Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why Did Christ Have to Live as a Man?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus Christ didn't descend out of Heaven Friday afternoon and get crucified Friday night? God certainly could have worked that out providentially or even miraculously if He so chose, so why did Christ live as a man for 33+ years? Why not just spare Himself the agony of humanity? What benefit to Him was there to condescend and take on flesh?

The Christmas season gives us a great opportunity to deeply reflect upon Christ's humanity. Our tendency, if we ever surpass the shallowness of Christmas, is to stop at the incarnation of God's Son. We leave Jesus in the manger asleep on the hay and then maybe think about salvation and the Cross. We maybe recognize the counter-intuitiveness of the King of Kings being born in such a humble way. Perhaps we also think about the hypostatic union and that Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. But why did Jesus begin His earthly existence at birth instead of closer to the time of His crucifixion and effective atonement?

First, let's acknowledge that He had to live the whole time that He did. How do I know this? Because that's what He did. It's quite simple. If Jesus did not have to live a full life as a human being, then He wouldn't have. If He could have just come to Earth on Friday and died and accomplished His mission to "seek and save the lost," then He would have done it that way. So clearly and irrefutably He must have needed to live a life as a man.

Let's examine some Bible passages that indicate Christ's mission to see why He needed to live as long as He did. 

Luke 19:10 - For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  
Matthew 20:28 - ...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
How much of that could He have accomplished on that Friday? Only the parts pertaining to the crucifixion and the atonement of sins, right? Jesus would have still been perfect and without sin. So, theoretically, He would have still cleansed us from our sins. 

The problem we're having, though, is the issue of righteousness. Where does our righteousness come from? On what basis does God look at anyone who is redeemed and call them righteous without God Himself being a liar? Jesus. He looks at the believer and sees Jesus. He looks at the human believer and credits the human believer with the righteousness of the only human who ever was truly good and righteous. 

God imputes the righteous LIFE lived by Jesus - from the time He was born til the time of his death- to the believer. If Christ merely came on Friday and died, then the righteousness we would be credited with would be a divine righteousness, not a human righteousness. Or perhaps better stated we would not be credited with a lifetime of obedience and perfect righteousness but a moments worth. 
Philippians 2:5-8 - 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Were there things Jesus needed to do to obtain salvation for us? 
Matthew 3:14-16 - 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
He didn't just exist as a righteous man but He fulfilled all righteousness. He identified with man in a profound way and in many ways. He was tempted. He suffered. He didn't do these things just for fun but to fulfill all righteousness and the scriptures. He lived a perfect life under the law so that that perfect life would be credited to our account, so that He would be the spotless lamb, so that He could show us how to live and break us free from the weight of the law (1 John 2:7-8) and so that the prophecies beginning in Genesis of a savior would be fulfilled! 

Succinctly stated:
2 Corinthians 5:21 -He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Every aspect of Christ on this planet was extremely important. Without His death there is no forgiveness of sins. Without His life there is no basis on which we could be considered righteous. If His death only atoned for our sins, then we'd be left in the same state Adam and Eve were in Eden. If Jesus only lived and never died an atoning death then God would be unjust as all of our sins would have gone unpunished and yet we'd be in Heaven and at peace with God!

This completely eliminates any possibility of us boasting about our own works. For if Christ is imputed with our sin and then we, by our own merits, earn our way to Heaven, then do we not have much to boast about? If it's our own righteous life that God looks at, then Christ did only need to come on that Friday and die. But that's not what happened and for that we should all sing:

Joy to the world

The Lord is come

1 comment:

  1. Excellent explanation.

    I would change birth to conception in this sentence, though, in paragraph 2.

    "But why did Jesus begin His earthly existence at BIRTH instead of closer to the time of His crucifixion and effective atonement?"