Would you agree with me that Jesus was an actual historical human being?
Jesus ate and drank with other humans, learned a vocational skill as well as the Torah, walked dusty roads as he taught, and struggled to breathe on the cross. He celebrated at weddings and cried at funerals, experienced the love of friends and hatred of enemies, and felt the emotional pain of rejection and sorrow .
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Because Jesus experienced a fully human life, he understands us. He relates to our joys, desires, fears, anger, grief, and regrets. He gets us.
Would you also agree, or profess through faith, that he was perfect and without sin?
The author of Hebrews says Jesus was tempted in every way but did not sin.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity… he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God… Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 1:14-18 (abbreviated)
I believe Jesus was without sin. I always have. But, I wonder how a real human, a prone to go-your-own-way human, achieved perfection. Here’s what I wonder: did Jesus’ divinity help him resist temptation?
Was Jesus fully human or some kind of superhuman?
If Jesus had divine assistance resisting sin, then he’s not like us. The capacity for him to sin is essential for us to consider Jesus fully human. He had to be able to freely choose disobedience like Adam and Eve did, yet resist rebellion. If Jesus was somehow protected from sin, then he can’t relate to my temptations.
One example when Jesus chose obedience over his own desire occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. He begged God to change the plan:
He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
He could have slipped away, but he didn’t. There was a well known path into the wilderness on the back side of the garden. But if Jesus had the urge to escape, he resisted. He aligned his fully human will with God’s will in a way that we humans are incapable. He chose to obey God even when it led to horrific pain and death.
I’ve come to realize the importance of this question.
God can’t remain holy and just if sin goes unpunished.
Jesus’ full humanity matters because the blood of a perfect lamb only temporarily satisfied God’s demand for justice.
In order for humans to have restored relationship with God, one perfectly obedient human offered himself as the sacrifice. God’s hatred for sin would remain if Jesus cheated with some super human resistance power. One perfect human, a once-and-for-all sacrificial lamb, restored the relationship that one sinful human destroyed.
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Is this some sort of cosmic child abuse where the Father crucifies his Son? You know, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” No, because while Jesus is the sacrificial Son of God, Jesus is also God himself. God, in his love, willingly absorbed our sin into himself in order to maintain God’s justice. Did your mind just explode? Mine did.
Reflect on the impact of Jesus’ full humanity in your life:
- Identify a weakness you struggle with
- Invite Jesus to meet you there
- Ask him for the desire to follow God’s will through temptation
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