Jesus is the Model Human
The Scriptures and the universal Church declare: the eternal Son, “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,”1 became a human in an event known as the incarnation.2 The fourth Evangelist calls him the divine Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us” as the man, Jesus,3 in whom the apostle Paul contends the fullness of deity dwells within a human body.4
In many ways, Jesus’ humanity is a lot like ours—the ancient biographies show Jesus taking part in many of the ordinary activities of embodied human life: getting tired5 and taking naps;6 eating, drinking,7 and getting thirsty.8 Some moments of Jesus’ life were full of joy;9 others weeping.10 The Prince of Peace had a panic attack.11
But in other ways, Jesus is a very different sort of human than us—he’s perfect. In him, there is no pride, self-interest, or egotism. In him, there is no malice, scheming, or slander, and from him flows nothing but genuine love for God and his neighbors.
In Jesus, humanity is shown who they were intended to be; who they can now become through him. He is the exemplary human. Thinkers long before and after Jesus have philosophized about the ideal person of perfect virtue.12 Only in Christ, the Son of Man, do we see Him who so many have envisioned, who countless others have strived and failed to be.
Shortly before sentencing him to die, Pontius Pilate presents Jesus before the crowds, declaring: “Behold, the man!”13 Though Pilate does not know it, he is saying something incredibly profound to the mob and multitudes of bystanders: Jesus, the man bruised and beaten, is the man, the human14 in whom genuine, God-abiding, fully-flourishing humanness is revealed.
1. Quote from the Nicene Creed (325 AD)
2. See, for example: Athanasius of Alexandria. (c. 312 AD ). On the Incarnation (Popular Patristics). Yonkers, NY: SVS Press. This is an English translation of Athanasius’ fourth-century work.
3. John 1:14
5. John 4:6
6. Mark 4:38
10. John 11:35
12 Marino, G. D. (2010). Introduction. In 1150600479 865132712 G. D. Marino (Author), Ethics: The essential writings. New York, NY: Modern Library.
13. John 19:5b ESV
14. The words rendered into English translations of John 19:5 as the man are ὁ ἄνθρωπος (ὁ anthrópos), which can also be translated as the human. See Bible Hub – Strong’s Greek: 444. ἄνθρωπος (anthrópos) and John 19:5 Interlinear