A Human Being Like Ourselves

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Perhaps it may be well explicitly to note that our Lord’s emotions fulfilled themselves, as ours do, in physical reactions. He who hungered (Mt. iv.2), thirsted (Jno. xix. 20), was weary (Jno. iv. 6), who knew both physical pain and pleasure, expressed also in bodily affections the emotions that stirred his soul. That he did so is sufficiently evinced by the simple circumstance that these emotions were observed and recorded. But the bodily expression of the emotions is also frequently expressly attested.Not only do we read that he wept (Jno. xi. 35) and wailed (Lk. xix. 41),sighed (Mk. vii. 34) and groaned (Mk. viii. 12) ; but we read also of his angry glare (Mk. iii. 5), his annoyed speech (Mk. x. 14), his chiding words(e. g. Mk. iii. 12), the outbreaking ebullition of his rage (e.g. Jno. xi. 33,38) ; of the agitation of his bearing when under strong feeling (Jno. xi.35), the open exultation of his joy (Lk. x. 21), the unrest of his movements in the face of anticipated evils (Mt. xxvii. 37), the loud cry which was wrung from him in his moment of desolation (Mt. xxvii. 46). Nothing is lacking to make the impression strong that we have before us in Jesus a human being like ourselves.

B. B. Warfield, The Emotional Life of Our Lord, p. 96-97

Christians believe Jesus was (and is) fully human and fully divine.

This teaching was clarified and affirmed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. As noted in this article, the Chalcedonian Definition is not a confession or creed, but is, rather, an explanation or commentary on a series of terms appearing in the Nicene Creed, detailing for us how the Nicene Creed should be understood with regard to Jesus’ nature and essence.

When Christians says the Son came down from heaven in the incarnation and was born as a human being, what does this mean for his divinity? And what does his divinity mean for his humanity?

These were challenging questions for the early church. They remain challenging questions for us today. But, as then, so now; these questions remain relevant. In his humanity, Jesus identified fully with us. In his divinity, Jesus accomplished for us what we could not accomplish for ourselves.

B. B. Warfield’s essay The Emotional Life of Our Lord examines the witness of the Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and shows us the ways in which Jesus displayed emotion, that he was “a human being like ourselves.”

In my pastoral ministry experience, I have found that it is common for those inside the church to easily see Jesus as divine, but to be reticent to understand him as a human being, like us.

And with those outside the church, I have found that people are compelled by and interested in Jesus as a human being, but are very hesitant to believe that he was and is divine, worthy of our adoration and worship.

Jesus fulfilled the Law by keeping it perfectly, and by paying the penalty for its transgression as our substitute.

Jesus was (and is) both fully human and fully divine.

Warfield’s entire essay can be read here.