Sometimes people wonder, “Is Jesus really the only way? Is there truly no path to salvation through any other? Why Jesus?”
After the miraculous events surrounding the birth of Jesus, His childhood years were spent in relative anonymity. We get a glimpse of Jesus at twelve years of age when He went with His family to attend the Passover Feast in Jerusalem. Traveling with a large caravan as they journeyed home, Jesus’ parents did not discover He had been left behind until the evening. It took them three days to find Jesus, sitting in the Temple, discussing the Holy Scriptures with the teachers there who were amazed at His understanding and His answers to their questions (Luke 2:41-51).
We do not see Jesus again until He is around thirty years of age. Jesus comes to where John is baptizing near Bethany, beyond the Jordan. After John baptizes Jesus, God the Father testifies that Jesus is His Son:
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17, see also John 1:29-34, Matthew 3:11-17)
Although Jesus openly acknowledged that He was the Son of God, He more often referred to Himself as the Son of Man (see note*). I believe this habit reflects the steadfast resolve of His heart to do the will of His Father (John 4:34, 6:38). He did not come merely to be a teacher, although He was a great teacher. He did not come simply to be another prophet, although He prophesied. He came as the Son of God in human flesh and lived among us so that we might know Him better. But He came also as the Son of Man so that He could fulfill the desire of His Father’s heart and provide a way for us to be saved.
You see, only one who was both Son of God and Son of Man could provide the way for humanity to be saved. Jesus had to become truly human so that He could take upon Himself the penalty for the sins of humanity. No man besides Jesus could do this for another since he would first have to die for the guilt of his own sin (Rom. 6:23).
The penalty of death, that is spiritual death or eternal separation from God, was passed through Adam to all his offspring (Gen. 5:3, 1Cor. 15:21-22). And so, Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, had to be conceived as fully human, yet without the sinful nature which was inherited through Adam. Therefore, Jesus was miraculously conceived in Mary of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35, Matt. 1:20) and did not bear the guilt of Adam’s sin.
Not only this, but Jesus never sinned and therefore He never brought condemnation upon His own head. The Scriptures testify that Jesus lived His human life, being tempted in every way as we ourselves are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15, 2Cor. 5:21). You might think, “Sure, it was easy for Him to live a sinless life, He was God!” But it was not so simple. Although it is true that Jesus did not have an in-born sinful nature to contend with, temptation was as real for Him as for any one of us. Paul tells us,
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
When Jesus took on human form, He “emptied Himself.” Jesus laid aside His divine privileges, although He retained His godly character. The evidence of Scripture tells us that Jesus lived His life in human flesh through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 5:19, 8:28, 14:10). And the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8).”
And so, because Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and came under no condemnation for personal sin, He was able to take upon Himself the condemnation for our sins when He died on the cross (2Cor. 5:21). Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man is the only One who could make possible the way of salvation.
*Note: In the Gospels there are about 80 references in which Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man and about 5 where He refers to Himself as the Son of God. There are perhaps 20 references where others call Jesus the Son of God.
From the Series: Easter