Bruce A. Ware. The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. 288 pp. $15.99.
In a rightful zeal for defending the full deity of Christ, evangelicals can be susceptible to the danger of downplaying His full humanity. The average Christian probably understands the meaning and significance of Christ’s deity much more than His humanity. But the latter is just as integral as the former to the mission Christ accomplished on the earth, and in The Man Christ Jesus, Ware demonstrates this biblically and theologically in a lay-accessible introduction to the humanity of Christ that is at the same time devotional, doxological, and practical.
Ware begins in Chapter 1 by focusing on the Christ-hymn of Philippians 2 to explain the kenosis. Then, in Chapter 2, he argues (while stressing Christ’s deity and Him living on earth as the God-man) that it is the humanity of Christ that was His primary reality in His day-to-day life on the earth. Chapters 3 and 4 flesh this out by exploring how Jesus increased in wisdom and grew in faith, respectively. While in His divine nature Christ had perfect wisdom and faith, in His human nature He grew in these areas through the Spirit working through “ordinary” means available to all of us. “He learned to obey increasingly difficult demands with their accompanying increasingly difficult opposition and affliction through the whole of his life, which prepared him for the greatest of all divine demands upon him and the greatest attending suffering he would or could ever experience” (p. 64, emphasis original).
In Chapter 5, Ware explores the question of how we can account for the genuineness of Christ’s temptations while holding to divine impeccability. Chapter 6 looks at the issue of why Christ had to come as a man and gives twelve theological reasons why His male gender was essential to His incarnational identity and mission. This chapter will likely ruffle egalitarian feathers. Chapter 7 expounds upon why Jesus had to be a human being in order to die the atoning death for our sins. This chapter goes into the issue of Christus Victor versus penal substitution and demonstrates how the latter is the grounds for the former. Finally, chapter 8 covers how the resurrection, reign, and return of Christ are all tied to His humanity, focusing especially on His reign because this is the area typically thought of in relation to His deity rather than humanity.
The Man Christ Jesus is an excellent book for the average person in the pew. Ware expounds upon deep, profound biblical truths in a lay-accessible way. There is also a devotional flavor, as Ware frequently exhorts the reader to marvel at the magnificent truths he is illuminating. This is refreshing and welcome, since devotional books tend to lack substance and theological books tend to lack doxology and exhortation. Furthermore, each chapter ends with practical points and discussion questions, making this a great book for small group study.
I received a free digital copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.