Read Part 1.
by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D
We have already contemplated the stupendous miracle of the incarnation of God’s Son by virgin conception. By this absolutely unique act, He became the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5, KJV).
This is the only way He could give “himself a ransom for all” (v. 6). Only by becoming a 100 percent member of the human race could He be our representative, our substitute, our kinsman-redeemer (Hebrew—goel) on the cross. “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation [i.e., expiation, the full removal of sin] for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).
During the 33 years our Lord walked on the earth, no one really doubted that He was a genuine human being. The overwhelming question was His deity. Even the apostles struggled with this issue from time to time (i.e., John 16:29-33). His enemies hurled this accusation at Him as they prepared to stone Him: “Thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).
But the major question Christians must now resolve concerning Him is this: does our Lord Jesus Christ possess a genuine human body today and even forever? When He rose from the dead on the third day, was He still fully human as well as fully divine? Or did He simply appear to be human just as He did on various occasions in the Old Testament?
Beginning at the Garden of Eden, our Lord, as the second person of the triune Godhead, appeared as a human being. Adam “heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden” and heard Him ask, “Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8, 9).
On another occasion, Abraham saw “three men” near his tent in Mamre. One of them was the pre-incarnate Christ, who not only looked fully human but also ate a meal prepared by Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1-8).
But these were theophanies (God appearances), not incarnations! Amazingly, during one unforgettable night, our Lord not only looked human but even felt human. Jacob could testify to this fact after wrestling with Him by the River Jabbok for hours until he finally surrendered to his gracious and sovereign Lord (see Gen. 32:24-32 and Hos. 12:4).
And are we aware of the fact that even angels could appear like men? The most spectacular example of this appearance occurred when two angels sat down with the pre-incarnate Christ to share a meal while Abraham stood by and watched (Gen. 18:1-8; cf. Heb. 13:2). A little later, these angels appeared to Lot in the gate of Sodom and accepted his urgent invitation to spend the night in his home (Gen. 19:1-3). Others in Sodom also saw them and assumed that they were real men (Gen. 19:4-5). But these angels, who temporarily looked and acted like human beings, were not genuine members of the human race and therefore were not men.
In like manner, in His Old Testament theophanies, the Son of God did not become a genuine, full participant in Adam’s race. Thus, He did not fully identify genetically (in DNA coding) with Adam and Eve. Furthermore, as we shall see, without the distinctive physical features of a human person, no one would have been able to recognize His face, eyes, or voice from previous appearances.
By contrast, note how carefully the inspired text of the New Testament illumines the recognizable continuity of His resurrection body with His previous, non-glorified body.
First, on the morning of His resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and said to her, “Mary!” She immediately recognized His voice, and replied (in Hebrew): “Rabboni” (John 20:16). This is significant. His human voice had not changed. Therefore, His glorified body was identical, to this extent, with the body He possessed until His death.
Second, He appeared to the 11 apostles later that day, pointed to the nail prints in His hands and feet, and explained that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). It was not just the possession of a human body. It was the same body He had before He died! Not just His voice but also His entire body maintained total identification with the human nature of the Jesus of Nazareth who was conceived in the body of Mary, born in Bethlehem, and grew to full manhood and ministry for a third of a century.
| Dr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.