Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: The Man Christ Jesus

As Evangelicals we are committed to the deity of Jesus Christ.  It is one of the fundamentals of the faith, and for the first 20 years of my Christian life I was happy affirming the full deity and humanity of the God-man, but actually thought little about what His humanity actually meant.  Then about fifteen years ago a friend of mine challenged me to think more seriously about the humanity of Christ, and in particular how Jesus lived out His humanity as the perfect man walking in dependence upon the Spirit.  He contended that all too often we Evangelicals think about Jesus as having, as a consequence of His deity, resources that allowed Him to sort of float through hardships, “hitting the God button” and leaping over obstacles rather than having to slug it out like you and me.  Often this kind of thinking revealed itself in discussions regarding His peccability vs. impeccability. 

When I began to give this idea of Jesus living in complete dependence upon the Spirit more serious attention I found that my understanding of the Gospels grew immensely, and exhortations like the one in 1 Peter 2:21-23 took on fresh significance.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV

 Captivated by this new understanding I looked around for books that explored the issue and found that there were not very many good ones available.  Well, that void has been partially filled.  Bruce Ware, professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has produced a theologically rich, yet eminently readable little book entitled “The Man Christ Jesus” (ISBN 978-1-43351305-3).  At 156 pages including Scripture indices and priced under $13 this book is a bargain.

Throughout the book the author makes a number of statements which caused me to pause, put the book down and meditate upon the glories of our great Savior.  For example, he writes in reflecting upon Jesus being the Spirit anointed Messiah:

“…the Spirit will remain on him and empower the work that he has yet to accomplish in his second coming.  Indeed, the incarnate Jesus, since he is forever human from the moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, forever has the Spirit upon him working through him to accomplish the work the Father has given him to do.” (pg. 41).

And in regard to the necessity of His bodily resurrection:

“If Christ died for our sin, and sin is to us both a penalty we cannot pay and a power we cannot overcome, then Christ’s death for our sin must both pay sin’s penalty and conquer sin’s power.  But since sin’s penalty is death, if it is true that Christ has “died for our sin,” [1 Cor. 15:3] what is the necessary expression that Christ has paid the penalty for sin fully?  He must rise from the dead.  If he remains in a grave dead, then the penalty of sin is still being paid, and thus its payment has not been made fully.” (pg. 131-2).

In terms of layout, the book has eight chapters, each of which covers a different aspect of Jesus humanity, beginning with the incarnation (includes a helpful discussion of Phil. 2) and ending with His present reign and future return.  At the end of every chapter the author has an application section as well as a series of discussion questions.  This format makes this book perfect for a home study group.  In fact I am using it this summer in our Young Professionals book club.  Summer is upon us.  Pick up this book.  Read it.  And sense a renewed passion for worship.  It is that good!