Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why His Humanity Matters

I once listened to a theologian give an hour-long presentation on a point of New Testament doctrine.  He spoke with passion.  He waved his arms.  He used Greek and Hebrew words and even threw in some Aramaic.  He was fully involved.  Then came the time for questions.  I couldn’t resist:

“I can see you feel strongly about this point,” I said.  “But may I ask, why does this matter?  Why is it significant?”

The PhD. stared blankly for a moment. He straightened his notes and stammered, “Well, I . . . uh . . . It’s--well, I just think it’s something we should know.”

Correct doctrine is important, but correct doctrine divorced from any significant connection to our lives is useless--perhaps worse than useless because we settle for head-knowledge without encountering our destiny with God.  Truth may be written on paper, but its true arena is in human lives.

That’s why church desperately needs to understand the humanity of Jesus.  Jesus--God-the-Son--was and is a human being.  His humanity matters to us now.  Any sincere Christ-follower needs to embrace the humanity of Jesus not only as a doctrine, but also as a life-giving reality day by day.  From the beginning God the Father has loved . . . people!  He made people, he talks to people, and he accomplishes his work through people.  The humanity of Jesus is not so much an exceptional act of God as it is the crowning act of God.  Consider these four highlights from the Old Testament:

In Creation, God spoke the world into existence--but he fashioned humanity with a personal touch, using his own hands.  God kissed the breath of life into the first man.  Every other living being came into existence by the command of God.  Humanity, however, breathes the very breath of God.  God created a garden, and gave it to . . . people: the man and the woman.

In Restoration, God chose a man.  The first twelve chapters of Genesis describe the decay of creation.The very earth itself became sick because of sin and rebellion released in the earth by . . . people.  Yet God’s solution was to select a man, Abraham.  Genesis 12: 1 - 3 reveal that when God chose to set things right, he chose a man. Abraham not perfect but he was part of God’s solution.

In Exodus, God spoke from a burning  bush, but he acted through . . . people.  The Voice in the bush declared, “I have seen their suffering, I have heard their cries, and I have come down to deliver them.” (Exodus 3: 7 - 8)  But God immediately said to Moses, “So go now, I am sending you . . .” (v. 10)  God chose to speak through a man, to work through a man, and to lead through a man.

When Isaiah caught a vision of Heaven, the very first words spoken by the Almighty were, “Whom shall I send?” (Isaiah 6: 8) Isaiah may have been snatched up into heaven, but he awoke with an earthy mission, to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  In one sense it didn’t matter whether Isaiah was qualified for the job, because he had been commissioned by God.  Israel heard the words of God through a human--Isaiah.

It should be no surprise then, that when God Himself wanted to accomplish the redemption of the whole earth, He did so through a man.  Jesus, 100% God, was also 100% man.  The religious authorities in his day could not accept the idea that a man could  forgive sin, that a man could open the eyes of the blind, or that a man could cleanse lepers with a touch. Sin, blindness and leprosy were contagious, men should flee from them all!  But the Man Jesus Christ came with a heavenly contagion that set the oppressed free.

We need to see that God’s method, revealed in scripture, is to use humanity in the earth.  Before Jesus, God partnered with men.  In Jesus, God sent a man.  And after Jesus, he commissioned men, “Go therefore into all the world . . .” (Matthew 28:18) Why is this significant? We need to see that God has always chosen to work through humanity to accomplish his purposes in the earth.  Jesus, our model, demonstrated the potential of a human life lived in total submission to the Father.  Jesus healed and taught and discipled not by virtue of his divine nature but by the grace of being a Man fully submitted to God.  He didn’t raise the dead because he was the Boss’ Son, he did so to display the full potential of a human life in partnership with God.

To grasp the humanity of Jesus is to grasp the hope that Christlikeness is possible for each of us.  His intention is to reproduce Himself in the lives of his followers, to launch a community of God’s sons and daughters capable of the kind of character and power demonstrated by the only begotten Son of God.  God only ‘fathered” one son, but He wants to adopt untold more, and each adopted child can possess the same family privileges as their older brother.

The work that began in the Garden with Adam and Eve reached perfection in Jesus Christ, but it continues through us to this very day--if we choose to live it out.


  1. Great blog! I think the enemy most definitely uses as skewed doctrine of Christ's divinity to keep God's servants at a mediocre and stagnant state. It is fascinating to me how selfish we as humans can be because even with a head knowledge of knowing that people need the love of Christ, we are restrained by any number of excuses and "situations". Let our hearts be filled with the knowledge of Christ's divine humanity so we may do the work of the Father.

  2. Thanks, Stewplay. I especially like your last sentence: "Let our hearts be filled with the knowledge of Christ's divine humanity so we may do the work of the Father."

  3. Thanks, Stewplay. I especially like your last sentence: "Let our hearts be filled with the knowledge of Christ's divine humanity so we may do the work of the Father."