The Humanness of Jesus
Recently I was reading through the Gospels (the accounts of Jesus’ life), and I was struck by the humanity of Jesus. I was reading these verses, ‘John’s disciples came and took his body (i.e. John the Baptist’s body) and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place…’ (Matthew 14:12-13). Did you take that in? When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place…’. What struck me was Jesus’ desire to get away when he heard the news. It’s as if he felt the need to take a break in that moment from whatever he was doing, and simply process this loss. I think Jesus was grieving over the violent death (Matthew 14:10) of his blood relative (Luke 1:36, 57, 60). I could be wrong. Perhaps Jesus was confronted by the violent end of a man who preached the same message as he did (Compare Matthew 3:2 with Matthew 4:17), knowing that he would one day endure something far more violent from the religious leaders (Matthew 16:21). Either way, we get a very human picture of Jesus here. Jesus seems to feel the need to withdraw so that he can process what had happened with his Father in prayer (side note: I love how the Father was his ‘safe place’).
I think sometimes in our zeal for the divinity of Jesus we lose sight of the humanity of Jesus. We often confess Jesus is Lord, but how often do we confess he was human? We need to hold to both his divinity and his humanity if we are going to comprehend the beauty of who he is and what he has done. When we grasp the humanity of Jesus, we begin to understand a little more about how he can empathise with us. ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). We must conclude from this verse that Jesus experienced temptation just as you and I have. He did not float through temptations and difficulties with the ease of divinity. He was actually tempted. And we can also say that he was impacted by life’s difficulties, sometimes deeply…. He grieved deeply over the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35), and he was affected by the news of the death of his relative, John the Baptist. Jesus was human. He felt pain just as you and I do.
For me, this makes God more accessible. When I look at the person of Jesus, I see someone who went through the same world, and experienced the same difficulties as I did, yet without sin. This makes Jesus’ victory all the more meaningful to me, because he felt the full difficulty of the struggle that led to it…. He knows our pain and more. He knows a whole world of pain that you and I will never have to experience because of his kindness toward us. ‘He was delivered over to death for our sins…’ (Romans 4:25). Wow. What kind of God would humble themselves to go through suffering and rejection and death? What kind of God would take on human limitations and weakness for the sake of others? The answer: Jesus. Funnily enough, the more I reflect on the humanity of Jesus, the more I want to worship him. His humanness doesn’t seem to diminish his divinity after all. It only makes me want to worship him more.
May we all know him more deeply,