The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ, Bruce Ware

This short little book is packed full of information about the humanity of Christ, as seen in the title. It may be short, but it certainly is edifying and very informative into the person Jesus.

The book begins with an explanation of just what the “emptying” of Christ was. This means that Dr. Ware exposits a section of Philippians 2, which says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” The implications of this are huge and some have gotten it totally wrong. The kenosis was a theory that Jesus empty the entirety of His divine nature, which must be rejected and is not what this passage is teaching. Rather, Jesus retained His divinity but in certain circumstances, He chose not to exercise it. This is crucial when understanding the humanity of Christ.

Next, the proceeding chapters speak about the humanity of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. When we think of Jesus’ divine nature, we understand that He was 100% God and 100% man. The divine nature obviously needed nothing: He didn’t need to grow in wisdom in HIs divine nature because the divine is already perfect. But the man.. this is a different story. Chapter 2 speaks on how the Holy Spirit empowered the man, Jesus Christ. Chapter 3 talks about how the Spirit empowered Him to grow in wisdom. Likewise, chapter 4 speaks on how Jesus grew in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. You sense a theme here?

Chapter 5 is about temptation. This was a very interesting chapter. Because Hebrews 4:15 says, “For 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.” But you may say, “Well yea, but Jesus had His divine side so He couldn’t really have been tempted because there was no possibility the divine nature would LET him sin.” You see the problem. Dr. Ware uses this illustration that is very helpful: imagine you are a swimmer who is training for a long swim. As you are training, you begin to get better and better until the day of the race. As a precaution, you ask a boat to row beside just in case the unlikely scenario of you drowning occurs. As the race begins, you swim and swim under your own power while the boat cruises along next to you, just in case anything takes a wrong direction. This is like the temptation of Christ. He grew in faith, grew in wisdom in His humanity by the Spirit. While the Spirit empowered Him, He was able to say no to temptation in His full humanity. But His divine side wouldn’t let Him sin. This erases some the tension there is in the temptation of Christ.

Chapter 6 talks about how in recent years, liberal scholars have tried to argue that Jesus could have been a woman. This argument extends from the NIV’s controversial decision to make some of the pronouns used for Jesus as neutral, which would give the possibility that Jesus could have been a man or a woman. Dr. Ware utilizes 12 arguments to say that Jesus must be a man. Chapter 7 is the substitution of Christ. One interesting point that he makes is people sometimes ask why the second Adam just couldn’t have been empowered by the Spirit to not sin and die for our sins. So, take away the divinity of the second Adam. Dr. Ware says that the punishment for sin is eternal, so only an eternal agent can be a proper substitution which is an interesting thought. Lastly, Chapter 8 focuses on the Raised, Reigning, and Return of Christ.

Like I said.. Packed with information. What is helpful about. Dr. Ware’s book too is that he includes an application section at the end of each chapter with discussion questions. This would be particularly helpful in the event you wanted to work through it as a group or in a Bible study. Great, short book that will challenge you.

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