QUESTION: On a radio program the other night, I heard a preacher say that Christ was not a mortal man while He was on earth. He said Christ did not have living or dead cells in his blood stream as you and I. Is he correct? I disagree with him.
ANSWER: It appears that the old Eutychian-Monophysite Controversy of the 5th century is with us again. The conclusion of the premise that denies the human nature of Christ is usually the assumption that it was impossible for Christ to sin.
Both the premise and the conclusion are incorrect. Jesus came in the flesh and was tempted to sin as we are, yet He overcame and did not sin.
From eternity Jesus is Deity: "the Word was God" (John 1:1-2). Yet for the sake of man He was willing to leave glory (John 17:4) and take on a body of flesh: "and the Word was made flesh" (John 1:14). Though He existed in this "form of God" from everlasting (Micah 5:2), He "counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6-7, RV). And so "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16).
In the flesh, Jesus was a man: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). The fact that Jesus died in the flesh is proof that He had a body subject to corruption, though God did not permit the body to corrupt in the grave but raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:27, 31; the word mortal means "subject to death"). When Jesus died He shed His blood (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14, Heb. 9:12, et al.). The word blood is translated from the one Greek word haima; the Bible assigns to Christ the same blood that courses in the arteries of all human beings. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14).
As man is a creature of a dual nature, i.e. of soul (spirit) and body (2 Cor. 4:16, Matt. 10:28, etc.), so also Christ as Deity in spirit (John 4:24, 1:12) was in a tabernacle of flesh (2 Cor. 5:1, 2 Pet. 1:13-14). Jesus did not lose His Deity in the flesh, nor did His divinity deny His physical being. Though in the flesh "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" dwelt in Him (Col. 2:9).
Only as Jesus was in the flesh could He be tempted to sin (James 1:13, Rom. 8:1, 5-13). To deny the possibility of temptation, one must assume that Christ was not in the flesh, which assumption we have shown to be contradictory to Scriptures. Inasmuch as Christ was in the flesh, He was tempted: He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15; see Matt. 4:1-11). Accordingly Christ condemned sin in the flesh, i.e. proved to man that sin is not inevitable (See 1 Cor. 10:13). He also is able to mediate as one knowing our temptations.