Did Jesus Have a Nature Like Ours?
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2005|
|Is Jesus a liar, a hypocrite, afraid of everything, who never tells the truth, who doesn’t even have the courage to do so, who has a desire to commit fornication with women, who exhibits pride, who is willing to steal, fight and kill but does not do so because He is afraid? Compare that Jesus with the one described in the Bible and the church creeds.|
The movie The Last Temptation of Christ, like many other Hollywood and literary offerings, paints a picture of Jesus far different from what we find in the Bible. We are examining some of the false charges made in the movie and in the book upon which it was based: Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ (1960).
The setting: Jesus is in the desert among a sparse community of ascetics. He is walking along a cliff with a member of the community and says:
- Jesus: You think it’s a blessing to know what God wants? I’ll tell you what He wants; He wants to push me over [the cliff—Jesus is implying God wants Him to die]. Can’t you see what’s inside of me? My sins.
- Man: We all sin.
- Jesus: Not my sins. I’m a liar, a hypocrite; I’m afraid of everything. I don’t ever tell the truth, I don’t have the courage. When I see a woman I blush and look away. I want to, but I don’t take her—for God—and that makes me proud. And then my pride [ruins?] Magdalene. I don’t steal, I don’t fight, I don’t kill—not because I don’t want to—but because I’m afraid. I want to rebel against you, against everything, against God, but I’m afraid. You want to know who my mother and father is? You want to know who my God is? Fear! You look inside me and that’s all you’ll find.
Christians object to this blasphemous portrait of a Jesus who admits He is a liar, a hypocrite, afraid of everything, who never tells the truth, who doesn’t even have the courage to do so, who has a desire to commit fornication with women, who exhibits pride, who is willing to steal, fight and kill but does not do so because He is afraid.
This is a false Jesus who admits He has a desire to rebel against people,against everything, even against God. The only reason He doesn’t do so is because He is a coward. He says fear is both His God and His parents. He says, “Look inside of me and all you will find is fear.”
This is what blasphemy is all about. The root meaning of the word blasphemy is “an act of effrontery in which the honor of God is insulted by man.”
Did Jesus have a nature just like us?
The Orthodox doctrine, promulgated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. says that, “… in the one person, Jesus Christ, there are two natures, a human nature and a divine nature, each in its completeness and integrity, and that these two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that no third nature is formed thereby. In brief… orthodox doctrine forbids us to either divide the person or to confound the natures.”
Most people have heard that Jesus was fully God. But He was also fully man, fully human. Though His conception was supernatural, Jesus’ birth was that of a normal child born of a human mother (Matt. 1:18). As a normal child, Jesus grew physically and mentally. The Bible says, “And the child continued to grow, and became strong, increasing in wisdom…. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk. 2:40,52).
Jesus referred to Himself as a man: “You are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth” (Jn. 8:40).
Paul Little has succinctly summarized why we must conclude Jesus was fully human. He stated:
- Jesus got hungry (Matthew 4:2) and thirsty (John 19:28). His feet ached and He got weary from traveling (John 4:6). He needed sleep and refreshment (Matthew 8:24). He experienced and expressed love and compassion (Matthew 9:36). He was angry at those who defiled His Father’s house (Matthew 21:13) and who deliberately refused the truth of God (Mark 3:5). He wept at the tomb of a dear friend (John 11:35), and as He faced the agony of the cross, He was troubled within (John 12:27).
Christ’s humanity was as real and genuine as His deity. Both must be maintained and neither may be emphasized at the expense of the other.
But even though Jesus was as human as we are, His nature was:
- Free both from hereditary depravity, and from actual sin; as is shown by his never offering sacrifice, never praying for [His own] forgiveness, teaching that all but he needed the new birth, challenging all to convict him of a single sin.
- Ralph P. Martin in J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), p. 159.
- As summarized by Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1976), p. 673. See also Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), pp. 29-34.
- Paul Little, Know What You Believe (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1970), p. 48.
- Strong, op. cit., p. 676.