Forgetting Jesus’s Humanity
When we don’t remember the humanity of Jesus we tend to forget our own.
Pastors and theologians are quick to emphasize the humanity of Jesus, that he is the full revelation of God, that he manifests God’s glory, that he embodies God’s presence in the world—all of which I of course agree with.
But when we emphasize these to the neglect of Jesus’s humanity we miss fertile pastoral and theological ground. When Jesus’s humanity is only an instrument—a disposable one?—then we tip toward an instrumental view of our own humanity. Or worse, we can view others this way.
Here are three reasons the humanity is just as important as his divinity.
3 Reasons for the Humanity of Jesus
1) God is fully with humanity.
God fully with humanity, in fellowship and friendship, and intimacy and intensity, was always the God’s plan. The incarnation was not “plan B” after the Fall. While it would take a bit to unpack biblically, God’s plan for creation and humanity was always to dwell with humanity. This is the story from Genesis to Revelation.
And it only makes sense that this full dwelling of God among humanity would include the incarnation of God at some time. The course of humanity placed it firmly in the realm of death and destruction. And for that reason the incarnation also included the crucifixion (and resurrection!). But that was not the plan. But the plan was always to be come human.
Affirming the humanity of Jesus means affirming God’s full intention to dwell with us—not up in heaven, but down here on earth.
2) Salvation is in and through humanity.
As the classical formula goes, “What is no assumed is not saved.” If Jesus is not fully human then who and what we are is not fully saved.
If Jesus is not fully human then Jesus only saves a part of us. And too often this some “spiritual” part. If God only saves the spiritual part of us then we can dispose of our bodies, of our those parts we are ashamed of, those parts that don’t make the cut. This means salvation leaves out entire areas of our lives.
But if Jesus was fully human then there is hope and redemption for everything about us. Nothing is “too human” for God to renew.
3) God is always working through humanity.
That Jesus if fully human reminds us that God is always working through humanity. Humanity is the chose means by which God gets things done. From Adam, to Abraham, to all of Israel, God’s chosen means of working is through humanity.
And not just generic humanity. But specific humanity. God calls Abraham from his home. God raises up Israel and places Israel in a specific place. God is born in a Jewish body. I could do on.
And not only specific humanity, but the marginal, the meek, the powerless.
Human for our sake
So God takes on our skin of flesh, as Augustine says. God, who once provided Adam and Eve with “garments of skin” (Gen. 3:21), now takes on the garment of human flesh. Not so that he can then take it off later and save us all from our humanity.
Jesus comes not to save us FROM our humanity, but saves us FOR our humanity.