Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Humanity of Jesus

Because God’s children are human beings-made of flesh and blood-the Son also became flesh and blood.  For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.  (Heb 2:14 NLT)

Do you ever have trouble relating to God?  We all do at one time or another.  And why shouldn't we, He is after all the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.  Although we are fearfully and wonderfully made, (see my earlier post Wonderfully Made, July 2013), there is still a gap between us and God.  So the question becomes, how do we overcome the gap?

Overcoming this gap takes time and effort on our part but God did provide us the means.  Scripture is one of these means, as is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Both of these are topics unto themselves but I want to look at this from another perspective.  That perspective is the humanity of Jesus.  Not a simple concept to be sure and one that has been argued, both for and against, since Jesus spent time here on Earth. 

There are a number of examples in scripture that point toward the humanity of Jesus:
·         Although His conception was unique, there is nothing in scripture that indicates His development in Mary’s womb was different than a normal baby.  Or that His birth was any different than a normal baby. (Matt 1 and Luke 2)
·         Jesus was circumcised. (Luke 2:21)
·         Jesus experienced the same physical limitations and had the same physiology as men:
o   Hunger (Matt 4:2)
o   Thirst (John 19:28)
o   Fatigue (John 4:6)
·         Jesus experienced normal human emotions:
o   Love (John 11:3;13:23)
o   Compassion (Matt 9:36; 14:14, 20:34)
o   Joy (John 15:11)
o   Anger (Mark 3:5)
o   Amazement (Luke 7:9)
o   Loss and sorrow at the loss of John the Baptist (Matt 14:13) and Lazarus (John 11: 33-35)

The humanity of Jesus is also on prominent display in the Garden of Gethsemane and in His crucifixion.  In the Garden we find that Jesus was deeply distressed about what was coming and earnestly praying.  He is asking, almost begging, that He might be able to avoid what was coming, more than once.  Through this He is in so much anguish about what is coming that “His sweat became like drops of blood.”  We also find Him troubled in that He has to repeatedly wake His friends who he had asked to pray with Him.  (Mark 14:34-41; Luke 22:41-46)

Aspects of His humanity found in the crucifixion include:  Pain and humiliation, as crucifixion was designed to embody.  Thirst. (John 19:28)  Abandonment and despair in His experiencing divine wrath. (Matt 27:46)  Concern for His mother. (John 19:26-27)  The ultimate expression of His humanity on the cross is His death. (Matt 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30)  In showing that Jesus had actually died we see the blood and water issue forth when His side is pierced by the spear. (John 19:34)  This separation of blood and water is understood to represent death by modern medicine.

Additional we are warned against those who would claim that Jesus was not fully human.  That any who claim that He was not fully human are labeled as deceivers, they are even said to be in the spirit of the antichrist. (1 John 4:2-3 and 2 John 7)

As you can see there are plenty of examples to be found in scripture supporting the fact that Jesus was fully human and He fully embraced being human.  He embraced it so fully and completely that He was even able to complete one of the most important facets of His time on Earth, He was able to die.  God cannot die.  But Jesus did, for us. 

The death of Jesus is amazingly important because if Jesus didn't become fully human, He didn't die.  If Jesus didn't die, then we are not saved.  This point is addressed for us in Hebrews 2:14, “For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.

How does the humanity of Jesus make it easier to relate to God?  Simple, it is much easier to relate to another human than a being outside our realm of experience.  Well maybe not simple, but definitely true.  Jesus Himself claimed that any who had seen Him, had seen the Father.  (John 12:45 and 14:9)

In his book Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge puts it this way, “It will do your heart good to discover that Jesus shares in your humanity. He was, as the creeds insist, fully human. (Yes, yes – more than that to be sure. But never ever less than that.) I’m sure the chipmunks made him laugh. The Pharisees sure made him furious. He felt joy, weakness, sorrow. The more we can grasp his humanity, the more we will find him someone we can approach, know, love, trust, and adore.”

As you continue on your spiritual journey, look at the humanity of Jesus in the bible.  Embrace the fact that Jesus was fully human.  God wants us to seek Him out and to know Him.  Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust Me, you are trusting not only Me, but also God who sent me.  For when you see Me, you are seeing the one who sent Me.” (John 12:44-45 NLT)  Use this as a stepping stone toward a better, closer relationship with both Jesus and with God. 

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