The Humanity of Jesus

When we think of the incarnation, it is important to remember that the Son of God took on, not merely human flesh, but everything it means to be human (except, of course, sin). Not only did Jesus possess a human body with all its weaknesses and limitations, but also a human mind with all its weaknesses and limitations. The way this was expressed in the Definition of Chalcedon in 451 AD was that "he has a rational soul and a body." As a man, Jesus was a normal human being.

It is easy to think of Jesus as merely a human body with divinity somehow poured into him, animating and controlling him. But this would make Jesus less than human. Instead, we understand that Jesus is fully human, possessing a human mind, human emotions, human limitations, and a human body, even while he remains fully God. This means that as a man Jesus was often ignorant of the same kinds of things we would be ignorant of, such as the timing of his return (Mark 13:32) or the identify of the one who touched him in a crowd (Mark 5:30).

The significance of the human mind of Jesus is often overlooked, but expressed beautifully by the modern theologian Donald Macleod:

"Christ had to submit to knowing dependently and to knowing partially. He had to learn to obey without knowing all the facts and to believe without being in possession of full information. He had to forego the comfort which omniscience would sometimes have brought. This, surely, was a potent factor in the dereliction (Mark 15:34). The assurance of the Father's love, the sense of his own sonship and the certainty of his victory were all eclipsed, and he had to complete his obedience as the one who walked in darkness, knowing only that he was sin and that he was banished to the outer darkness. He suffers as the one who does not have all the answers and who in his extremity has to ask, "Why?" The ignorance is not a mere appearing. It is a reality. But it is a reality freely chosen, just as on the cross he chose not to summon twelve legions of angels. Omniscience was a luxury always within reach, but incompatible with his rules of engagement. He had to serve within the limitations of finitude" (from "The Person of Christ").

The reality that Jesus has both a human mind and a human body makes the significance of the chorus of "O Holy Night" all the more powerful:

"He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger; Behold your King!"

Five for Friday

A quick review of some helpful and interesting articles from this week:

God can be outvoted - Matthew Paris, a gay atheist, offers one of the best assessments of the Catholic church's response to the homosexual marriage referendum in Ireland.

PCA General Assembly - byFaith online summarizes the 10 overtures the GA will be dealing with.

Mars Hill Audio - I am always grateful for a new edition of Mars Hill Audio. You have to subscribe to listen, but you can hear a sample edition here.

Gender and the Public School - If gender no longer matters for marriage, it no longer matters for anything.

The Old Gospel - One of my favorite essays on the gospel is by J. I. Packer. It's his introduction to John Owen's Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Well worth a careful read.

Five for Friday

A quick review of some helpful and interesting articles from this week:

It's Going to Be an Issue - Al Mohler examines the Supreme Court's consideration of gay marriage and recognizes that religious liberty is in the crosshairs.

One Professor's Journey from Scientology to Christ - Christian conversion is beautiful, and all the more when it includes a Star Trek/Dr. Who convention.

The Gospel Coalition Conference Audio - Find all of the sessions online.

D. A. Carson on Why the Local Church Is Important - In the pages of the NT, to be converted, to be baptized, and to join the local community of believers are all part of the same thing.

Psalm 73 to Wetherby (below) - But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God...


 

Five for Friday

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A quick review of some helpful or interesting articles from this week:

The Rare Jewel of Christian Commitment - So important is the rare jewel of Christian commitment among the members of a local church that it is right to say that the health and the mission of the church depends upon it.

Holiness and Honor: A Reformed View of Sex and Marriage - The Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology is live-streaming, starting Friday morning.

10 Things Young Singles in a Romantic Relationship Ought to Know - Marriage does not fix bad behavior; if anything, it often gives it freer reign. Ladies, this means that if your boyfriend is controlling, suspicious, verbally condescending or manipulative, he will become more so the longer your relationship goes on.

Sandra McCracken: Psalms - Sandra McCracken has just released a new album, largely based on the Psalms. It's worth a listen. I especially like "We Will Feast in the House of Zion."

A Note from Creator Cakes - An interesting alternative for the gay-marriage cake-baking debate.

 

Women's Conference with Nancy Guthrie

 

Many of our women are looking forward to this weekend's women's conference hosted by the Pittsburgh Presbytery (PCA) and Providence Church.

The Conference

As women, there are many voices that we can listen to, yet Jesus’ voice is what we need to hear clearly. Join us as we hear how the words of Jesus speak hope into our lives every day and in the middle of pain and difficulties.

Who is invited?Any woman age 14 and up

What is the cost?Full priced registration is $35. An early registration is available from January 1–February 15 for $30.

Where is the conference? First Reformed Presbyterian Church
12900 Frankstown Road
Penn Hills, PA 15235
View on Google Maps

For more information visit the Providence Church website.

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Our Speaker

Nancy Guthrie speaks at conferences around the country and internationally. She is the author of numerous books including Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow and The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament. Learn more about Nancy at nancyguthrie.com.

 

Thy Mercy My God

 

In May we'll be learning a new (old) song, Thy Mercy My God. The old song was written by John Stocker in 1776. It is a testimony to God's covenant love for his people through Christ, and a powerful reminder of his unyielding mercy. The new tune is by Sandra McCracken (listen below).

 
 
 

A Day for Grace and Imprecation

 

This morning we started our day with the hard news of the stabbings at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville. As I write the reports are that twenty people were injured. Several have life-threatening injuries. We can presume most are high-school students.

Because of the nearness of Franklin Regional to our own community, we will all undoubtedly know people who are directly affected by these events. We will all be talking about this with others. And we will all be wondering how to respond, how to answer the big questions about God's goodness and sovereignty, and how best to make God's love and grace known to those who are hurting.

I won't presume to answer all those big questions in this small space. But I will remind us that this is a day for grace and a day for imprecation.

It is a day for grace because sin has made its presence known in a powerful and undeniable way. In our response we need to be clear with ourselves and with others that God is gracious, that God is longsuffering and full of mercy, that God forgives sin, and that all of us are sinners in need of God's grace. We haven't taken a knife to the back of our schoolmates, but we have murdered in our hearts. We have hated and despised. It is on a day like today that we are reminded how especially powerful God's grace is in the lives of repentant sinners - even murderers.

But it is also a day for imprecation, because not all sinners repent. Not all murderers see their error. Not everyone who commits evil turns from their ways. While God's offer of grace extends to all, not all receive it. And because of this the imprecatory prayers of the Bible are not only permitted, but also wise on a day such as this. While we do indeed long for the salvation of all men, we also long for God's justice. We should still pray the Psalms in all their dread and glory:

 The LORD is in his holy temple;

     the LORD's throne is in heaven;

     his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

The LORD test the righteous,

     but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

Let him rain coals on the wicked;

     fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

For the Lord is righteous;

he loves righteous deeds;

     the upright shall behold his face.

                                 Psalm 11:4-7

                 Today, pray for the victims of this crime. Pray for the students and staff who witnessed it. Pray for the families devastated by it. Pray for the school. Pray for the civil authorities. And pray for the churches of Murrysville, that they would faithfully share the full  measure of God's character and glory with hurting people.

God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He forgives sin. But he will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6-7).

 Pastor Aaron