As we dwelt on Christ's humanity, we ended up zooming in on an aspect of Jesus' human-ness which we easily overlook:
Jesus is a man.
In case you are confused and think that I just restated an obvious truth, let me put it a different way:
Jesus is not a woman.
Let me see if I can put a finer point on it:
Jesus is a man, and He has to be a man; He could not be a woman.
Jesus could not have stood in a representative capacity for the human race had he been a woman. Why not? Because God determined from the beginning that the man, Adam, would represent the race. God created Adam first, and then Eve. He named the race after Adam: the Hebrew word for mankind is adam. It was in Adam's sin that all fell, not Eve's. In Adam's sin, both men and women became subject to the judgment of corruption.
God's specificity is offensive. For instance, many will find it a despicable reality that salvation came through a Jew, and that it in fact had to come through a Jew. There was no other option. Why? Because God chose the Jews as His own people when He called them out of Egypt and promised that the nation of Israel in particular would be to Him "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). God chose and preferred the Jews. Does this mean God is a racist? Of course not; after all, He used the nation of Israel as an instrument of blessing for the entire earth. This is most evident in the person and work of the True Israelite: Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, some will find the racial specificity of God's means of salvation offensive.
Some might even find it offensive to say that Jesus had to be human at all. Why couldn't He have been a dolphin? Why not a chimpanzee? After all, aren't these creatures just like us? Why couldn't the Savior have been a goat? Why? Because God uniquely emblazoned His image onto man (i.e., not animals); in fact, God has set man far above all other animals:
You have made [man] a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
This offensive demonstration of God's preference goes all the way back to His promise to Abraham, that the son of promise would come through Sarah and—quite conspicuously--not through Hagar. It gets worse; "there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man…; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'" (Romans 9:10–13).
God is pleased to glorify Himself in the specificity of His righteous choice. And His choice often offends our worldly sensibilities. For example, God wrote the character of His fatherhood into the human race. And He did it in a specific way at one of the most basic levels of human personhood: sexuality.
Jesus Christ stood in a unique position. He was uniquely suited to fulfill the office of Messiah, and all the unique aspects of His person served this end, even down to the fact that He was a male.
Now why bring this up? Isn't this just causing unnecessary offense? Even if this is true, doesn't this seem like a truth we should be able to avoid, so as not to cause unnecessary offense?
Let me ask you this: If someone refuses to accept Jesus because they're unwilling to be represented by a man, and to acknowledge that they must be represented by a man, what are they rejecting? If we veil this truth about Christ's person, such that this individual doesn't have to come face to face with the reality of Christ's manhood, have they really believed the Gospel?
Now understand, I'm not saying that if someone's never thought about this reality—the importance of Christ's maleness—that they haven't truly believed the Gospel. There are many theological truths which we may never process and many that we will never come to grips with in this life, but an exhaustive understanding of theology is not a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven. All I'm asking is this: If someone who claims to be a Christian comes up against this truth, and refuses to accept it, would you still call them a Christian? If I am ashamed of this basic aspect of Christ's personhood, do I rightly bear the name of Christ?
Many are willing, in general terms, to acknowledge their own need for the blood of Christ and the uniqueness of His position as Savior. But are we willing to subject ourselves to His representation of us in the specifics of His person? Do we rejoice that He came as a human being and didn't stay in heaven? Do we rejoice that He took on our flesh, and not the flesh of a bull or a goat, such that He could truly atone for our sin? Do we rejoice that He came to Israel, as a Jew, was circumcised on the eighth day, and thereby functioned as our true Messiah? Do we rejoice that He fulfilled the specific details of the Old Testament prophecies—that He was born in Bethlehem, to a virgin from David's line, etc.—and thereby showed Himself to be God's Anointed? Do we rejoice that He came as a man, to represent us in righteousness and overcome the detrimental representation of our first father, Adam? Do we rejoice to see God's fatherhood and Christ's headship reflected in marriage, where wives subject themselves to their husbands, and husbands love and cherish their wives? Do we rejoice in the glorious display of Christ's authority in the church, where a woman is not allowed "to teach or exercise authority over a man.…For it was Adam who was created first, and then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:12–13)? Or are these things auxiliary, optional points of submission to Christ's will? Should we only have to submit to the general, "essential" truths of who Jesus is? Shouldn't we be able to have a Christ who fits with my preferences and sensibilities? I mean, quite frankly, it sounds like we're saying the Gospel is racist and sexist. Next, you're going to tell me it's anti-gay, too!
The Gospel has sharp edges which nick and jab each culture's particular rebellion against God. When Stephen preached in Jerusalem, he preached to those who had literally rejected and murdered the Son of God. In his preaching he did not shy away from that particular point of tension. Quite the opposite, he capitalized on it. He drove the Word of God so firmly into their conscience at the point of their rebellion that they killed him for it. (See Acts 7.) When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens, he also went straight for a tender spot: he called the Athenians ignorant and advanced the authority of one true God and one moral standard over and against their polytheistic idolatry (Acts 17).
The Gospel is easy to accept in its generalities. Everyone wants some kind of messiah, some kind of savior. (Why else do you think we watch superhero movies?) But when we come face to face with a real man, Jesus Christ, The Messiah, The Savior, suddenly, submission to the Gospel becomes a fearful and terrible thing, not a therapeutic abstract reality. When we stand face to face with the Mediator, and what He requires us to acknowledge when we acknowledge Him—and no one else—as King, we balk. We think twice. We recoil. That is, unless, of course, God has opened our eyes to the horrible reality of slavery to sin. If God has caused us to be sick of the deception of sin and the bondage of rebellion against His will, then the news of Christ's incarnation will be the most liberating and revitalizing news we have ever received! And joyful submission to the Savior and love for His person in every detail becomes our very identity.