Did Jesus Cease Being a Man?
by Dudley Ross Spears
Jesus is a man in heaven. That is not denied. Inspiration uses the term man of Jesus sequel to his resurrection from the dead. After his resurrection he is designated "Son of Man." This is a term designed to identify the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. The term man cannot be limited to flesh, blood, bones, organs and physical defects and weaknesses. The word man is used in a number of different ways with different meanings.
Jesus Not An Ordinary Man
Jesus denied he was exactly like ordinary men. Jesus told ordinary men, "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world" (John 8:23). Jesus didn't come into this world the same way as an ordinary human. Those who radically humanize our Lord ought to study this verse. In the same breath our Lord then claimed to be the great "I AM" (verse 24). Accepting the limitations of a normal human body in no way altered his essential being. Even the most rabid of those who radically humanize Jesus still say, "In his essence he was still God."
Son of Man After Resurrection
Recently a bulletin article from Alabama published several passages of scripture that use the expression "Son of man." These passages were used to prove Jesus is still a man in heaven. The argument is made that since Jesus is referred to as the son of man after his resurrection, he must still be the same man he was before he died. If that is true, would it not follow that mention made of him as the son of man prior to his coming in the flesh makes him the same kind of man he was on earth? "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself" (Ps 80:17). That tends to rush the incarnation, don't you think?
The Son of Man Before and After
Jesus was called the son of man long before he came to earth. "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Ps 8:4). There is no doubt this son of man is the same son of man who came to earth and is now at God's right hand. (See Heb. 2:6 where the writer applies this to Jesus.) Does this mean Jesus was a man before he became human?
It is misleading to say Jesus is still a man in heaven, that he didn't cease being a man. Advocates of the retained humanity of Jesus in heaven are vague. Do they mean he still eats, sleeps, rests and goes through all the same body functions he did in the flesh? Will any of those who raise this issue say the humanity of Jesus is not a whit different than the humanity he accepted while on earth?
What Kind of "Man"
What kind of man do these people think he is in heaven? He is certainly not in the same physical form he was when he tabernacled with us in the flesh (John 1:14). Even while in the flesh, Jesus was never "just like ordinary men." It is impossible that Jesus is "just an ordinary man" now at the right hand of God. This is what some want to make him now!
Impossible for several reasons.
1. Jesus was not a man just like ordinary man when he first took to himself the form of a slave and was found in fashion as a man (Phil. 2:7).
2. Paul described his current condition as having a "glorious body" (Phil. 3:21). Is his glorious body the very same body Jesus dwelt in while on earth? Does the glorious body need rest and sleep, food and drink, get weary and exhausted? What do we really know about that glorious body? John says we don't know enough to be as dogmatic as some protagonists of our day. " Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).
3. If we do not know what we shall be, but our bodies will be fashioned like unto his glorious body, how can anyone say they know what the man Christ Jesus is like in heaven?
4. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). The only physical body we know of has nerves, bones, tissue, blood and other fluids, veins, arteries and organs. This body of flesh and blood will die, rot, and is corruptible. Paul said corruption does not inherit incorruption. The flesh and blood of Jesus never saw corruption. That is not true of any ordinary man. The man Jesus in heaven is in a body quite different than that of an ordinary human being, and is not in the same body he occupied on earth.
What's The Point?
If this inordinate effort to make Jesus still a man in heaven has any point at all it is not obvious. What the effort does is to involve otherwise good teachers of the word in the misuse and distortion of plain scriptures. It involves them in making a literal application of the word "man" when it is applied to Jesus after his resurrection. It also appears to have an element of the radical humanization of Jesus we have opposed for the last ten or so years.
Jesus was a man on this earth. His physical body was killed, but he that body rose from the dead without seeing corruption (Acts 2:31). The disciples handled that body (John 20:17; 1 John 1:1). It was the body they saw lifted from Mount Olivet to disappear out of their sight on its heaven bound journey. To leave even a slight implication that the humanity of Jesus he had on earth is the same he has now at God's right hand is both foolish, wrong, and totally unnecessary.
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