Think about it for a second; what do you KNOW as a fact? That gravity exists, that two plus two will always equal four, that you can believe it’s not butter, the list goes on. But how often do we take those facts for granted? Most of us will never experience zero gravity, and those who have may find it thrilling but after a while it becomes a hassle to do every day activities. Then whenever you have gravity again you realize how it allows life on this planet to thrive. But what about spiritual facts? We often just believe them without really diving into the gravity (pun intended) of the fact. Facts like God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus was born of a virgin, etc, but the one I want to focus on is that Christ was fully God and fully human.
Christ was fully God and yet fully man. I for one have heard this for as long as I can remember, and often we focus on the God part, but not the man part. And if someone does talk about the man part, they’ll say something like “Christ was tempted in all the ways we were tempted, yet he did not sin” and then move on. Granted that statement is true, but what if we went a little deeper? Now I’m going to say from the beginning that everything I’m saying are just rambling thoughts I’ve had and that most of it is just me thinking out loud, so take it for what it is. I’m not trying to lay down some deep theological truth here, I’m just sharing thoughts that I’ve had.
|Doing a “Jesus Smiling” Google Image search is naturally the best way to start this off.|
The first four verses of the Gospel of John say in a nutshell that the Word (Jesus, aka God) became flesh. This implies that God himself became incarnate in human form. How exactly this works is something I will never understand, so the Incarnation itself is something I’m not going to try to understand (it’s called faith). I’m talking about Christ being fully human YET fully God. The duality of that very fact is one of the most intriguing things for me about Jesus. I believe the reason Jesus was such a magnetic figure to sinners was because of the dual nature of his humanity and his divinity working hand in hand. We as human beings are inherently drawn to our Creator in some way shape or form. Everyone has that deep desire to know our Creator, and many of us attribute that longing to other desires, but the truth of the matter is that it’s God himself calling out to our souls. Now imagine that personified in a human being. That was Jesus. How did the fact that he was God himself influence his human nature? It was shown in his character. Jesus was kind, loving, spiritual, wise, faithful, honest, merciful, righteous, patient, jealous and even wrathful. Looking at the Gospels you see every single one of these character traits in Jesus. But that is the God part, so what about the human?
When we say that Christ was fully man, many of us never really think about what that really means. Someone once said to me that he went through everything we have, and that really made me think. Imagine every temptation, thought, desire you’ve ever had. Imagine feeling lonely, depressed, misunderstood, angry, frustrated. Have you? Jesus felt the exact same things. He wasn’t an emotionless robot. We see his emotion all over the Gospels. Jesus had deeply emotional attachments to his disciples, his inner circle of Peter, James and John especially. He wept over his friend Lazarus, got angry in the temple, felt surprise and frustration. He even told John to look after his mother while he was dying on the cross. Those are deeply human moments. I wondered once if Jesus as a teenager ever had a crush on a girl. What if he did? And he knew that he could never have that life because he was called to a higher purpose? How did that make him feel? I know that’s a highly hypothetical idea and there’s no evidence of it ever happening in scripture, but just the thought of it really blew me away when thinking about the sacrificial nature of Christ, how he was able to put aside human desires and feelings when in pursuit of the will of the Father. But what about moments that we have scripture for?
In the Garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus in a state of turmoil, asking the Father if there is any other way besides him being sacrificed on the cross. It’s such a human moment that it’s almost uncomfortable. Many of us have read that story and just thought that maybe Jesus was being super spiritual. What I see is that the fully human Christ is afraid of what is coming. That may be unsettling and uncomfortable for some of us to think about, but if we look at Christ in that moment as a human being it’s clearly written on the walls: Jesus was afraid and at his most vulnerable and weak in that moment. That spoke volumes to me. I had never imagined Jesus like that. It’s so… human. None of us want to die. He knew that he was going to die, and die in one of the most torturous and painful ways ever devised in human history. Add on the fact God the Father was going to turn his back on him while he carried the sins of humanity, and he knew in moment, he would be truly alone, separate from his Father. That is an unbearable burden, and it was becoming too heavy for the human side of him to bear.
But then he says “Not my will, but thy will be done…”. We read this and as we silly humans do, we look at it out of context. We think, “That’s such a great truth for the Christian life! Always follow the will of God!”, but we ignore the fact that it came from the mouth of Christ at his weakest moment. It is easy for us to say “Thy will be done” when we’re thinking about doing things that we feel God is leading us to do like changing jobs or moving to a new city. Jesus on the other hand said this when the Father was telling him that it was His will for him to die and His back was going to be turned on him while experiencing the punishment for all the sins of humanity. And yet Jesus went to the cross all the same, knowing those facts. He followed the Father’s will DESPITE what it would cost him, which would ultimately be his life and complete spiritual abandonment. Christ was so driven by his love for the Father and his love for us that he pushed aside the fear and weakness and said “No matter the cost to me, I will do this for my Father and for them”. The “them” is us, humanity. The very people that hung him on the cross and deny him and betray him and curse him every single day. He did it for us so that we don’t have to experience what he experienced hung between Heaven and Hell: Desolation and complete separation from the Creator. I once heard a pastor say Jesus wasn’t afraid to die, that “My God isn’t a wimp,” and I agree with him. However, I don’t agree with him saying that when reading about the anguish Christ was going through asking for the cup to possibly pass from him. Fear is one of the most primal of human emotions, and for Christ to experience fear is to be fully human. Yet, he pushed the fear aside to die for the sake of us all. That is real bravery, knowing what it will cost and going ahead all the same. It’s more than just bravery; it’s love in it’s most pure and eternal form. Let that soak in.
The entire fact that Christ did all of that while fully human is so unbelievable that it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. If God himself had come down as fully God and went through everything he did while being a manifestation of deity the Gospels would not have the same effect. It would be like putting on an invincibility cheat code on a video game: you may get shot up on the final level, but in the end you never feel any pain. The fact that God made himself become fully man, fully susceptible to pain in every form physically and emotionally and did all of that just to be rejected by us time and time again is a testament to God’s love and sacrificial nature. He bled, wept, sweat, collapsed and ultimately died, for us. It blows my mind every time I think about it. Imagine that God is a teenage boy, and we are the pretty girl that he really really loves. He’s asked us to the dance. He sweat and toiled and bled to ask us to the dance. He’s tried over and over again to get our attention so that he would be the only one that we’d want to give our heart to. We’ve kept ignoring him and giving our love to other things. We’ve rejected him dance after dance, and yet there he is standing on our doorstep, looking at us with eyes that are begging us to love him with the passion that he loves us with. And he’s waiting for us to say yes or no.