Posted by: Ed | June 1, 2008

Q & A AT REAL LIFE – JESUS WAS A REAL PERSON

Our 20something ministry, Real Life, just finished a series based on a books & curriculum by Christopher West called Theology of the Body. For their last session they are doing a Q & A this Tuesday. Since my wife helps lead Real Life, she enlisted me for this question.

If Jesus was able to sin, would that not then contradict him being a part of God who is incapable of sin? (Giving this one to Ed)

There were a couple of things that I could have responded to, but the thing that I thought was most important and is the most common and significant misconception among Christ followers has to do with the real humanity of Jesus. I think that lots of Christians think of Jesus as something other than them. By rightly embracing the divinity of Jesus (he was GOD in the flesh) we sometimes think of Him as more than (or really LESS than) fully human. You see this in the way that we read the gospels. The problem with this is that it robs us of the power of the life of Jesus.

Here’s the email answer:

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the DaVinci Code got the history of the early (Post apostlic) church as it relates to the person of Jesus exactly wrong. The 1st error was not that of Arius (denying that Jesus was fully God), but was something called “docetism”. [see article in Wikipedia] This was the idea that Jesus was truly God – no problem there – but his humanity was in appearance only. Much later did the church have to struggle with the error, which denied that Jesus was fully God. It seems to me that we too have a tendency to somehow think of Jesus as less than fully human by thinking of him as more than fully human.

The scriptures go out of their way to say that Jesus was fully human
– He became flesh – John 1:18
– He asked questions of teachers therefore had to learn – Luke 2:46
– He even learned obedience – Hebrews 5
NASB Hebrews 5:8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

The most comprehensive passage about this nature of Jesus that comes to bare on this question is Philippians 2 – known as the Kenosis passage (Greek word for emptying)
Jesus emptied himself of deity in the sense that he lived his life as a human being, obedient to & empowered by God through the Holy Spirit (drum roll please) JUST LIKE US. When he resisted temptation he resisted it like us (or like we do sometimes – hopefully more & more of the time). The enticement to sin was not only as strong as ours but in many ways STRONGER. Which tree feels the force of the hurricane – the one that blows over when the winds are at 20 mph or the one that is still standing when the winds hit 150? If we don’t get this the power of the life of Jesus in our lives is diminished. Every thing always goes back to “well he was God”.
– Jesus knew that person had faith to be healed… well he was God
– Jesus didn’t care what people thought … well he was God
– Jesus looked at people with love not lust… well he was God
– Jesus resisted the temptations thrown at him (and the bible says that he has experienced EVERY ONE… YES THAT)… well he was God.

Instead we ought to think like this:
NASB Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The Bible teaches & the early church fathers continued to clarify, that Jesus had 2 natures, 2 wills – divine & human. Neither obliterates the other but are joined in this one person, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Man… Son of God.

Hope this helps – you owe me.

Ed

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Responses

  1. Wow – Ed you have once again taken a complicated topic and presented it in a way that all can understand. Thank you….

  2. Thank you Ed for posting this… While my son (8)is getting ready for his baptism experience he has had many questions. This kinda of being one. we have had long discussions about our faith and what we believe about Jesus Christ the Son of Man and Son of God. Pretty Cool, Huh!!!

    I will share this with him as well but will have to break down into 8 year-old speak. Very insightful and gave me some ideas in areas where I struggled to get the message across to him.

    What an awesome experience it is to see him so curious about the things of God that most people could care less about. He really wants to understand and know Jesus more.

    See you this Sunday at Church and at the Baptism! Steve

  3. WOW I went to 22 years of Catholic school and I learned this just the way you are stating it! I was very fortunate when I got to the University level I had some awesome (like you)professors (whom were from several different orders) that had some different theologies. Some had the same outcomes, others did not, but being the bright and dutiful student I was, always seeking further conclusions and came out with the one very similar. Except I found in my bible this,

    ” Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.’

    My professors thought I was too strong minded, (as does my mother) but it was what made since to me. Ed you adding on…

    Jesus emptied himself of deity in the sense that he lived his life as a human being, obedient to & empowered by God through the Holy Spirit (drum roll please) JUST LIKE US.

    Brings it all home, thank you for your incrediblity gift of the spirit that you share.


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