“I’m only human!!” How many times have we heard that? How many times have we said that? We think that in saying that we are only human, we are merely confirming the fact of who we are. Being human means being sinful, right??
There’s just one problem with that. We were never supposed to live in a broken world. We were not made for sin. Being sinful does not make us human, it makes less than what we were made to be. It make us less than fully human.
For example…Jesus Christ is both FULLY GOD, and FULLY HUMAN. We have no problem with that first part. Jesus was fully God. We acknowledge the deity of Christ. He was God incarnate. He was the word made flesh. Jesus is the full revelation of God. We look at Jesus, the love He shows for us all the way through the cross, praying for those who were killing as he took dying breaths, and we know that that is who God is.
But Christ was also fully human. He was born and was an infant. Do you think little baby Jesus in that manger was aware that He was God incarnate? As a child growing up, learning to live, learning to survive. Living with brothers, with a family, would He have known He was any different from those around Him?
We see him next at age 12, in the temple learning from the priests and scribes, asking questions, staying even after everyone from His town had left (including his parents). Here we know is becoming aware that he is connected somehow to the one true God. In fact it is here, when his mother and earthly father came for Him, asking why He had done this to them, “And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49 ESV. So yes, he certainly is developing the self awareness that he is connected to God the Father, although I’m sure He had not come close to a full understanding.
After this, we don’t see Him for 18 years, and really we know nothing specific except it does say “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 ESV. But one thing we know He wasn’t doing – He wasn’t being God. He was living a good Hebrew among His people. He was following their ways, observing every sabbath, living every part of their life. He was living fully human.
We don’t take Jesus’ humanity anywhere near as seriously as we take His divinity. But as we move closer to advent and the Christmas season, as we hear again the stories of an inn with no room, the virgin birth, swaddling clothes and a baby in a manger, we must move past our super hero culture and remember that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. Fully MAN. One of us. Because here’s the thing today, we love to talk about Jesus being the full revelation of God, showing us a loving Father, offering us salvation and forgiveness of our sins once and for all. But we don’t like to talk about, or even acknowledge, that in coming to live our lives, coming to walk among us, come to live as we live, that the life of Jesus of Nazareth was also the FULL REVELATION OF MAN.
Jesus shows us, if we will let Him, what it really means to be FULLY HUMAN. We think that to be human is to be sinful. “I’m only human!” “Yup, everybody screws up!” But we forget, or maybe we never even knew, or wanted to know, that this is not how we were supposed to be. It’s not what we were created for. We were created to have communion with God, living in harmony, in peace, fully known by Him, fully knowing Him. “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25 ESV.
But then we know what happens in Genesis 3, the serpent tempts Eve, she eats from that tree in the middle of the garden, and sin enters the world, right?? We are expelled from the garden because now we want to be God. Blah blah blah we think. But sin didn’t just happen there. The disease, the deforming cancer, entered our world there, but from there it multiplies. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. We know the story, Cain gets jealous of Abel, invites him out to the field, kills him, hides the body, and lies to himself and God. Then, “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.” Genesis 4:17 ESV. He kills his brother, hides the body and starts civilization as we know it, founded on might and force.
It didn’t end there. The virus infected the world, and by the time of Noah God said of mankind – “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”” Genesis 6:1-3 ESV. All we do is evil, all the time. We are driven by our flesh, God limits our life to 120 years. Then we have the cleansing flood, because God was tempted to end it all except he found one righteous man in Noah who built the ark, keeping just a remnant alive.
But the virus, the cancer survived the flood along with the remnant, by chapter 11 mankind is building a tower to the sky, trying to find God without God, using their own power and ability.
Finally, in chapter 12 we meet Abram who would become Abraham, and God began his whole project of forming mankind back into His people, the children of God. We get the patriarchs, the exodus, the law and the prophets. People turning to God and then again away from God. People under Gods protection, then people exiled to Babylon, left to live under the rule of empire for centuries.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you! Psalm 41 talks about this. David cries out to God after his affair with Bathsheba. But notice, he admits his sin to God, but doesn’t ask for a pardon. He doesn’t ask for forgiveness. He asks God for healing. Because in his sin, in our broken world, we are sick. We can never be all we were meant to be as long as the sickness, the virus, is passed down from generation to generation. We need healing from our disease which is causing us to be deformed. We see the life of Jesus, and we know that He is God. But He also lives life as we were supposed to. He is what we were meant to be. He is what we were created to be.
It all starts in the garden, and reaches its peak at the Word made flesh. We like to think of salvation as an “in or out” proposition. It’s either “yes” I’m saved or “no” I’m going to hell. But Jesus taught about the kingdom of God as being here on earth. He even taught us to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus came to save more than our souls. He is the great physician, He came to heal our whole selves, to save us from the cancer of sin in our world. The Old Testament was all about following rules to be right with God, but Jesus comes and blows much of this away right in the sermon on the mount. “”You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22 ESV. “”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 ESV. “”It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 ESV. “”You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39 ESV. “You gave heard it said….but I say.” Over and over Jesus takes the rules of the Old Testament and raises the stakes, talking not just about the outward appearance but the inner man. He didn’t come to just to give us laws. He didn’t come to overturn laws. He came to heal us from the sins, both individual and systemic, that have infected mankind as a cancer since Adam and Eve. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV. The thief stole from us in the garden that day. Jesus came to give us the life we were supposed to have.
The apostle Paul gives a look at this in Ephesians. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. We live in this world under the sickness of sin, but it’s not who we really are. We follow the patterns and ways we inherit, generation after generation. We are children of wrath – children of Cain – as we follow the temptation to live by force and might.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…But God. He loved us enough to tell Noah to build the boat. He loved us enough to begin with Abraham, to call his people out of Egypt, to stay faithful to us even when in our sickness we were unfaithful to Him.
He loved us enough to send his Son. He loved us enough to come and walk with us, to join us in our suffering, to show us who we were meant to be. He loved us enough to show us what it means to not be sick with sin. He loved us enough to show us how to pray. He loved us enough to to show us how to pray for our enemies.
Jesus came and walked among us as the word made flesh. He came to be not only the full revelation of God, but also the full revelation of who mankind was supposed to be.
We are ALL in recovery from the sickness of sin. Those of us who have accepted Christ in our lives might just be a little farther along in that recovery (meaning that we at least know we have a problem!) But our recovery will last a lifetime, into eternity, until the New Jerusalem is completed and we are all ready to walk as Christ walked. When we are all ready to live as we were created to live.
Fully God. Fully human. He is who WE were meant to be. He is who WE strive to be. He is who WE could be. He us who we WILL be.
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!””
Psalms 41:1-4 ESV
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Genesis 2:25 ESV
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.””
Genesis 3:6-10 ESV
“Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.”
Genesis 4:17 ESV
“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.””
Genesis 6:1-3 ESV
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”
Ephesians 2:1-6 ESV