Sunday, September 18, 2011

Matthew 26:39, The True Humanity of Christ

"And going a little farther He fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'"

Early in the Second Century, immediately following the time of the Apostles, a heresy arose called Docetism. The Docetists held that the human body of Christ was an illusion, since (they claimed) the divine cannot possibly be united with flesh. This was a particular variant of Gnosticism. We really don't see this heresy around much, though aspects of it pop up here and there. For example, Sabellians (represented mainly by the United Pentecostal Church) deny the Trinity, claiming that the three persons are actually merely modes of the one God. Since they hold that there is no Second Person of the Trinity, then obviously He could not have been united with a human nature. And Jehovah's Witnesses claim that the resurrection was only spiritual, not a literal resurrection of the flesh of Jesus. While neither of these is strictly Docetism, there are obvious parallels.

However, consider the Scripture above. We see Jesus showing true fear, real human emotion, in the face of His impending suffering and death. Trepidation cannot be a quality of His divine nature. Therefore, we see experiential evidence of His true humanity. He was a man, regardless of what Sabellians or Docetists can protest. And as a true man, in addition to His true divinity, Jesus can therefore sympathize with our own fears and sufferings (Hebrews 4:15). That is great personal comfort that we can take from the high theology of the dual nature of Christ!

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