Tabletalk Subscription
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining.You've accessed all your free articles.
Unlock the Archives for Free

Request your free, three-month trial to Tabletalk magazine. You’ll receive the print issue monthly and gain immediate digital access to decades of archives. This trial is risk-free. No credit card required.

Try Tabletalk Now

Already receive Tabletalk magazine every month?

Verify your email address to gain unlimited access.

{{ error }}Need help?

Matthew 21:18

“In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.”

During the earliest centuries of church history, much of the theological debate centered around the identity of Jesus. Was He merely human? Was He God? Was He both? Was He neither? Over time, sustained reflection on the Apostolic testimony of the New Testament led the church to affirm Christ’s true deity. But, the church fathers also confessed Christ’s true humanity. The essentials of this teaching on the person of Christ were codified at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, and the confession produced by this council was adopted by the Protestant Reformers.

The Definition of Chalcedon says that in the one person of Christ are united a true human nature and a true divine nature without confusion, mixture, division, or separation. In other words, when the Son of God, who from all eternity possessed the divine nature, added to Himself a human nature, each nature retained its own attributes. The divine nature did not become human and the human nature did not become divine. Neither were the natures mixed together such that Christ was a strange human-divine hybrid, neither truly human nor truly divine. No, Christ was and remains the God-man. This is a mystery we cannot fully comprehend, but we must affirm it. If Christ is not truly human, He cannot atone for our sin, for only a human being can atone for the sin of other human beings. If Christ is not truly God, the atonement He offers does not have sufficient value to be applied to all the elect. If Christ is not the God-man, there is no salvation.

Many passages of Scripture teach the true humanity of Jesus. For example, today’s passage describes the hunger of Jesus (Matt. 21:18). The ability to get hungry is an attribute of Christ’s human nature, for God has no need of anything, even food. Similarly, Christ’s growing weary and sleeping also reveal His human nature, for God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Mark 4:38; see Ps. 121:4). At a few points in His ministry, Christ also expressed ignorance of certain things (Matt. 24:36). Again, that is a revelation of Christ’s humanity, for God is omniscient, and in His divine nature Christ is omniscient as well.

Importantly, Christ’s humanity enabled Him to be tempted. Because He became like us in all respects except for sin, our Lord could be tempted as a man, and so He can help us when we are tempted (Heb. 2:17–18). He is not far removed from what we face, but having walked through it Himself, He can give us what we need to fight against sin.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Christ is our Lord but He is not a master who is unapproachable or who does not understand us. Having taken on our flesh, He is able to sympathize with us and He knows what we need for strength in our weakness. Let us not be afraid to run to Him when we are being tempted or to rest in His strength. He can sustain us in all things no matter how difficult they become.

For Further Study
  • Luke 24:36–43
  • John 11:35
  • Philippians 2:5–11
  • 2 John 7
Related Scripture

The Divine Nature of Christ

Jesus The Last Adam

Keep Reading Why We Are Reformed

From the May 2017 Issue
May 2017 Issue