The first thing most Christians think of is “Son of God” or “Messiah.” The one whose birth was announced by angels. The one who had an impossible beginning because he was not conceived in the normal, human way… his mother happened to be a virgin. After his birth, God aligned the cosmos so that a star showed some astrologers where to find this amazing kid who then grew into an amazing adult. He was the one who resisted temptation directly from the devil. The one who demons know as the “Holy One of God.” (Luke 4:3) The one who spoke to dead, limp, lifeless muscles that had never been used and caused them to strengthen, grow and support weight. The one who stood on the edge of a boat and told the storm to give it a rest so they could all get some sleep… to which the storm immediately responded with silence. The one who caused food to multiply with no physical explanation. The one who surrendered himself to be sacrificed, spent three days sealed in a tomb and then got up and walked out. The one who was fully God. As followers of Jesus, we are told to go out and do greater things than Jesus did? Impossible. We’re human. But the thing that we so easily forget is… so was Jesus.
It’s too easy to focus on Jesus as a member of the Trinity and to forget that Jesus was also entirely human. He went through the same ordinary, human processes of growing up that we did. He grew from a helpless baby, to a mischievous toddler, to an inquisitive child, to a hormonal teenager, to an adult with a regular job… and finally to a rabbi (the “ministry” part of Jesus’ life only started when he was thirty). Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus sympathizes with our human weaknesses because he lived them.
Hindsight is an amazing tool; we are able to grasp the big picture of Jesus in a way that people at the time wouldn’t have been able to. We can see how he fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. We have record of all of the works and letters of the apostles explaining Christian theology. The disciples at the time were around Jesus in regular human situations and it was natural for them to see him as a man. He ate with them, laughed with them, got weary, fell asleep, built fires, got blisters on his feet, had bad breath, had body odor, sneezed, needed haircuts, had to use the toilet… basically Jesus had all the ordinary bodily functions just as all the disciples did. It took them a long time to be able to see past that, and to see that Jesus was also God’s Son.
The big difference between Jesus and other men (other than being, oh I don’t know, God’s only begotten Son) is that Jesus never sinned. If we go back a ways… then back a little more… then all the way back to the beginning (and I mean the very beginning)when God created people, he declared that we were good. God smiled as he watched us living out our lives, and related with us in perfect harmony. When sin entered the picture, that harmony was shattered. Jesus never sinned, so his life is a picture of what we were supposed to be. In other words, Jesus didn’t come to make us LESS human, he came to make us MORE human. Our humanity isn’t something to be shunned or suppressed. It’s beautiful and fun. It’s how God designed us. Unfortunately sin has come in and corrupted the wonderful way we were meant to be, but our original design is good. Sin is not inherently part of being human (although thanks to rebellious hearts, a serpent-who-shall-not-be-named and a piece of fruit, we are kind of stuck in sin for the moment) and one day we’ll be the ultimate redeemed humans just the way Jesus is now.
Accepting that Jesus is the ultimate picture of redeemed humanity means that we can be comfortable in our own skins. God doesn’t get frustrated by our human ways and He doesn’t think our quirks are annoying. He delights in us, and knows exactly how we feel because He’s been there. I like to think about that sometimes. What was Jesus’ personality like? Was he funny? What made him laugh? Was he a perfectionist? How did he do in school? What natural talents did he have? What activity was he bad at? What landscapes made him catch his breath in awe? Was there food that he didn’t enjoy? Did he snore? Did his feet smell weird?
What was Jesus like as a human?
Realizing that Jesus completely relates with our humanity is great too because it means Jesus isn’t a disconnected God. He gets us. When I bring the things before God and ask forgiveness I tend to think, Wow… I really hope I’m not annoying God right now. But yay! Jesus doesn’t see us as weak or frustrating. He’s not up in heaven going “Seriously, you’re asking me for this again?” Instead, he welcomes us into his presence in whatever state we’re in. He never gets tired of telling us how much He loves us and that He forgives us. He doesn’t want us to approach his presence through the back door so we can touch his garment, receive healing and just run away. Hebrews 14:6 says we can confidently approach God’s throne and receive grace. Confidently, knowing that Jesus has compassion on us, and embraces our humanity.
Let’s start living in a new way- embracing our humanity and our personalities because Jesus does. We don’t need to suppress ourselves and strive for a dry holiness that is unachievable and is honestly not very enjoyable. If God made you funny, it’s ok to laugh and to make other people laugh. In fact, it’s great, you should do it a lot. I think Jesus had a lot of laughs with his disciples… people loved being around him. Living with the Holy Spirit will naturally reveal and work on character flaws, so it’s ok to trust that and start living fully in the here and now using the gifts and traits that Jesus has given us. And to know that Jesus loves our humanity. We were created in the image of God. What God made is good. It’s really good! Embrace it.