The humanity of Christ is a great comfort for believers. Certainly we are dependent on His deity, for that is where His authority and His redemptive powers reside, yet in His humanity, we have a Savior who is sympathetic to our needs. He understands us and our circumstances (e.g., Heb 4:14-16).
Yet it can be difficult in reading the Gospel accounts to perceive His humanity since His power and authority are so evident. For instance, in Matthew 8 Jesus is clearly the authoritative Messiah. In a series of miracles He demonstrates His power over leprosy, fever, the lingering effects of illness, demons and demon-possession, and a storm at sea. And He also demonstrates His authority by commanding the disciples to follow Him. These events demonstrate that He is God because He is not prevented from acting by disease, distance (time and space), nature, man’s will, or Satanic oppression or influence.
Yet tucked into these accounts are also glimpses of His humanity. Yes, He is God, but He is also Man — the infinite and eternal God-Man. Consider:
- Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him (v. 3; also v. 15) — He had a physical body no different from ours (and was also compassionate and tender).
- the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (v. 20) — the Creator of the universe came to His creation and had no permanent possession on it that He could call His own. He had no permanent home. A fox has a hole to bed down and a bird has a nest for safety, but the God-Man has no corresponding residence of His own.
- Jesus Himself was asleep (v. 24) — in His humanity, Jesus experienced the same kinds of daily needs we know, like hunger and sleep.
Additionally, it is important to note that while the demons address Jesus as the Son of God (v. 29), emphasizing His deity and heavenly authority, He refers to Himself as the Son of Man (v. 20). This title is Jesus’ favorite title for Himself; He uses it over 80 times in reference to Himself. And while this title is used in Daniel 7:13-14 to refer to the Messiah who has authority from the “Ancient of Days” (the Father), it also has another connotation. “Son of Man” is a title that refers to the humanity and humility of Christ (e.g., Mk. 10:45; Jn. 8:28) — even being used frequently in reference to His death by crucifixion (e.g., Mk. 8:31; 9:12, 31; 10:33; Jn. 3:14; 8:28).
So here in Matthew 8 we have a fully painted picture of Jesus Christ. As God, He is over all powers and circumstances that might have influence in our lives, and as Man, He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and needs. As the eternal God-Man, He — the Son of Man who had nowhere to lay His head — is all we need.