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  • Writer's pictureDon Walker

The Son of Man

Recently, while teaching through the first epistle of John, I was once again struck by the importance that John, and the other New Testament writers, place on Jesus' humanity. The Gnostic error that John confronts is that of "docetism," a term derived from the Greek word meaning "to appear." The docetists stated that Jesus only "appeared to be a man." John even refers to this error as "the spirit of the Antichrist" (See I John 4:2-3).

I find it interesting that in our day, we who defend the divinity of Christ, do not seem to place equal importance on defending Christ's humanity. Yet, the message of the Incarnation is about God becoming fully Man. Though Jesus did not cease being fully God, He became fully Man.

The title by which Jesus most often referred to Himself by was "the Son of Man" (a Messianic title first used in Daniel 7:13). By this title He was identifying Himself with Adam and consequently with all of humanity. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon Himself a human nature, becoming clothed with flesh and became the Son of Man. He did this not only for the purpose of becoming our redeeming substitute, bearing the wrath of God the Father, thus paying the penalty for Man's sin, but to reveal what it means to be truly human. He shows us what it means to be human in the way God originally intended. Humanity apart from the Fall.

Only recently did I grasp the importance of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan river. John's baptism was a baptism of repentance, yet Jesus had nothing to repent of. He was the sinless Son of God. Why then did Jesus insist on John baptizing Him? Because baptism is an act of identification. When we are baptized we are identifying with Christ (Rom. 6:1-14). Likewise, through baptism Jesus identified with us. He who was unfallen, identified with our fallenness.

Hebrews 4:15 tells that, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." This means that the One who sits in heaven at the right hand of the Father, fully identifies and understands, what it means to live in this fallen world. He is in touch with our reality.

Therefore, let us remember in this Christmas season that He is truly the Son of God and truly the Son of Man.

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