Lesson 4: Son of God to Son of Man
Birth, Life Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
By Paul R. Blake
“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:3-7).
Like the children of Israel in bondage to Egyptian masters, so all of humankind has been bound by sin since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-15). Since that time, every person who reaches the age where he or she can discern between right and wrong will choose to commit sin (Romans 3:10, 23). However, human beings do not have the means of paying for their sins. In lesson two, we learned that animal sacrifices do not have the power to remove sins. And since sin brings death (Romans 6:23), every sinner is in an impossible position; the human predicament is that all men sin and all men die. What can be done to change this and restore humankind to fellowship with God?
God, in His grace, mercy, and love (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-9; Ephesians 2:1-10), chose to send His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to tell us how to be saved from our sins; and, to suffer and die on the cross of Calvary in true atonement or payment for our sins. (1John 3:5; 2Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 1:5)
How did the Son of God come to this world, become the Son of Man, and bring salvation to us? He had to leave Heaven, and His eternal spirit had to occupy a human form that could experience all things that make up the human condition. John wrote: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus had to participate in the human condition, requiring Him to be tempted and face His own death (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15). Jesus became the Son of Man and all that it implies.
Jesus experienced childhood. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary who was traveling with Joseph, to whom she was espoused, to Bethlehem to be registered as Caesar commanded. Her Baby, conceived of the Holy Spirit, was born in a stable and His first baby bed was a manger. Shepherds were angelically instructed to visit Him, and wise men were drawn to him by a bright star that illuminated His arrival.
From the very beginning, His life was filled with paradoxes. He left His home in heaven, only to have no home in this world (Matthew 8:20). He was born in a stable, but received gifts fit for royalty (frankincense, myrrh, and gold). He was visited by both poor field hands and by rich advisors to kings. He was born in a small town, but the sign of His arrival filled the heavens. He came to this world to give life, and His parents had to flee with Him to save His life. (Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-23) And He was a child that grew up subject to His parents, while at the same time He exhibited the wisdom of the Divine. (Luke 2:46-52)
Jesus experienced adulthood. He began His ministry at about the age of thirty by being baptized by John the Baptist “to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:13-17) It was immediately after His baptism that God the Father acknowledged Him from heaven. However, Satan was determined to undermine the ministry of the Lord. Shortly after He was baptized, the Devil subjected Him to three powerful temptations, and Jesus decisively resisted them all. (Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus chose twelve men from various backgrounds and experiences to be His apostles (Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot). (Matthew 10:2-4) He preached the Sermon on the Mount, the first recorded sermon of the Lord in scripture, and it was landmark. This began a series of lessons and instructions designed to help humankind to understand how to become more like God Who created us in His own image. He was preparing people for the coming salvation that would be the fulfillment of the third promise given to Abraham: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
Jesus performed multiple miracles during His three year ministry. He began by turning wash water into the finest wine during a wedding feast in Cana. (John 2:1-11) He healed multitudes of sick persons. (Matthew 15:30) He raised the dead. (John 11:43-44) He fed over five thousand people with little more than a lad’s lunch, and had baskets of leftovers gathered up when they finished. (John 6:1-14) He showed great power over the forces of nature by calming a stormy sea. (Mark 4:35-41) The list of the wonders Jesus performed is long; in fact, the scriptures do not contain a complete account of all of His miracles. The Bible contains enough of the works of Jesus to move us to believe that He is the Son of God and to act on that faith in obedience to the Gospel. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
But of all of the experiences Jesus shared with humanity, death proved to be the most difficult. He reached the peak of His popularity in this world on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5), but from that point onward, favor with human beings declined until He was crucified. In John 6, Jesus fed the multitude and then preached to them about the cost of discipleship, and the vast majority abandoned Him, never to return. In Matthew 22, the leaders of the Jews asked Him questions designed to shame Him in public, and He responded by exposing their hypocrisy. He taught several lessons using parables that illustrated how the priests betrayed their office and how the people had grown so worldly and materialistic; so, they began to actively plot to have Him killed. (John 11:47-53)
Jesus knew His time in this world was limited. (John 12:23-28) He went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed in agony to His Father asking to be delivered from the death He would face. God did not release Him from this, and Jesus arose from prayer resolved to face His crucifixion. One of Jesus’ apostles, Judas Iscariot, bargained with the Jewish leaders to betray Him into their custody, and did so just as Jesus was leaving the garden of prayer. A series of interrogations and travesties of justice followed, resulting in Jesus placed in Roman hands for execution.
Our Lord was mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross, left to hang there suffering the most vile treatment by the most evil of men. However, the pain endured by His body was exceeded by the agony of His spirit in bearing all of our sins on that cross. So great was His sorrow that it moved His to cry out to God Whom He had known from before the beginning: “Why have You forsaken Me?!” But instead of cursing the men who put Him on the cross, He asked God to forgive them in their ignorance. And then, He died. He had succeeded in experiencing all of the human condition: birth, growth, friendships, temptation, love, anger, sorrow, pain, and death. He knows what we must deal with as human beings, because He was Immanuel, God with us, the Son of God who became the Son of Man.
After the death of Jesus, two things happened to Him that are presently outside of human experiences, but one day will be experienced by all of the righteous. First, He rose from the dead never to die again! On Sunday morning after His burial, He rose from the grave. He showed Himself to many witnesses on several occasions, proving that death no longer had power over Him. (1Corinthians 15:1-8) His resurrection is unique only in the sense that He was the first. (1Corinthians 15:20-23; John 5:28-29)
The second thing that happened to Jesus was His ascension to the Father. Again, He was only the first. When the Lord returns, He will gather all of the righteous and take them to Heaven to be with His Father forever. (1Thessalonians 4:13-18) The unrighteous and those who refuse the Gospel will be sent to Hell. (2Thessalonians 1:7-9) How can one be assured that he or she is found righteous, a member of the Lord’s church that will be gathered into Heaven? This will be considered in Lesson Five: Upon this Rock - Beginning of the Church and the Work of the Apostles.
Scriptures Used In Text
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