Often when we talk about being human,
we will say that we are ‘only’ human or 'just’ human. Only… Just… these two words paint a picture of a kind humanity known and defined by its flaws. The Bible has a different perspective on what it means to be human: Jesus.
Jesus was the fullest human that ever lived. Jesus was the most human. Jesus demonstrated what real and genuine humanity could actually look like. He is the prototype of the perfect model. Crazy as it seems, 'only’ and 'just’ humans are invited to follow him into becoming more human.
One of the reasons Jesus came is to show the world what God’s life and love really looks like in the life of a human being.
Jesus was the living, breathing, walking around version of the Good News of God.
In [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. - John 1:4
Jesus didn’t just tell people how good the Good News was, he lived it in front of them. He let the light and life, joy and love of heaven shine out through his every word, deed, and interaction here on earth. Jesus showed us what it meant to be FULLY and TRULY human.
Jesus’ true humanity played out in 3 critical relationships:
1. Jesus walked in the constant pleasure and connection with his heavenly Father.
We see the Father’s pleasure clearly at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration events. These events make clear and visible what is a constant reality for Jesus.
Matthew 3 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Mark 9 7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Jesus was always connected to the love of his heavenly Father. Jesus is clear that God loves us fully too. We can choose to bask in that love, or hide and run to our corners of 'only.’
2. Jesus had a deep sense of who he was and what his whole life was about.
Even when Jesus was surrounded by a needy crowd, he did not allow their desires or needs to overshadow his understanding of who he was and what he was to be about.
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
3. Jesus loved his neighbor, and was present to her/his needs.
Jesus taught that we should love our neighbor and do unto them as we would have done unto us. This is a nice sentiment, but Jesus took it further. He also treated his ‘Enemies’ as neighbors and loved them too. Even to the point of forgiving and wishing them well as he was nailed to the Cross. Jesus looked lovingly into the eyes of sinners & prostitutes, men & women, children & grown ups. He treated each with dignity, even when they did not return it.
28 [One of the teachers of the law asked Jesus], “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?… 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
These three relationships are amazing when you think about it. Humans today seem to be born rebellious toward God and authority, we deeply struggle to find ourselves, and it seems like our relational status with others is ‘complicated’ at best.
We are living lives defined by 'only’ and 'just.’
Rather than moving toward God and others in love, we are moving toward greater isolation and loneliness. This is vividly imagined in 'The Great Divorce’ by C.S. Lewis. He writes a fascinating description of what Hell might be like. Lewis’ description begins as a new arrival in the Gray City of Hell is trying to make sense of what he is observing:
‘… that’s what I can’t understand. The parts of it that I saw were so empty. Was there once a much larger population?’
‘Not at all,’ said my neighbour. ‘The trouble is that they’re so quarrelsome. As soon as anyone arrives he settles in some street. Before he’s been there twenty-four hours he quarrels with his neighbour. Before the week is over he’s quarrelled so badly that he decides to move. Very likely he finds the next street empty because all the people there have quarrelled with their neighbours—and moved. If so he settles in. If by any chance the street is full, he goes further. But even if he stays, it makes no odds. He’s sure to have another quarrel pretty soon and then he’ll move on again. Finally he’ll move right out to the edge of the town and … moving on and on. Getting further apart… Millions of miles from us and from one another. Every now and then they move further still.
- Excerpt From: C. S. Lewis. “The Great Divorce.”
In the Rebellion story of Genesis 3, the first human, Adam, rebelled against God and his full humanity became twisted with evil and sin. Humans began to move away from God and from our truest selves. We moved away from our fellow humans in fear and shame. But, when Jesus showed up, he showed us what it meant to be FULLY and TRULY human. In a sense he is the “second Adam.” Jesus as the “second Adam” demonstrated and restored Humanity to its original beauty.
Romans 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.
Humans can once again experience an integrated life in the constant pleasure and connection with our Heavenly Father, free to live out our genuine nature, and present in love to our neighbor. This is how we were supposed to be from the very beginning. This is amazing news. Think about what we have regained in Christ:
“Now that God was gone (after the fall in the garden), now that he wasn’t around to help us feel that we were loved and important and good, we were looking for it in each other, in a jury of peers…. I know without a doubt that I am a person who is wired so that something outside of myself tells me who I am… It is as though the voice God used to have has been taken up by less credible voices.”
- Don Miller (SFGKW pg. 94-95)
God’s pleasure expressed to Jesus and now extended to us sets us free from shame and doubt. No longer do we have to toil and struggle to find worth and love - Jesus has gone before us and opened up a way for our full humanity to bloom.
This is the good news: We can be as fully human as Jesus.
This is a surprising statement, because typically we don’t think of being human in a positive light. When we mess up, we will often say, “I am only Human.” This kind of statement can lead us to mistakenly believe that our sin and failure is the result of us being human. God’s Story paints life differently. Jesus was human in every way, and yet did not sin. He was the perfect human, and his life shows the rest of us how we can be truly human as well.
We are invited to be living examples of fully human lives that faithfully demonstrate and declare the life and love of God through our lives, relationships, words. Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, so we also must make Jesus’ love and message visible through our lives.
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations…
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
C. S. Lewis. “Weight of Glory.”