesus both knows all things and doesn’t know all things. For the unique, two-natured person of Christ, this is no contradiction but a peculiar glory of the God-man.
Jesus’ Human Will
Now, trickiest of all, Jesus not only has a divine will but also a human will. Two wills—one divine and one human. Two key texts mention his human will:
- John 6:38: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
- Matthew 26:39: “Not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus has an infinite, divine will that he shares with his Father. And he has a finite, human will that, while being an authentic human will, is perfectly in sync with and submissive to the divine will.
This Jesus is a spectacular person! Fully God. Fully man. He is utterly unique. There is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
Fully Divine, Fully Human
Jesus is like us in every respect—human body, heart, mind, and will—except for sin (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15).
How amazing that the divine Son of God would not just take on part of our humanity but all of it—and then take that true humanity all the way to the cross for us.
Jesus took a human body to save our bodies. And he took a human mind to save our minds. Without becoming man in his emotions, he could not have saved our emotions. And without taking a human will, he could not save our will. In the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”
He became man in full so that he might save us in full. Hallelujah! What a marvelous Savior!
For more Christmas reflections on the person of Christ —