Is Jesus still a man? Does it matter? Yes. Did Jesus return to Heaven and take on the same form as before the Incarnation? No.
No honest Christian will deny that Jesus, as the only begotten Son of God indeed became a man in the flesh. Christians also believe in a triune Godhead—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is shrouded in mystery, beyond human comprehension. Yet Jesus’ humanity can be discerned. This argument, the Hebrew writer unmistakably defends.
Jesus is presently the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him. He is presently our help in time of need. He is currently an intercessor for those who seek Him.1 He is presently High Priest in the Temple of Heaven after the order of Melchizedek, interceding in the presence of God for men.2
For Jesus to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek, He needs to be a man. Melchizedek was not a spirit. Jesus is not presently a Spirit. His Spirit is with us in our hearts and in our very presence. Paul empathically reminds us “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”3
Furthermore, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, saw Jesus standing as a man in Heaven.4 Stephen did not see a spirit—he saw a man. Stephen knew who this Man was; it was Jesus. John too, the apostle and Revelator, saw Jesus in person, heard Jesus’ voice in person, and felt Jesus’ hand in person upon his shoulder on the physical Island of Patmos.5 Apostle Paul when referring to Jesus’ mediatory position in Heaven did not call Him a spirit; Paul called Him the man Christ Jesus (the Man, “Messiah Savior”).6
Jesus eternally exists as the Triune Son of God. I and my Father are One (John 10:30).
Jesus as a divine being was active in Creation and presently sustains all Creation by the word of His power. (Gen 1; Col 1:16,17; Heb 1:3).
Jesus as one of the Triune Godhead agreed before Creation to come to earth and to procure the salvation of the human race. Who verily was foreordained before the foundations of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1Pe 1:20).
Jesus became a man in the Incarnation. Something that never, ever was before. He was “made” of a woman. (Gal 4:4)
Jesus presently lives in Heaven, in a glorified body, with material form. Let no man say Jesus is not now a man in celestial flesh lest he deny the very Word of the Lord. Let God be true and every man a liar.7
It is essential to Christian faith to understand that things incredible, divinely mysterious, humanly unexplainable and eternally significant occurred by Incarnation. Before the Incarnation, Jesus was a divine being and the Son of God the Father, but He was not a divine man. He possessed not flesh, blood, nor bones. A few times before His human birth on planet earth, Jesus personified Himself in pre-incarnate form (e.g., to Abraham, Sarah, Joshua, Manoah and wife, and Daniel). Howbeit, Jesus was not a man with flesh, blood, and bones before Incarnation, although, He had already agreed to become so, to save the human family.
A few of the things incredible and incomprehensible occurring by Incarnation are the following:
Jesus’ coming as a man allowed that He could share His Father’s inheritance with redeemed humans.8
Jesus, who was not a man before, now became a divine man; retained all His divine attributes, yet willingly laid aside something of His divinity. Herein Jesus as a man learned obedience. Yes, this is true though its reality can neither be humanly understood nor explained.9
We have no record of Jesus in His earth life relying upon His divine nature as a man to overcome temptation. Rather He called out to His Father in prayer and through the Word of God to receive His Father’s divine power. He allowed Himself to undergo temptation in all points like as we. In other words, when Jesus saw “a beautiful girl” crossing the street, He was tempted. When Satan “offered him a farm,” He was tempted by personal accomplishment and pride of life. When Satan offered Him “position in the economic climate of His day” which bypassed the highest eternal service to humanity, He was tempted to avoid the Cross. Such temptation began in the wilderness and ended with Him hanging in physical human pain, on a physical Roman cross! If Jesus in His earth life, (as some say), drew upon His divinity to overcome temptations, then He was in no way tempted in all points such as we. It is an incredible truth that Jesus as a man was like us in all points; and yet He limited His divinity depending entirely upon His Father’s power from Heaven and upon the Father’s Word on earth. That should challenge and encourage us to faithful, holy living, and hope.10
The unmistakable Incarnation theme of the letter to the Hebrews is both encouragement and argument. The miraculous truth, beyond what we often consider, is that Jesus became a human though He was never human before. It argues that by His agreement to be the sacrifice to redeem the fallen human race, He therein became “The Priest” forever after the order of Melchizedek, to make intercession for us forever. He retains, at this moment in Heaven, a celestial, glorified body as He intercedes for those whom He has redeemed.
The Hebrews writer argues that Jesus took on the nature of man—the seed of Abraham, of Jewish descent—a mystery that was never, ever before.11 In this unexplainable mystery, Jesus took on form that was 100% divine and 100% human. John, as a “theologian,” emphasizes Jesus’ divine nature in his Gospel story, while Luke, as a “physician,” emphasizes His human nature.
By Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial and substitutional death; He became the new Adam, the head of the human family.12 Adam had been the first human and head of the earth, but he sinned. As the first human to live sinlessly, and as the first human to rise forever from the dead; Jesus became the head of the human family on earth and in heaven, and the firstfruit of resurrection from the dead.13
Jesus prophesied He would rise in glorified humanity.14 Paul confirms Jesus prophesy in 1 Corinthians 15:14.
Jesus died a human.15 There is no controversy that Jesus died as a human on a cross; except for non-Christian religions and various atheistic groups who deny the biblical record. We believe that Jesus died.16
Jesus rose from the dead physically but as a celestial human. He rose from the dead in the same body in which He died; though it was now a glorified body. The angels told Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James and Salome, "Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he [his body] is not here: behold [look at] the place where they laid him."17
Two disciples of Jesus, both Peter, and John, verified that Jesus’ crucified body was gone from the tomb.18
Mary Magdalene and other women saw and knew Jesus as a man in the Garden of Gethsemane.19
The disciples saw and knew Jesus as a man too. He upbraided them for unbelief.20
Jesus walked and talked with them in His material, celestial body after the resurrection for 40 days and with many other infallible proofs.21
Jesus ate a physical breakfast, with physical food, with the disciples by the Sea of Galilee.22
Jesus was seen by 500 men on one occasion whose testimony Paul says is sure.23
Apostle Paul declares he also saw Jesus as a man, whose voice he recognized.24
Apostle John saw Jesus in the Revelation as a man, not as a spirit, and immediately recognized Him as the glorified Jesus.25
Jesus Himself testified of His own celestial, material body. "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."26
Two angels from Heaven itself, testified of Jesus celestial, material body, as a man, now in present form, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.27
Did Jesus go away into Heaven in spirit form, NO! He went as a man in glorified flesh and bone.
Jesus is the firstfruit—we the harvest.
Merely asserting that Jesus rose from the dead is not enough. It must be stated that Jesus rose physically, lest the very words of Christ be denied. Jesus said He would raise the temple of His body.28 Jesus, as the firstborn from the dead, retained the physical wounds of His crucifixion. Perhaps this was God’s proof to man that He rose in his old body which was changed into a glorified body.
Paul declares that any who person who denies the resurrection of Christ in the body has a false religion—he is not a true Christian.29 Therefore, it is not enough to only believe that Jesus rose. We must acknowledge that He rose physically in human form. Paul posits that a “spirit” resurrection is not a resurrection of the body. And without the resurrection of the body of Christ, death has not been conquered, therefore, such faith and hope is vanity.
Jesus’ glorified body is the same body in which He died. But what kind of physical, material body was this in which He rose? Was it subject to death again? Would it grow tired or old? Did it have blood? No. To this fact Jesus clearly asserted.
The Bible tells us some things concerning the body which all Christians will receive in the resurrection.28 It is sown a natural body. It is raised a spiritual body. The same body that is sown (dies) is raised. The natural body is the body in which we are born. The natural body dies and is raised from the dead. But when it is raised, it is changed into a celestial body with flesh and bones—Jesus already has His! For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9).
The resurrected body will be different from the natural body in its abilities and qualities, as was Jesus’. We see this in the fact that Jesus, though in the material form of a man, was able to appear in a room without entering through the door (John 20:19-20). Our new, celestial, material body then will take on the same characteristics of Jesus. This we can know because God's Word says we shall bear the image of His heavenly body just as we bore the image of His earthly body. 29
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, some argue. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh, and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” However, the New Testament phrase “flesh and blood” is a phrase always used to designate the natural and carnal state. This phrase is always indicative of, and referring to, the natural present body or natural present intellect. Paul was enforcing that a person cannot live carnally on earth and expect to inherit a resurrected celestial body. He was in no way stating that the resurrected body would not have form. In fact, he was enforcing the very opposite. The following verses also confirm this without mistake:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Matt 16:17).
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood (Gal 1:16).
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:12).
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise 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).
After resurrecting, Jesus said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." So, Jesus specifically stated that now He had flesh and bones, not flesh and blood. He specifically specified that He now did have flesh and bone. He specifically noted that He was not a spirit.
This is not a word game. Jesus’ blood was drained out of His body on the cross. It is His shed blood that cleanses us of our sins: "but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1Jo 1:7).
Jesus’ body was the sacrifice, and His blood cleanses us. Therefore, flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, but glorified flesh and bones can! Hallelujah, praise the Lord. The sting of death will be defeated in the resurrection of the dead!
The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit (1Co 15:45). This verse is not saying that Jesus is without a body, but that He is a life-giving Spirit. As the last Adam, He is the One who gives life to people.30 Furthermore, this scripture is designating that Jesus’ resurrected body is equipped to live in both a material realm and a spiritual realm.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, but flesh and bones will. Jesus did!
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye [we] also appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4).
Yes, my Jesus is still a glorified man, interceding in my behalf! Is He yours?
1. Hebrews 4:16; 5:9; 7:25
2. Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,17, 21; 8:1; 9:24; 10:19,21-22
3. 1 Corinthians 3:16
4. Acts 7:55
5. Revelation 1:12-19
6. 1 Timothy 2:5
7. Romans 3:4
8. Romans 8:17
9. Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 5:7,8
10. Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-15
11. Hebrews 2:14-16
12. Romans 5:6-21
13. 1 Corinthians 15:20,21
14. John 2:19-21
15. Mark 15:37,39
16. 1 Thessalonians 4:14
17. Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6
18. John 20:1-10
19. Matthew 28:1-5; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-9
20. Luke 24; John 20
21. Acts 1:3
22. John 21
23. 1 Corinthians 15:6
24. 1 Corinthians 15:6-9; Acts 26:12-27
25. Revelation 1, Luke 24:39; John 20:27
27. John 2:21; Matthew 26:61
28. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
29. 1 Corinthians 15:49
30. 1 John 5:12