The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ, by Bruce Ware (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013). 156 PP., Paper $15.99
Dr. Bruce Ware, professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a doctrinally solid yet thoroughly readable treatise on the humanity of Jesus Christ. While Jesus’ divine and human natures cannot actually be separated, nor does Ware try to do so, nevertheless he does attempt to show how Jesus’ humanity functioned within the person of Christ and why it was/is necessary for our Lord to possess both divine and human natures in one person. As might be imagined this is no easy task and few theologians could have pulled off what Ware has done. And he does so exceptionally well.
Ware states his thesis as such, “I want to present here some of the evidence from Old and New Testaments that the human life of Jesus is real and to show how important it is that He lived our life in order to die our death and be forever ‘the man Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5) who intercedes for us and reigns over us” (p. 12). Ware is not attempting to provide a complete Christology. He is focusing on the human side of the person of Jesus Christ and recommends Jesus As God by Murray J. Harris for an excellent treatment of the deity of Christ (p. 13). In the eight chapters Ware deals with numerous facets of Christ’s humanity, never shying from the difficult and thorny issues. For example, he superbly explains the so-called kenosis of Christ as detailed in Philippians 2:5-8 (pp. 16-26), how it was that Jesus, being God, could learn and grow in maturity (pp. 60-69), how He could be truly impeccable and yet endure real temptations (pp. 79-86), why Jesus had to be male (pp. 91-109), the purpose of the resurrection, and why Jesus’ humanity is vital in relation to His present reign and future return (pp. 129-146). In addition, The Man Jesus Christ contains an excellent defense of penal substitution and why it is central to the gospel—and how another theory of the atonement, Christus Victor, while true, depends fully on penal substitution (pp. 113-126).
At the end of each chapter the author provides an application for the truths presented within, and study questions for use in small group Bible studies. The book includes both scriptural and topical indexes.
The Man Christ Jesus handles a complicated, yet vital, theological issue with skill. Ware is doctrinally sound and provides excellent biblical exegesis for his position. Yet his book is readable by the serious Bible student. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel