In our day and age, there is little debate over the humanity of Jesus. It is a foregone conclusion that he is human, but alas he is often portrayed in modern scholarship as all too human. He is given the failures and the foibles of the mass of humanity. He is beset with the same temptations, but also the same sins as the rest of us. The old adage that “we are only human, born to make mistakes” applies also to Jesus, according to the left wing of biblical scholarship.
Our culture is not one that questions the truth of humanity, but instead it questions the truth of divinity. It is God who is in the docks for our culture, as C.S. Lewis aptly described. The culture has placed the very existence of God on trial, from Nietzsche’s proclamation that God is dead to the new atheists such as Richard Dawkins who purport to have pulled back the veil on transcendence to reveal… . nothing is there. They say there is nothing beyond our universe, because there is no beyond. The universe is the sum total of all that is. Now while it is obvious that this type of statement rests on a foundation of faith, as does our belief in God, the time we live in does not wish to see it that way. No, Jesus is only human and we are told we can be assured of that by modern liberal scholarship.
But in the evangelical church, it is often the humanity of Jesus that is under-developed. In a reaction to the rejection of the divine in the culture, the church elevates the divine nature in Jesus to such an extent that we risk losing his humanity. We affirm with our mouths that Jesus was 100% human, but might there be lurking in our subconscious a suspicion about that? Did Jesus have zits? Did Jesus’ voice crack as he went through puberty? Did Jesus really grow in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:52)? Did Jesus ever real wonder what the next day would bring (Matthew 24:36)? Did he ever feel alone, afraid, rejected, abandoned? Might there be a chair somewhere, in some house, which Jesus made as a carpenter? It is the everyday Jesus that we have a hard time embracing. We love the Jesus that walks on water, but we struggle with the Jesus who is sweating as he makes his way over the rugged roads from Jerusalem to Jericho.
You see, in our churches, we must recapture the full picture of Jesus both his divinity and his humanity which is the solidarity he has with the human race. Indeed, he was born of a virgin. But in that birth, Joseph most likely cut the umbilical cord that was nourishing the unborn son of God. Indeed Jesus walked on water and multiplied bread, but it was that same Jesus who had to drink the water he walked on and who had to eat the bread he multiplied in order to stay alive. Indeed, Jesus is the life, but it is the same Jesus who felt his life flow slowly out of his body as he hung on the cross suspended between heaven and earth on that most tragic, that most glorious, of days. Let us reclaim the humanity of Jesus for the Christian faith, for the human race. We must know that the blood that flowed through his veins was indeed human blood, the blood that would redeem the human race.
The human “race” becomes a fitting metaphor here. We have been racing from God, and yet in Christ, we find ourselves racing home. The promised son of Eve (Gen. 3:15) has arrived and the broken relationship is being restored in the man Jesus Christ. And as is the case with all races, the human race has a destination, a finish line of sorts, and it is not the one of which you are thinking. You know the one, out there somewhere in the future, at the end of time. No, the finish line, the destination of the human race is the God-man Jesus Christ!