In companion with our “God Is” series we launched our “Jesus Is” series last week and discovered that Jesus is fully God like the Father is fully God and that he is the Divine Creator of all things. Unlike his Father (and us) however, Jesus has both a divine nature and a human nature. Today, we take a minute to look at the human nature of Jesus.
Jesus’ human nature is clearly taught in the Scriptures. In the prologue of his Gospel John writes (1:14)
The Word became flesh and lived with us.
In his epistle John adds (I John 1:1)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
Paul writes in Galatians 4:4
When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.
In what is known as the first hymn of the early church, Paul tell us in Philippians 2:5-8
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Colossians 2:9 and 1 John 4:2 speak of the physicality of Jesus
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
Every teaching that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
We are now over 2 millennia past the original Christmas. Thus, our natural tendency is to emphasize the divinity of Jesus over his humanity. So this week I asked some folks what the most wanted to know about the humanity of Jesus? The majority responded they wanted to know if he truly experienced the feelings we do? Indeed he did. Jesus wasn’t like a detached and emotionless robot acting human like Arnold Swarzenegger’s terminator did in the greatest movie of all time, “The Terminator.” Jesus wasn’t artificial intelligence and he wasn’t a ghost in a shell, or as the Germans put it, “Ex Dues Machina.” He was truly human and as such he experienced every human emotion. For instance, Jesus lived, laughed, cried and died. The prophet Isaiah didn’t call him “a man of great sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3) for nothing. However, he also experienced happiness and bliss. Furthermore, he was thoughtful, empathetic, sympathetic, compassionate, and caring. He exhibited courage, boldness, fear, and disgust. He had a wonderful sense of humor as he was constantly needling his disciples – most of the time calling them big babies. He experienced the pain of rejection and ridicule, loneliness and isolation. Betrayal (thanks Judas) and temptation (yet with no sin-Hebrews 4:15). He had his share of friends and enemies.
However, although he experienced the full-range of emotions he never let them control his attitude or cause him to do something he might regret. In this way, Jesus had tremendous emotional intelligence, i.e., self-awareness in that he knew what he felt and why he felt it. Therefore, he could manage his emotions before they managed him. Moreover, his personality was the perfect blend of extravert-ism and introvert-ism and being task oriented and people oriented. He also had spiritual intelligence, social intelligence, and relational intelligence (excluding marriage intelligence, because he was smarter than we are lol).
He also had intelligent intelligence in that as God he knew everything but as human he had to learn everything. As Luke 2:52 tells us, Jesus “Grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” He also had physical intelligence. The Greek word “techna” means craftsman and infers that Jesus was proficient in the trades of his day, not just carpentry. In other words, he was more of a general contractor and as such, he had the skills to pay the bills. Heck, he even had culinary skills as he made breakfast for his disciples. Just like us, however, he had to get up every day and grind out a living even before he began his public ministry at the age of 30. Thus, he got tired, bored and on occasion, frustrated.
Jesus experienced the personal issues we do. As a biological organism, he had to blow his nose, brush his teeth, take baths, make trips to the restroom, sleep, eat, and even clip his toenails (deodorant?). It almost sounds irreverent to point out these things but they are certainly true.
Moreover, Jesus experienced the dynamics of aging. Although we know nothing of his life from the ages of 12-30 we do know that he was an infant, toddler, and grew through pre-pubescence, puberty, adolescence, early adult, and adulthood along with all the growing pains associated with that process. At the age of 33 he laid down his life for us on the Cross. From our perspective that’s not only tragic but way too young. However, life expectancy in his day was only 35. Now, I’m not suggesting he was ready for the nursing home or assisted living, but he was well past his physical peak at his death. Thus, he endured, much like we do today, all the bumps, bruises, and incumbrances of aging. Although he had power to heal himself there is no evidence he did and my bet is he didn’t. Remember, he laid aside his “omni” qualities to truly experience what it meant to be human.
In sum, Jesus was as “flesh and blood” in every way we are, in every way possible. Of course, the biggest difference being that he was perfect, sinless, and flawless, and we, not so much. Jesus was the perfect man. But why? Why did God even bother to become human with all of its weaknesses and vulnerabilities, limitations and ignominy? I mean, at the end of the day, being human kind of sucks, you know, with that mortality rate always hovering around 100%? There are many reasons, which we will flesh out in the remainder of our series, but for now let’s cover two.
A Theological Reason. Jesus created the physical world as “good” with humans as the crescendo of his creative acts. Jesus taking on a physical body and then rising from the dead physically, signals that his creation is still good and will be fully restored in the New Heavens and New Earth. This is why God didn’t send an angel, or another kind of medium, to save us. Instead, he sent us his Son, the Perfect Man.
A Practical Reason. Scripture tells us that we are “Fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and made just a “Little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5). Paul said in I Timothy 4:8, “Physical exercise is of some value, but godliness has value in all things.” Thus, it is God glorifying to exercise and eat right as, and to do so both as an atomic habit and spiritual exercise! God cares about how we treat our bodies so for some of you it’s time to get active and turn that mush into muscle. We are not to neglect them or do anything to purposely to abuse them (10 hours of screen time per day-yuck).
By far Jesus is the most fascinating person of all. He is truly divine and truly human, the perfect Son of God and perfect Son of Man. Let’s be in awe of who he is and praise him forevermore. Amen!