One of the great “mysteries” of Christianity is the dual divinity and humanity of Jesus the Christ. In our last article, we spoke briefly of how Jesus Himself claimed, unapologetically, to be divine, and why we should accept that claim. This week, let us look at the other side of the coin.
The apostle John, who so forcefully argued for the divinity of Jesus in John 1:1-3, was also equally blunt concerning the humanity of Jesus, writing: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14; NKJV)
The Gospel writers are each clear in their depiction of the humanity of Jesus. They speak of Him being tired and asleep (cf. Mark 4:38). They speak of Him being hungry (cf. Matthew 4:2). They speak of Him bleeding (cf. John 19:34). And they all talk about Him dying (cf. Luke 23:46). Such things are not events which afflict God; but they are extremely common to the human experience.
This is a great wonder: that Jesus was both God and Man. Without a doubt, it was a step down for Jesus to take on flesh as He did. The Scriptures teach us of this, “[he] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8; ESV) Being human was a humbling thing for Jesus, an event which required Him to divest Himself of His full divine glory and ultimately suffer cruelly. As human, Jesus shared fully in what it means to be human, so that we read, “in all things He had to be made like His brothers,” (Hebrews 2:17) and “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15; NKJV)
Considering this, then, it might be remarkable to some to consider the attitude Jesus had and has towards being a part of the company of man. The inspired writer of the book of Hebrews noted what the Old Testament had to say about this matter, and commented, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’” (Hebrews 2:11-12; ESV)
Jesus, he says, is not ashamed to call us brothers.
Let us think about that, and what that should mean to us.
We often look at the human experience through the eyes of pride and selfishness. We are aware of our failings, our foibles, our pains, and our weaknesses. We are ashamed, sometimes, to be part of the human family, embarrassed at our own collective shortcomings. We give up on ourselves and denigrate ourselves, and thus fall even further from what we could be.
Yet God Himself, taking on human flesh, sharing in those weaknesses and collective failings, because of his humility, was able to rise above those weaknesses and achieve perfection; and in that humility, He is not ashamed to be human. The dichotomy of expectations is not just that God was able to be human, but that it was in total humility He found value in being human.
It is a marvelous thing that Jesus has shared in our humanity; and it is even more marvelous that He has no shame about being counted part of the human family; rather, joining in with us, in faith, He is pictured as worshiping God in the midst of the family of God, whom He calls brothers.
When we think about what it means to be human, we must consider Jesus, who was the perfect man. He was everything that God wanted in His creation, in righteousness, wisdom and love. And Jesus achieved these things, not in spite of the frailty of being human, but because He was willing to humble Himself before God, embrace what it meant to be human, and submit Himself fully to
God in all things, saying, “Father into your hands, I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46; cf. Hebrews 2:13-18)
If you would like to learn more about this Jesus, who is not ashamed to call you brother, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.