'The human Jesus'

Wednesday Reflection

25th November 2020

'...and becoming like men'

6 who, though he was God,
  did not demand and cling
  to his rights as God,
7 but laid aside his mighty
  power and glory,
  taking the disguise of a slave
  and becoming like men.

.....Philippians 2:6-7 TLB

In 1995 Joan Osbourne
released her debut album.
Who was Joan Osbourne?
I hear some of you asking.
I doubt you would remember
her name but you might
remember one of the songs
on the album which
subsequently became a hit;
'What if God were one of us?'

It wonderfully (if irreverently)
captures the meaning of this
difficult verse from Philippians.

The Christian understands
what the song is really about,
because God was, in fact,
one of us.

The song is asking us
to consider the humanity of Jesus.
Jesus did become a human being.
He deliberately took on
very real 'non-God' weaknesses,
temptations, needs and emotions.

We can infer,
from Paul's comment
(together with what little
we know of Jesus' childhood)
that Jesus developed as
a normal person.

He cried when he was hungry;
he slept, and had to be taught
the basic skills that
every child needs to learn,
to develop into a rounded adult.

In some ways he was
more than human;
he astonished his listeners
on his ability to expound
Scripture when
he was 12yrs old;
but in some ways,
he was no different from us.

The most important aspects
of his humanity deal with
his crucifixion.
Jesus did not face his torture
and death with
a smug smile on his face,
as a god might do.

He did not have
universal knowledge;
he did not have a special way
of sensing that
he would rise again.
Rather he went to the Cross
as a matter of faith;
God the Father instructed him to do it,
and instructed him
concerning his divinity.

But Jesus prayed
to his Father that
he might not have to do it -
but was still ready
to obey his Father's will.

 if you are willing,
 take this cup from me;
 yet not my will,
 but yours be done."

..... Luke 22:42

But why did God choose
to come to earth in a form
'a little lower than the angels'
(Hebrews 2.7)?

Just consider the benefits;
first it made Jesus
the model of faith.

Facing torture and crucifixion
means more to us
when we consider that Jesus
suffered as a
matter of faith in the Father,
rather than in the
absolute knowledge of his
resurrection that would come
from divine omniscience.

It also gives us,
in our weakness,
more confidence in his
empathy for us.

We know Jesus suffered exactly
the way we suffer.
He suffered as a human being.
He was afraid!
Absence of fear is not courage;
courage is demonstrated
by acting positively
in spite of fear,

And the greater the fear,
the more extreme the courage
and ultimately the more powerful
the demonstration of faith.

Does God really know
what it's like to feel cold
with no shelter,
to be so hungry
one wants to steal,
or to feel the fear of death?

Does he really know,
sitting up there in heaven,
Yes, he really does,
because he made himself
vulnerable and ignorant,
to prove it to us.

Another lesson we might learn
from Jesus' humanity
is that it is not a sin
to be human.

We know for a fact
that Jesus slept,
got hungry, ate and wept.
He had friends;
he enjoyed companionship.

It is not a sin
to feel grief
when a loved one dies;
it does not show a lack of faith.

How can we say this
with assurance?
Because 'Jesus wept',
(John 11:35)
when his friend Lazarus died.

So when Christmas comes
(and it's not so far away)
we can celebrate
the humanity of Jesus.

We are not compelled
to love an abstract God;
we can love a human being as well.