A gracEmail subscriber asks: “Did Jesus Christ have a body before he became a man?”
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Next door to me live Jesus, his wife and their son Jesus. Grandpa Jesus lives across the street. Although “Jesus” is a common Latino name it is rarely used among Anglos like myself. (Interestingly, both practices express the same intent, namely to show respect for Jesus Christ.) We therefore need to be reminded that the designation “Jesus Christ” includes both a name, “Jesus” (from the Hebrew “Yeshua,” also translated “Joshua” in English), and a title, “Christ” (Greek for “The Anointed,” or “Messiah” from the Hebrew). The virgin Mary had a baby and she named him “Jesus.” He grew up to become “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Just as I was not “Edward” until I was born (or at least conceived), Jesus Christ was not “Jesus” until he was born or at least was conceived.
Although Jesus Christ and I share in common the fact that neither of us existed as human beings before at least we were conceived by our mothers, in other ways we are very different. Jesus Christ had no earthly father (Matt.1:18-25). All the fulness of deity resided in him in bodily form (Col. 2:9). He was the eternal, divine Word of God that “became flesh” (John 1:14). He was more than man (who, as man, had a beginning before which, as man, he did not exist) For this reason Jesus Christ could say, “before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). He could speak to God the Father of “the glory which I ever had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5).
Whether we think of Jesus the man, or of the eternal Word of God that became man through the womb of the virgin Mary, the answer to your question is the same. On the one hand, since the man Jesus Christ did not exist before he became a man in Mary’s womb, he certainly did not have a body before then. Indeed, God prepared a body specifically for Jesus to become a human being (Heb. 10: 5-7). On the other hand, since the eternal Word that became human was God, and since God is spirit (John 4:24), and since a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), the eternal Word did not have a body until it received one in the womb of the virgin Mary. But in that body Jesus the Christ lived a life of faithful covenant obedience to the Father, then by his death presented that obedient life to the Father for us, setting us right with God and becoming our mediator and Savior (Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 2:14-17).