Being human is wonderful. I’d rather be me than be my dog. But being human is hard. What part of being human do you most dislike?
– Living under someone else’s authority?
– Getting tired?
– Being hungry?
– Having conflict with people you care about?
– Feeling deep sorrow?
– Suffering physical pain?
– Facing sinful temptations?
– Having to grow up and do adult things?
– Being treated unfairly by people and systems?
– Not knowing things?
– Being all alone?
– Facing death?
Jesus experienced all of these human things. While he was one hundred percent God, he was wrapped up in one hundred percent humanity. Jesus did not take on just the delightful parts of being human, but all of it–the good, bad, and ugly. But he did it perfectly, with grace and truth (John 1:14). He showed us what being human can be. Through his perfect life, substitutionary death, victorious resurrection, and glorious ascension, Jesus provides both an example for what we humans should be like in attitude, word, and deed, along with the power to actually do it. In his complete humanity he redeems our humanity completely.
It is tempting to think that Jesus was not fully human because he could not sin, and that because he could not sin he doesn’t really understand our battles with temptation. However, being sinful is not what defines being human. Adam became human when God fashioned him and breathed life into him, making him in God’s own image. Adam did not become more human when he disobeyed God. If anything, he became less than what he was created to be.
In his humanity, Jesus showed us mortals how to live with purpose and die with dignity. He showed us how to laugh and weep. He showed us how to make the things of God the most important things. He showed us how to be what we were created to be. But the one thing we do as humans that Jesus didn’t do, the one thing that is universally human but not the essence of our humanity, which is sin, he did not do and thus became the rescue for humanity.
In Jesus, all the fullness of God dwells in a human body. As a human, he was tempted like we are, but unlike us, he never gave in. Not once. So, we can come to him, and in him the beauty of our humanity can be restored.
As you celebrate the coming of God in human flesh, welcome him into every part of your celebration. “O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!”