Born to die, Raised so we can live: The humanity of Jesus
Click on the picture and get ready to laugh!
I might risk a stoning by saying this, but it needs to be said if we are ever going to learn how to truly live. The miracles of Jesus were not born out of His divinity; the miracles of Jesus came out of His true humanity. Too often we ascribe Jesus’ actions and abilities to His divinity. When we read that Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, lived without sin, and raised the dead, it is easy to say, “Of course he could do that; he’s God.” Yet when we read that He wept, was moved with compassion, and loved even those who wanted to kill Him, we often believe these to be proofs of His humanity. What if it isn’t so black and white? What if Jesus came not merely to die, but to show us how to live?
God is omnipresent (everywhere), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). These are attributes or privileges exclusive to God. If you had any of those characteristics, you would be God. When God the Son became a human being over 2000 years ago, he made huge sacrifices. This is often called The Humiliation of Christ. No, there was no one beside His manger heckling him and trying to humiliate Him. The Humiliation of Christ is about Jesus becoming humble by giving up His rights and privileges as God and becoming a weak, ignorant, and finite man. He chose not to be everywhere; instead He placed Himself in time and space. He chose not to be all-powerful; instead, He was weak and vulnerable. He chose not to be all-knowing; at times He didn’t even know where He would sleep and what He would eat that night. Jesus demonstrated humility for us.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a slave, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)
On the night of His birth, He was no longer everywhere, but sleeping in a trough in a cave in Bethlehem. He was no longer all-powerful, but needed to be swaddled just to keep warm. He was no longer all-knowing, but needed to “be filled with wisdom.” (Luke 2:40) He was fully human.
I am not saying Jesus was not fully God. I am saying He gave up His divine attributes so He could be fully human. At any moment in His life, Jesus could have taken back His privileges as God, but if He chose to do so, He would not be fully human any longer. As He was being arrested in Gethsemane, Jesus told the disciples to put away their swords, explaining, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)
Jesus’ divinity is also found in His temptations. Can any of us turn stones to bread? Or command angels? Yet Satan tempted Jesus with these things because he knew Jesus could do them if He chose to let go of His humanity and take back His divine attributes. Because He had access to divine attributes, Jesus was fully God. The fact that He chose to limit Himself proves not that He was only partly God; if anything it proves He was fully God because only God could put limits on Himself.
The fact that Jesus remained human to the bitter end – even enduring a humiliating death on the cross – is all the more remarkable considering that He did this without the benefit of His divine powers. I suspect that if I was in the same position, I’d be calling the Heaven Hotline the first time I got a paper cut and, in between sobs, saying “Daddy, send your angels to take me back home. I got a scroll cut and it hurts like hell.” Jesus endured human suffering for our sake.
Jesus died for us, but many of us don’t understand that Jesus lived for us too. He lived as an example for us of how we should live. Most people stand in awe of what Jesus did, but rather than standing in awe, open-mouthed in a puddle of our own drool doing nothing, Jesus challenged us to live a full, abundant life in Him (John 10:10) and live as he lived, doing what He did. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12) How can we do greater things than raise the dead? There are two possibilities:
1. After Jesus paved the way of salvation for all of us with His death and resurrection, He went “to the Father,” going back to heaven. Then He sent the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 2, who worked through the apostles to convert 3000 people in one day. That is the greatest work of all. Healing the body and raising the dead is great; saving souls from eternal damnation is greater. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to bring salvation to others, we are doing even greater things than Jesus who had to die to make salvation even possible.
2. Jesus was one man who influenced one small region in a much less-populated world than today. Since there are more of us spread out to the ends of the earth with over 7 billion people, we are now able to do exponentially more things for God. In other words, the works are not greater; they are just greater in number with millions of Christians now doing the work as the body of Christ.
My point is this: Jesus did many great works on earth, but He did so as a man of God rather than as the Son of God. If we truly believe that Jesus was fully human, we can also believe that we will do greater things as His disciples because the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead lives inside of us today. If we become dependent on the Holy Spirit as He was, we will become more fully human ourselves. Then the world can be changed one loved person at a time. Jesus died so that we might live; Jesus lived so that we might live by His example.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” ― G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World
If we would just be so bold as to pray for healing and help the hurting, we might truly see greater things as the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead raised, the lost found. And as He makes us more human, we might find that we once were naked, blind, deaf, dead, and lost ourselves, but for the grace of God. Go in that grace and serve humanity.