Chapter 3: Jesus is a Man
SEMUON Ki-Dong Kim
“[God our Savior] desires all men to be saved
and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men,
the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all,
to be testified in due time,
for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle
—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—
a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
1 Timothy 2:4-7
God is a Person. A person has several characteristics. A person is eternal. All of mankind are persons. Animals perish after they die and return to the dust. That is the end of their existence. But mankind will remain eternal even after their deaths, that is, when they have departed from the body. A person has the intellect to recognize and evaluate objects. A person has the emotions to feel a variety of feelings (like joy, anger, sorrow and pleasure). A person has the will to choose or reject something in a situation. Because of these faculties, a person has the capability of controlling, dominating and changing the things surrounding him and his environment. Out of all creatures created on the earth by God, only man is a person. For this reason, only man can dominate and rule over other creatures.
God is a Person. He is an eternal being. He has the capacity of intellect, emotion and will. God controls the heaven, the earth, and all the things in them. Angels are also persons. God is different from angels in the sense that God is self-existing from eternity past. He has possessed intellect, emotion, and will from eternity past. He has possessed the ability to control all things from eternity past. Man is a person whom God has ‘created in His image, according to His likeness.’ The most distinctive feature of man is that he is a person with a fleshly body. Man is the only person on earth who can recognize objects through his five senses.
Man is a person created ‘in God’s image, according to His likeness.’ But Jesus is the Person of the Image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Our faith is to acknowledge the truth that Jesus is God the Creator. When we see the Person of Jesus, we do not merely consider Him as one among many. Anyone who does not believe He is the Creator will perish. Even murderers and fornicators can be saved. But anyone who does not believe Jesus Christ is God cannot be saved.
Acknowledging Jesus is the Son of God is the same as acknowledging He is God. There is no son who does not have a father. So, the Son of God is God, just as the son of a human is a human. The Son of God is the God who revealed God’s Person to the world. People could recognize God is living by observing the created universe, even before Jesus came into the world! If we consider the created universe as simply the force of nature, we are denying God. By acknowledging the universe as God’s creation, we acknowledge God’s existence. God created the universe. Even before Jesus came into the world, people recognized God was living when they acknowledged the universe as God’s creation. And they kept the Sabbath to commemorate God as the Creator.
Jesus Christ has finally come into the world. Instead of simply knowing the Creator by observing the physical universe, we know God is a Person through seeing His Image. The Image of God is a Person. God is not some vague and conceptual being. He is a specific Being with a Personality. An apple tree yields apples, a pear tree yields pears, and a lemon tree yields lemons. By the same principle, the Son of God came into the world as a Person, because God Himself is a Person. People witnessed the Son of God come into the world as a Person, so they treated Him as just one out of the many. Yet He is not a created being. He is the One who revealed the Creator in Person. When we recognize Jesus as the Son of God, we recognize God’s Person. God is the Father of Jesus.
We are united with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when we are baptized in immersion. Jesus stated, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). Just as Jesus stated, we have become one body with Him. The Father of Jesus Christ has become our Father. By acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, we acknowledge God is living. The one who acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God become God’s child and is saved. This is because God gives His salvation only to His children.
Why did the Son of God come into the world as a man? Just what kind of beings are humans? All humans are destined to die. Sure, a few people in the past were occasionally raised from the dead. Lazarus was raised from the dead. However, they all eventually died. Human beings have absolutely no power in the presence of death. No matter how much we love our families, we will have to someday give them up to death. There is no one who escapes death. All mankind are slaves of death.
The Son of God became man so that He could taste death. Instead of being held back by death, however, He rose from the dead. He rose from the dead because He is the Son of God. Jesus is the only man who has defeated death. After Jesus resurrected, He went into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. He did this according to the word He spoke. He said, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). Two thousand years have passed since Jesus ascended to heaven. Today, those who believe in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit, speak in new tongues and cast out demons. By witnessing this, we see and experience the clear testimony that Jesus is in heaven.
What does ‘Jesus rising from the dead’ mean? Someone may ask, “Is God not Almighty? Can He not simply do anything He wishes? Why did the Son of God have to die?” We must know the Son of God coming into the world as a man, and Him dying and resurrecting from the dead, was all part of God’s will. Knowing this will is our faith.
Jesus Christ became a man in order to taste death. If He did not taste death, He could not have resurrected. If He did not resurrect, He could not have defeated death. The devil is the lawbreaker who rebelled against God in heaven. God placed him in custody in the universe and permitted him to become its ruling authority (Hebrews 2:14). In other words, the devil was the lawbreaker in heaven and became ‘the ruler of this world’. He rules over mankind with the authority of death (John 12:31). Jesus later came into the place where the authority of death reigns, and died as a man. He became the first Person to defeat death by rising from the dead. He who once possessed the authority of death finally fell down in absolute surrender before Jesus.
Today, those who belong to the Son of God become the children of God and have victory over death. But most people refuse to become united with the Son of God. They continue to belong to the rest of mankind and remain governed by death. We must choose either to belong to the Son of God or belong to mankind. Those who believe Jesus is the Son of God and believe He is the man who defeated death and resurrected will belong to Him. No one among mankind has defeated death. Jesus is the only man who has defeated death.
What is the difference between Jesus and the rest of mankind? All members of mankind are created beings and belong to the lineage of Adam. Jesus is a man unrelated to the lineage of Adam. Jesus sometimes referred to Himself as ‘the Son of Man’ (‘인자’in Korean). If you interpret this term in its word-for word-sense, it will mean ‘the son of a man’. English translations of this term capture this interpretation well. However, we should be careful not to consider Jesus as the descendant of any human being. Jesus is ‘the Seed of the Woman’ (Gen. 3:15). He has no relation whatsoever with the lineage of mankind. Among members of mankind, there is not one of them who is the Seed of the Woman. There is only Person – Jesus Christ – who is considered the Seed of the Woman.
All members of mankind – whoever they are – were conceived in the bodies of women. Women do not pass down any hereditary lineage. A woman can be considered a breeding ground where one bears a child. Let me explain this with an example. If Mr. Choi plants his seed into Miss Park, the surname of their child will not be Park, but Choi. We can also say a woman is a sort of breeding pocket where a child is conceived. The Korean term for ‘lady’ is ‘Ajumeoni’. This word has the literal meaning of ‘a pocket for a child.’ Let me give another example. Let us say Mr. Park has three daughters, and each daughter gets married to one Mr. Lee, one Mr. Choi and one Mr. Kim. The surnames of the children these women give birth to will not be Park. They will be Lee, Choi and Kim, for these are the last names of their fathers. Let us further say that a daughter of Mr. Park marries Mr. Lee, but then gets married to Mr. Choi after Mr. Lee dies. She then gets married to Mr. Kim after Mr. Choi dies. In this case, each child she gave birth to under each marriage will inherit the name of Lee, Choi, and Kim, respectively. These were the last names of their respective biological fathers. We can see by this example that a woman is able to bear children, but not able to hand down the lineage of a child.
Though Jesus came into the world and was conceived in the body of a woman, He is unrelated to the lineage of man. He is unlike them. All man are created beings who have inherited the lineage of Adam. Jesus is the Son of God and ‘the Seed of the woman’, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit. Genesis 3:15 says only the ‘Seed of the Woman’ shall bruise the head of Satan. Jesus is a man. He has no relation to mankind but is the ‘Seed of the Woman’. This is the testimony He is the Son of God and has nothing to do with sin, though all of mankind are sinners.
Some people may ask, ‘Why did the Son of God become a man, though He is unrelated to the lineage of mankind? Why could He not have directly come down from heaven? Why did He have to come through the body of a woman?’ If He had come down directly from heaven and not through the body of a woman, He would be an angel, not a man. An angel cannot reproduce. Angels have no ancestors or descendants but are each individually created. They are merely servants who serve God. They can never call God, ‘Father’. That is why Hebrews 1:5 says:
‘For to which of the angels did He ever say:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?
“I will be to Him a Father,
And He shall be to Me a Son”?’
An angel can never be the savior of mankind. This is why Hebrews 1:13 says:
‘But to which of the angels has He ever said:
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?’
The Son of God became man through being conceived in the body of a woman. For that reason, He died like any other member of mankind. Yet He defeated death by His resurrection, which is unlike the rest of mankind! God made every knee in heaven and on earth, including all evildoers, bow down before Jesus. This was achieved by God raising Jesus from the dead (Philippians 2:10).
Jesus is the Form of God. He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Instead, He lowered Himself, became a man and tasted death. He treated the devil’s authority as something trivial. Since the Son of God is the Form of God, He could not taste death. He lowered Himself to the utmost: He became a man and faced the authority of death. By His Resurrection, He judged the authority of death and preserved God’s glory.
Jesus is the only man to have defeated death. If Jesus was not a man, we could not belong to Him. We must make the choice: whether we will belong to the man named ‘Jesus’ or to the man named ‘Adam’. Whoever belongs to Adam will never escape death. In contrast, whoever belongs to Jesus overcomes death. We have severed ourselves from Adam and have been grafted into Christ. Our baptism is our acknowledgment of this. If we belong to Christ, we have defeated death in the same way Christ has defeated death. So let us all cry out,
“I have defeated death!”
“I have defeated death!”
“I have defeated death!”