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The Humanity Of Christ PDF Print E-mail
Written by John R. Respess   


Butler, Ga., February 1894

0 Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest the them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.--Matt. xxiii.

Christ's two-fold nature is a great mystery. The Scriptures declare it a great mystery (1 Tim. iii. 16). Reason and science cannot solve it; it is hid from the very princes of worldly wisdom (1 Cor. ii. 8). Christ was man and he was God---ONE PERSON with two natures---the nature of God and the nature of man. It is a mystery so profound that science and human reason fall down before it as the band of men and officers fell backward to the ground before Christ (John xviii.)

But mystery as it is, it is an essential truth--one so much so that our hope of eternal salvation, nay that very salvation itself, would forever perish without it. He was a man, but his humanity was sacred; he was not defiled and depraved by sin as we are; but nevertheless he was a man, and not an angel, "but was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death."

As a man, he was born as other men; he was born a helpless little babe, and was swaddled as other children; hungered and was nursed at his mother's breast, and slept, and was carried in his mother's arms, as other helpless children are he learned to walk and talk as others, and grew "and increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."---Luke ii. And it is certain, therefore, that as a man he knew more when he grew to manhood than he did as a babe, or as a little boy at his mother's knee. It is written that he even learned obedience by the things he suffered; not that he was ever disobedient, but that he had a human soul, and therefore a human will, but not a sinful will, but still a human one. So that he cried out in great agony to the Father that if possible the cup might pass from him, nevertheless not MY will but thine (thy will) be done, he submissively prayed. There was nothing in his mere human appearance indicating that he was more than other men. Men who were in daily contact with him saw him only as a man; and only those whose eyes God had opened, saw him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. In this way the apostles saw him, while others saw in him, only and no more, than Jeremias or Elias, or one of the prophets. And Jesus told his disciples that they were blessed, for that flesh and blood had not revealed it unto them, but the Father in heaven. In the same wonderful way he was revealed to Simeon and Anna, in the temple, as the "Lord's Christ." But to the unregenerate he was without form or comeliness, with no beauty in him that they desired him. Only those who had been humbled by grace could receive him then, and the same is true to this day, and will always be true.

He was born in a manger--nothing in that to build up the pride and vanity of the human heart--in Bethlehem, but was brought up to thirty years of age in Nazareth, a village in the hills of lower Galilee. He had no schooling that we know of, save what he got in the family circle, and maybe in hearing the Scriptures read on the Sabbath day in the Synagogue. But he grew in wisdom as well as in stature; and at twelve years of age his answers and questions in the temple at Jerusalem astonished the doctors. His parents went yearly to Jerusalem to the Passover, and carried the lad Jesus with them that time at least; and it seems that at that time Jesus felt a call, at least to some degree, to the work that he came to do, for he said to his mother, who had returned to Jerusalem for him, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" But he went down with them to Nazareth, "and was subject to them."---Luke ii.

There is nothing else recorded of him until he was thirty years old, and was baptized and entered upon the work of his ministry. But though it is not written, we know that lie was in daily communion with his Father; that he probably spent many nights in the hills of Galilee in prayer. We know this from his practice and from his teaching; for he did not come forth as a Teacher sent from God without having received the words that the Father gave him to give to his people. He came as a teacher not from the feet of Gamaliel, or the schools of men, but from the school of the Father, so that he entered upon his work fully equipped of God.

As a man, he was a Jew, and in the flesh was related to the Jews as a kinsman, and had, as is natural, that peculiar attachment for them that all men have for their kinfolks, The Jews were a nation of kinfolks; a people that had from the beginning kept themselves pure in blood from all other people. Abraham was particular that Isaac should not intermarry with other people, and so was Isaac and Jacob, and in fact it was a law among them from the beginning of their history, and has been for thousands of years, and it is true to this day, that the Jews are and have been a people that have literally "dwelt alone and not been reckoned among the nations." ---Gen, xxiv., xxvii, and xxviii.

Their natural ties, therefore, as a people, were very strong, fostered as they had been for ages by unity of blood, of government and worship, and it is no wonder that these ties became intensified to a degree unknown to any other people on earth. Christ was born of this people probably a score of centuries after Abraham, and spent his life among them, thirty years of it in serving his parents as an obedient son. And his parents being pious Jews, he no doubt heard from infancy more or less of Jewish history; for living the retired life they did, it was no doubt their chief delight to talk of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; of the hard bondage of Egypt, the exodus, the Red Sea, the wilderness, the manna, the law written on tables of stone, the pillars of cloud and of fire, and in short, of the whole history of this peculiar people, so that it may be said that Jesus, like Timothy, knew Jewish history from a child.

Jesus loved the Jews as his family, and especially did he sympathize with them in their poverty, for his parents were poor and he knew by experience the privations and hardships of the poor; and they were especially severe in his day, for the Romans had subjugated them, and they were plundered by merciless foreign tax-gatherers, and foreign soldiers were quartered upon them; and worse than all their own rulers and priests, who should have sympathized with and relieved them all they could, added to their burdens, corrupting more and more their already decaying religion. The outlook was gloomy, but bad as it was then, it would be worse, and Jesus knew it, and it grieved his pure and tender heart. For Jerusalem was to him the city of God, and its temple the Father's house, so that it roused his holy indignation to see it desecrated by greedy and hypocritical priests, and at one time he drove the greedy hucksters out of the temple with a whip. He knew how his poor, misguided kinsmen were led and had been led by them for ages, and how at last it would end in the destruction of the city and temple, and of their own lives. And it grieved him—grieved him so much that. he wept; and only one other time is it recorded of him that he ever became so moved as to weep. Weeping, he cried out: "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy people but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave within thee one stone upon another; because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation."--Luke xix. In the same spirit he cried out, "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them sent unto thee, how often would l have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" So great had been and was their infatuation under false teachers, that their danger was hid from their eyes; they could not see it, but still in the face of all the afflictions brought upon them by departures from God, they would not hear the warning of Jesus, and be saved from the danger impending over them.

I do not say anything of what had to be, for that does not concern our subject, but only that willingness in Jesus to save them from the fate awaiting the course they were pursuing, and had been pursuing for many years; that is the subject we are dealing with. It was the love that he had for them as his flesh and blood, like the love that Abraham had for his son Ishmael (Gen. xxi.), and David had for Absalom (2 Sam. xviii.), and Paul had for the Jews (Rom. ix.) But Abraham had another love for Isaac, but the same fleshly love for Ishmael that he had for Isaac, but a love for Isaac that he did not have for Ishmael. We have the same fleshly love for ail our children, but for those of them that are regenerate we have a spiritual love that we cannot have for the unregenerate of them---and we are therefore related to the regenerate of them in a sense in which we are not related to the unregenerate of them. So was Christ related to his true disciples in a way that he was not related to other Jews; but he loved them, and it grieved him as a Jew to see what was coming upon them. For God has a care for all his creatures, as creatures, and holds them responsible for their conduct.--Acts xiv. and xvii., 30-31.

I say nothing now of the last verse, which may be a prophesy of the return of the Jews, and would refer to Rom. xi. as perhaps having reference to the time when the elect Jews should say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

This article is written at the request of Bro. G. B. Bateman, of Nebraska, and I am sadly conscious of its great imperfection; and I may have a wrong view of it, but I am willing to exchange it for a better one. It will be seen that I have treated of Christ almost altogether as a man, as the subject seemed to me to relate to him mainly in that sense. Pray for me.--R.

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