Flesh can refer to the skin with its substrate of tissue, tendon and muscle, or it can be a synonym for the body as a whole. The Bible also uses the term for the being of mankind as in; “. . the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . .” (John 1:4) Jesus did not become spirit. The Word was not made soul. Those expressions weren’t used because they are inadequate for a general description. Flesh defines us though we are body, soul, and spirit. It defines us because it is the most visible to us. The flesh requires a universe to inhabit; an earth with sky, dry land and seas, night and day, vegetation, insects, animals, fish, sun, moon and stars.
The flesh prevails upon the infant’s need,
Without restraint becomes rapacious greed.
We might be concerned with height and fat,
But to keep a cool head, we need a hat.
Or to complete the course at end of day,
After prayers are said, on pillow we stay.
E’en Jesus who came to save from the burn,
Slept through the waves and the wind’s toss and turn.
By dusty roads traveled, He taught to heed.
On the cross for our sake He had to bleed.
The flesh defines us because it is through the flesh our spiritual intentions are made known.
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, not made “something like flesh”, but the real deal. He became one of us.
Rom. 1:3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh…
Gal. 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law…
Phil. 2:6-8 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Heb. 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. . .
The world of flesh is man’s habitation and Satan’s turf. This is where redemption had to be accomplished. Redemption was not based on some vaporous wish or a phantasm acting out a scene. Faithfulness to God had to prevail in a realm where faithlessness reigned. Therefore the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Salvation depended upon someone beyond ourselves. Jesus was something more than the Son of Man. Gabriel spoke to Mary; “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Lk.1:35) This Being, this Redeemer at once possessed the advantage to fulfill and the capacity to ruin everything in God’s eternal purpose. Wasn’t that the reality when flesh was wedded to the power of creation? He was subjected to temptation for our sake. There was no other way to save us. He had to become one of us to do the thing we could not do (overcome), and to give us something we could not develop ourselves (strength).
His work was to keep the Father’s will. The Father’s will was for Jesus to bear the burden of our sins even unto death. It wasn’t just to bear, it was to sustain God’s spirit of good will and mercy through the dark ordeal. No other man could do that. Through His obedience He has made a way for us to follow. He has become a yoke fellow with all who come to Him. He is brother, mediator, advocate, giver of the Comforter. All are advantages we did not posses before He came.
There is something about our flesh that makes obedience real. Let us not speculate about the nature of angels and how obedience was laid upon them. Let us look at the facts of our fleshly existence. We can appreciate the righteousness of God. We have spirit. Man can be dedicated to fulfilling the purpose of God and live under whatever covenant he was born (whether the times before Sinai, time under the Law, or the dispensation of grace and truth). We have soul. But the proof, the reality, the communication before heaven and earth comes through the flesh. We have flesh. Without redemption we stand ashamed. God requires the subjection of the body in obedience. He requires our inner man to master the flesh. This was true in the innocence of Eden, it is just as true in the way of the cross.
1Pet. 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. . .