Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jesus was human as well as divine. We know this.

But was He really human?

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2, NKJV)

This next passage of Philippians dovetails nicely with the onset of Lent. The great mystery of the Incarnation: God coming down to become one of us, to experience humanity, then to die for humanity. I wrote last year about the humanness of Jesus, but this week, I find myself freshly astonished.

Someone said that Christians tend to think Jesus was not really human ... that He was only pretending to be human. Guilty as charged! Too often I mentally dismiss the element of peril within the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and then being tempted. After all, He was God, He couldn't really have fallen, in that situation.

Could He?

Someone else commented, however, that temptation by its very nature means the person being tempted actually entertained the notion of doing what’s presented to him. Could Jesus actually have considered turning those stones to bread? Leaping off the pinnacle of the temple to prove His godhood? We might never know.

We do see His utter humanness in the garden of Gethesemane, where He cries out to God to spare Him the experience of the Cross if any other way can be made to accomplish our salvation. (As my pastor said last year, He was God and all glory belonged to Him anyway, so it wasn’t like He had do this.) But this struck me all over again, in Jesus’ chiding of the disciples for sleeping when He’d asked them to watch and pray. We don’t tend to think of Jesus as needing prayer ... but bound in deep dread over what He was about to face—because He had to absolutely know the kind of pain that crucifixion would involve—He was stressed to the point of hemorrhaging through His skin. He’d asked these men, the three who were closest to Him than any others in His earthly walk, to stay by His side while He wrestled through the dread. And then to find, three times, that they just fell asleep ...

Was He only asking for moral support?  Scripture suggests that at least part of His concern was for the dicsiples, especially Peter, to pray for their own strength in the coming trial. But we can hear it in His voice ... Guys! I needed you ... maybe I never did before but I did now ... and you let me down.

How many times have I felt that exact thing over the past few years? That at my point of greatest need, some of those I considered my closest friends failed to be there for me?

To suddenly see that my glorious, beautiful Redeemer did as well, comforts me like nothing else.

Wow, He really was as fully human as He is God.

And He was the perfect Savior to sympathize with our own weakness.

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22, NKJV)
32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.
37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.
41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14, NKJV)


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