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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

 

What does the humanity of Jesus teach us about God?

As Christians we have a book full of stories that we consider to be inspired by God.
I wonder how much you truly let that inspiration challenge you?
I mean it is all good and well to read your bible in the morning and feel like you should actually talk to someone who gets picked on at school. But is it a once off response, if it happens at all?

I have to prepare a tutorial paper for my class tomorrow afternoon. I had to read an article on how the Synopic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) portray Jesus. I found the article to be a good read.
The key question I have decided to focus on in my paper, and here on my blog, is the question of 'what does the humanity of Jesus teach us about God?'

Now we talk alot about Incarnation (if we really understand what that term means), but my question is deeper than the incarnation. I am talking about the humanity of Jesus.

2 incidents highlight where this question comes from.

Firstly, the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is praying. Previously he had told the disciples that he was going to Jerusalem and would be killed by the authorities. Even if this was a supernatural knowledge (it didn't have to be, even a blind man could see that Jesus had been upsetting the powerful people in his ministry), Gethsemane turns the tables. Jesus prays, "if this cup can be taken from me, let it be. But not my will, your will be done." Jesus prays as if his prayer could change the order of the universe. In his humanity he doesn't know what the future holds and so prays that God's will might be done.

The second is Jesus' last moments on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Is this not the cry of someone who has faced utter hopelessness? Is it the cry of someone who is fed up with God because of where that God has placed him? (this question will upset some, because we think that to question God is wrong, even a 'sin', but isn't that exactly what Jesus is doing?) What comes next is that Jesus dies and Mark's gospel records that the Centurion (of all people) comments "surely this man was [a] Son of God."
Here at the moment of Jesus' death, the most human moment in his life, the Centurion sees his divinity.

So does the humanness of Jesus, who was also God, show us anything about who God is?
I would have to say a hearty 'Yes!'

His question in Gethsemane shows us that Jesus didn't know everything that was to come.
Is this true of the Father and the Spirit as well? If we hold to a belief in free will, then we have to sit with this question.
Does a God who offers free will, but knows what decision you will make, really offer free will?

His question on the Cross, 'why God?' shows us that it is very human to ask this question of God. It is ok to question God and his motives. (Don't believe me, just read the Old Testament.) Does this mean that God questions Godself? I would say yes, because we can see in the Old Testament instances where God shows remorse for some of the things he did (like wiping out whole people groups).

In the moment that Jesus dies, that moment of his most humaness, the Centurion highlights his divinity.
Jesus is God enfleshed, the revelation of who God is. Jesus dies.
Now I am not saying that God too dies because I don't believe that.
But what does Jesus' human death show us about God? And the answer is not that it shows us that he loved us so much that he died for our sins or any other cliche like that.

What does the fact that Jesus' divinity is seen in his most human act tell us about who God is?

Will you let the inspired word of God challenge your thinking today?


Comments:
Hey Liam - good thoughts! There's one thing that amazes me in Jesus' crying out 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'. On the cross he was practising what was common among Jewish people at the time, where they would quote the first phrase of a Psalm, referring to the Psalm as a whole. Which he also would memorised along with the rest of the OT, being a good Jewish boy. In this case, it's Psalm 22. What's even more amazing is what is contained within that Psalm - poured out like water (v14) - mouth is dry (v15) - pierce my hands and feet (v16) - divide my clothes and cast lots (v18). Sound familiar - and all from the Psalms! The best is the last phrase 'He has done it!' Praise God on the cross he did it once and for all! Isn't it amazing that the New Testament is contained in the Old Testament!
 
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