Jesus Christ: Son of God, Son of Man
by Archbishop Dmitri
Just as Holy Scripture teaches the doctrine of the divine nature of Jesus Christ, it teaches equally the doctrine of His human nature. It does so in the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, in the genealogies of the New Testament, in the narratives of His birth, in the whole Gospel story of His earthly life, in the names given to Him, in the references in the Gospels and elsewhere to His real human body with all its properties and functions, and in the fact that the Gospel attributes to Him the other part of human nature, namely the soul or spirit, with its qualities and feelings.
Thus, while He was still an infant, His mother and Joseph had to flee into Egypt in order to escape the decree of Herod that all male children under the age of two be killed. (Mt. 2:13,14) As a son He was subject to Mary and Joseph. (Lk. 2:51) He grew normally "and waxed strong in spirit..." (Lk. 2:40) Then He "was baptized of John in Jordan," (Mk. 1:9), as indeed other men and women were doing.
We see Him later, once having entered into His ministry, going about the cities and villages with the proclamation of salvation, being recognized everywhere as a real man. We see Him take part in celebrations, such as the feast in the house of Levi (Lk. 5:29), the wedding in Cana of Galilee (Jn. 2:1-11), at a supper in the house of Lazarus (Jn. 12:2), and in the house of Zacchaeus (Lk. 19:5-8). Again, He went to Jerusalem for the Paschal feast, celebrating Pascha with His disciples according to the law. (Mt. 26:17 ff.)
Finally, the Evangelists depict in great detail Christ's sufferings, sufferings which were real and not just in appearance. He was slapped on the face (Jn. 18:22), He was spat upon (Mk. 14:65), He was whipped (Jn. 19;1) and made to carry His own cross (Jn. 19:17)
Once crucified, Christ thirsted (Jn. 19:28), He groaned in agony and then ultimately He died (Lk. 23:46). St. John notes that blood and water issued forth from the dead Body, thereby obviating the need of breaking Christ's legs to hasten His death. (Jn. 19:33,34)
Then too, the burial of the Lord is described in detail, showing its necessity and conformity to Jewish practice. (Jn. 19:38-42) His Body was anointed, wrapped in a shroud, and buried, indeed as any other human body.
The Resurrection accounts themselves pay close attention to physical aspects. The stone itself had been moved (Jn. 20:1) and the grave clothes left there in the tomb (Jn. 20:6,7). Far from being a trivial recounting of something incidental, these details precisely indicate the physical and, therefore, human aspects of the Resurrection.
In other words, the Evangelists go to great lengths to demonstrate that it was not merely Christ's "spirit" which was lingering on, but that indeed it was His human body which had been resurrected. (Lk. 24:38-40) That Christ as a man was risen was also underscored by the fact that He ate with His disciples several times after He rose from the dead. (Lk. 24:30,41,42)
The ascension into heaven occurs after one of these occasions wherein the resurrected Lord has eaten with His disciples. (Lk. 24:36ff.; Jn. 21) Christ continues to teach them as He did prior to His death, but now the disciples have understanding. (Lk. 24:45) Then He is taken up into heaven; He does not simply disappear or go off by Himself. His Body itself, a physical, human body is raised from the earth while the eleven remaining apostles witness its ascension. (Lk. 24:51,52a)
The Names Jesus
In the Scriptures, certain names of Jesus are given to indicate His humanity, as well. For example, He calls Himself "a man" as He speaks to the Jews on a given occasion. "Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard from God..." (Jn. 8:40)
Again, He often called Himself the "Son of man." "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." (Mt. 8:20) "And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things ... and be killed, and after three days rise again." (Mk. 8:31)
The Apostles themselves emphasize His human nature, calling Him "the man." "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." (I Tm. 2:5) "Because [God] hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained ..." (Acts 17:31) And finally, St. Paul calls Him the "last for second] Adam." (Cor. 15:45,47)
References to Christ Having a Real Human Body
Holy Scripture makes consistent and ample reference to Christ's body having all the functions and properties of a human body.
Thus, He was circumcised, following the Law (Lk. 2:21); He had need of food and drink (Mt. 4:2; 21:18; Lk. 4:2; Jn. 19:28); He became tired (Jn. 4:6); He needed rest and sleep (Mk. 4:38); He was subject to pain and anguish (Lk. 22:41-44); and He suffered death, was buried, and rose again (Mt. 27:40-61; 28:6)
Once, when Jesus was in the house of Simon the Leper, a woman came to anoint Him. Jesus said, "She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying." (Mk. 14:8)
St. Peter would write later that it was Jesus who "bare our sins in His own body on the tree." (I Pt. 2:24)
And St. Matthew recorded that after His death, Joseph of Arimathea "went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus." "Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered, and when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock." (27:58-60)
Yet even more striking are the words of Jesus to His terrified disciples, when He appeared to them after His resurrection, His body having been already glorified: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Lk. 24:39) And in another appearance after His resurrection, He said to Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (Jn. 20:27)
Christ's Soul: Its Qualities and Feelings
As the time for His betrayal approached, the Lord said to Peter and the two sons of Zebedee in the garden of Gethsemane, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death..." (Mt. 26:38) Here, the soul, or spirit, of Christ is shown as having feelings common to all human nature.
St. Matthew and St. John both describe the crucifixion thus. Christ cried out in a loud voice and "yielded up the spirit." (Mt. 27:50; Jn. 19:30) St. Luke adds the fact that Christ commended His spirit into His Father's hands. (23:46)
Likewise Holy Scripture attributes human reason, wisdom, and intelligence to Christ: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature..." (Lk. 2:52) and "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom," (Lk.2:40).
Furthermore, Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane shows that He had human will: "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." (Lk. 22:42; see also, Mt. 26: 39)
Jesus also had the qualities and feelings of the soul. Thus, He "rejoiced in spirit." (Lk. 10:21) Hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus, He "groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." (Jn. 11:33; see also Jn. 12:27 and 13:21) He showed a special love for children, and He was displeased with those who forbade them to come to Him. (Mk. 10:13,14) He was even angry with those who misused the house of God, as we see when He drove the money-changers out. (Jn. 2:14-17; Mt. 21:12,13) Finally, He became sad and afflicted at the idea of suffering and death. (Mt. 26:37,38; Lk. 22:42-45) In Hebrews 5:7, we read: "in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared."
Hence, the doctrine of Christ's human nature can be stated quite simply. Since Jesus Christ is perfect God, He is consubstantial (of the same essence) with the Father in His divine nature. He is likewise perfect man and consubtantial with us men, in His human nature, as the Son of the Most Holy Virgin.
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hb. 4:15)
From The Doctrine Of Christ, A LAYMAN'S HANDBOOK By Archbishop Dmitri