All Too Human

Much dubious Christology derives from the fact that many of us have trouble accepting the spottiness of our own concrete humanity, and loving what God has thus fashioned. In this scenario, perfect human beings demonstrate their perfection by being as unlike us as possible. And so we picture Jesus in such a way that he becomes a living reproach to humanity rather than an easily recognizable expression. By thus elevating him, we unprofitably abase ourselves and create a distance between us and him that defeats the purpose of the incarnation.
-Michael Casey, Fully Human, Fully Divine

During the years of Jesus’ life and ministry and in the few years immediately following his resurrection no one doubted the humanity of Jesus. He was obviously a human being. What people had to come to grips with was his divinity. But soon after, as Christianity began to develop, the opposite problem began to occur. Christians had no problem believing that Jesus was God, but they doubted his humanity. That problem remains with us today.

But to doubt the humanity of Jesus is to profoundly misunderstand what the Incarnation (and thus salvation!) is all about.

I have no doubt that most Christians don’t really want a truly human Jesus. They want God in human disguise. And I suspect this has something to do with the fact that they really don’t want to be human either. Somehow they think that being a human is the primary problem and that to become something other than human is the answer.

Welcome to Gnosticism!

(And you thought it was just about dead heretics and Dan Brown’s silly book.)

Jesus did not come to make us other than human — he came to make us fully human.

So how human was Jesus?


And a fully human Christ was all too human for the Gnostic dualists who supposed that the material world was evil and that the human body was a dungeon from which we needed to escape.

But the orthodox church fathers would have none of it and branded such thinking as heresy.

Jesus was fully human.

Mediate on the humanity of Christ.

He was born with no more self-awareness than any other infant.

His human body was subject to all the same limitations as yours.
He knew what it was to be tired and hungry.
He knew what is was to be angry and grieved.
He knew about sweat and tears.
He knew about toil and sorrow.
He knew about song and dance.
He knew about latrines. (Mark 7:19)

He knew what it was like to lose.

(Do you think Jesus won every footrace as a boy in Nazareth?)
He wasn’t the most handsome guy.
(“There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance.”)
He had limited knowledge.
(“Who touched me?” And no, I don’t think Jesus knew E = MC2.)

And now I’m really going to mess with you…

Compared to our modern western concepts of hygiene with daily bathing, deodorants and perfumes, you probably wouldn’t think Jesus always smelled the best.

All too human.

See, here’s the deal, I think some of you have confused Jesus with…


Don’t confuse Jesus with Superman.
Superman is not human — Jesus is.
Superman is not God — Jesus is.

Superman is not real — Jesus is.

The problem is this:
We don’t want to be like Jesus.
We want to be like Superman.
But we can’t be like Superman.
Because Superman isn’t human.
And we are.

So we’ll just have to content ourselves with being like Jesus.

Oh, the irony of it all!

Change of scenes…

Jesus being baptized.

That doesn’t quite move us as it should. So think of it a different way:

Catholics: Think of Jesus standing in line outside a confessional.
Evangelicals: Think of Jesus walking the aisle at an altar call.

That’s how John the Baptist saw it and it’s why he tried to talk Jesus out of it.

John’s Baptism was a baptism of repentance.
And Jesus had nothing to repent of.
So why be baptized?

That’s how John saw it. But not how Jesus saw it.

Jesus came to align himself entirely with the human race. Jesus had no personal sin to repent of, but he chose to identify himself with the sin of the world.

We don’t think that way. We think we are responsible for our own sin and that’s the end of it. Someone else’s sin?…hey, that’s not my problem.

But Jesus thought otherwise. Someone else’s sin?…hey, that’s my problem.

Jesus chose to identify with the human race to the point of identifying with sin that was not personal, but social.

That’s why Jesus was comfortable hanging out with sinners…and they were comfortable hanging out with him.

And it’s why the Pharisees hated Jesus.

He was all too human.

The Pharisees were trying to be something more than human. But the tragedy of the Pharisees is that in trying to be more than human they succeeded only in becoming subhuman.

Though Jesus was without sin, he identified himself with sinners.

So Jesus really did pray, forgive us our trespasses.

Jesus had no personal sin. But he chose to identify with our sin. Our problem became his problem.

Thank God!

Salvation is the result of God joining the human race.

I think we should join it too.