|Study 8: The Nature of
Introduction | Differences Between God and Jesus | The Nature of Jesus | The Humanity of Jesus | The Relationship of God with Jesus | Digressions ("Being in the form of God") | Questions
8.3 The Nature Of Jesus
The word 'nature' refers to what we naturally, fundamentally are. We have shown in Study 1 that the Bible speaks of only two natures - that of God, and that of man. By nature God cannot die, be tempted etc. It is evident that Christ was not of God's nature during his life. He was therefore totally of human nature. From our definition of the word 'nature' it should be evident that Christ could not have had two natures simultaneously. It was vital that Christ was tempted like us (Heb. 4:15), so that through his perfect overcoming of temptation he could gain forgiveness for us. The wrong desires which are the basis of our temptations come from within us (Mark 7:15-23), from within our human nature (James 1:13-15). It was necessary, therefore, that Christ should be of human nature so that he could experience and overcome these temptations.
Hebrews 2:14-18 puts all this in so many words:
This passage places extraordinary emphasis upon the fact that Jesus had human nature: "He also himself likewise" partook of it (Heb. 2:14). This phrase uses three words all with the same meaning, just to drive the point home. He partook "of the same" nature; the record could have said 'he partook of IT too', but it stresses, "he partook of the same". Heb. 2:16 similarly labours the point that Christ did not have angels' nature, seeing that he was the seed of Abraham, who had come to bring salvation for the multitude of believers who would become Abraham's seed. Because of this, it was necessary for Christ to have human nature. In every way he had "to be made like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2:17) so that God could grant us forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice. To say that Jesus was not totally of human nature is therefore to be ignorant of the very basics of the good news of Christ.
Whenever baptized believers sin, they can come to God, confessing their sin in prayer through Christ (1 John 1:9); God is aware that Christ was tempted to sin exactly as they are, but that he was perfect, overcoming that very temptation which they fail. Because of this, "God for Christ's sake" can forgive us (Eph. 4:32). It is therefore vital to appreciate how Christ was tempted just like us, and needed to have our nature for this to be possible. Heb. 2:14 clearly states that Christ had "flesh and blood" nature to make this possible. "God is Spirit" (John 4:24) by nature and although He has a material body, as "Spirit" He does not have flesh and blood. Christ having "flesh" nature means that in no way did he have God's nature during his lifetime.
Previous attempts by men to keep God's word, i.e. to totally overcome temptation, had all failed. Therefore "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and by a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3 A.V. mg.).
"Sin" refers to the natural proneness to sin which we have by nature. We have given way to this already, and continue to do so, and "the wages of sin is death". To get out of this predicament, man needed outside help. He himself seemed incapable of perfection; it was and is not within flesh to redeem the flesh. God therefore intervened and gave us His own Son, who had our "sinful flesh", with all the promptings to sin which we have. Unlike every other man, Christ overcame every temptation, although he had the possibility of failure and sinning just as much as we do. Rom. 8:3 describes Christ's human nature as "sinful flesh". A few verses earlier, Paul spoke of how in the flesh "dwelleth no good thing", and how the flesh naturally militates against obedience to God (Rom. 7:18-23). In this context it is all the more marvellous to read that Christ had "sinful flesh" in Rom. 8:3. It was because of this, and his overcoming of that flesh, that we have a way of escape from our flesh; Jesus was intensely aware of the sinfulness of his own nature. He was once addressed as "Good master", with the implication that he was "good" and perfect by nature. He responded: "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God" (Mark 10:17,18). On another occasion, men started to testify of Christ's greatness due to a series of outstanding miracles which he had performed. Jesus did not capitalize on this "because he knew all, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man" (John 2:23-25, Greek text). Because of his great knowledge of human nature ("he knew all" about this), Christ did not want men to praise him personally in his own right, seeing that he knew how evil his own human nature was.