This week we begin with Question 22 of the New City Catechism, found in Part 2 (questions 21-35), which focuses on Christ, redemption, and grace.
Question 22: Why must the Redeemer be truly human?
Answer: That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.
As a man, Jesus Christ obeyed God’s law perfectly. He is described as one who knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21). If he had sinned, he would have been unqualified to atone for our sins. In that case, he would have had to make atonement for himself and could not have substituted for us. In addition, his perfect righteousness could not be credited to us, since it would not have existed.
It is interesting to read the story of Jesus’ temptations in Luke 4:1-13. Notice particularly in this story how Jesus succeeds where Adam failed. Although Adam was in Paradise, he nevertheless allowed the devil to lead his wife, and consequently himself, astray. By contrast, Jesus was in a desert, but his trust in the Father left him unmoved by the appeals the devil made to him. Luke is telling us that Jesus is the true and last Adam, the faithful Son whose obedience brings restoration to the human race.
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Luke 3:23-4:13. How is the term “son of God” used in 3:38? How is it used in 4:3? Do you think Luke intends us to make a connection there? What is his point?