Easter season is upon us. It should be a time of true reflection and gratitude, as we look back at all Christ did for us – and continues to do. But if I am being honest, I have a hard time getting my heart in the right place to truly celebrate Easter.
Not because I don’t feel it. That’s not it. If I really meditate on the sacrifice of Christ, I am brought to tears… but who has time for meditating?!? Easter usually means extra planning for eggs – plastic or dyed, outfits, parties and family gatherings, extended church services, and for many moms Easter has come to mean more responsibility.
In all our celebrating of the cross, moms (or at least this mom) rarely have time to humbly reflect on the cross. Can anyone else relate?
So as I thought about what I wanted to share this Easter season, I really thought about what would provide me comfort and direction. What elements of the cross can help me truly abide everyday? What elements of Jesus can help strengthen my relationship with him?
As I thought about this, I thought about an aspect of Jesus that is openly acknowledged, but also somewhat ignored. We know Jesus was fully God. We worship that in Him, but I also think we use that as an excuse when we look at Jesus – He was fully God so He doesn’t really get it. Or the cross wasn’t the same for Jesus because He is God too. I mean, we may not say these things out loud, but I bet I am not the only one who has thought them.
Jesus, however, was also fully human. Now, don’t asked me to explain in depth. I don’t know exactly how it worked. I did study it with diagrams and all, but it just made my head hurt, so I decided I would just take this aspect on faith. Jesus was fully God, but also fully man. That was God’s plan. That’s how it had to be.
And if we will truly focus on the fact that Jesus was fully man, then I think we can draw some encouragement from that. When we understand that Jesus had to be totally human for God’s plan to work, and when we really understand what that means Jesus went through in the process, then we can find true encouragement and joy in our daily lives, not just in the Easter season.
So here are three reasons we can find encouragement in the humanity of Christ:
First, He is one of us. He understands.
Now, when I was in high school and I was dealing with woman things, I distinctly remember thinking “there is no way Jesus understands what I am going through.” While I was speaking out of my mental and spiritual immaturity and Jesus may not have dealt with that exact problem, He did deal with many human struggles, most much worse than anything I have ever faced.
He had physical struggles just like we do. He felt hunger, thirst, and weariness. In John 4, Jesus sat down by the well before talking to the Samaritan woman because He was tired from his journey.
In Matthew 4, after he had fasted and was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days, the Bible tells us, “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
What a picture? Jesus needed help in his humanity. After the test in the wilderness, and even though he was successful, He still needed help. He needed the support from the angels in order to recover from such a time.
We also know that Jesus has a human mind, heart, and will. In Luke 2, it tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom. There were things He had to learn, just like us. Sometimes I picture Him coming out just knowing it all, but that is not the case. He had to study like we do.
He felt emotions just like we do. He was just not controlled by His emotions like we often are. In Matthew 8, we see Jesus marvel at the faith of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. (Even in His humanity, I would love for Jesus to marvel at my faith.)
We also know that Jesus wept when Lazarus died. There is some debate as to what He was crying over, what caused His sadness, but it doesn’t really matter here. The point for our sake is that Jesus cried (and anybody that knows me, knows I find comfort in this because it doesn’t take much to make me cry).
And several times in scripture, Jesus said, “Not my will, but the will of Him who sent me.” And we even see in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus ask God if there was another way. Did it have to be the cross?
I am sure we can all relate to this moment – asking God, “Are you sure this is what is supposed to happen? We can’t figure out a better way for this?” But even in His reluctance, Jesus was obedient. Even though that is not what Jesus wanted to do, He understood that is what He must do.
Jesus struggled with all the things that make us human. He does know and understand so much of what we are going through. Hebrews 2: 18 says, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Yet, he managed to do it all without sin.
So, secondly, that enables Him to be the perfect substitute for us.
In Hebrews 2, it says that Jesus didn’t do all this for the angels, He did it for the “sons of Abraham” – us. It goes on to say that He had to be like his brothers “in every respect.” In order to save us, he had to be one of us, completely. God could not sacrifice Himself for us. That is not possible, but He could sacrifice His son, He could allow His son to provide the perfect human example for us.
In a article on Desiring God, David Mathis says, “He became man in full so that he might save us in full.” Think about it like paying a debt. If I inherited some of money, I would begin to pay off my house. Let’s say it enabled me to pay off half of my house debt. Well, that’s great, but I still have the monthly stress of making that house payment for several years to come. Sure, the money helped, but it wasn’t enough to pay off all my debt.
That is not the case with Jesus. Because He was fully human, He was enough to pay off my debt. And yours. And your families. And even the person you like the least at the moment. Jesus, in all his humanity, was more than enough to pay off the debts of all of us.
But that is only the case because He walked on earth as a complete human, and He did so sinlessly. Without blame.
While we cannot dream of being sinless on our own, we can find hope and encouragement in His example. We can study Christ and model our thoughts and actions after His. We can let go of the excuse that He was God and that is why He managed it. He was… but He was completely human too.
Finally, Jesus is the perfect mediator.
Because Jesus was fully human, He felt the complete pressure of temptation. He knew that you could move from hungry to hangry in three seconds flat. He knew that you could be so tired that you lost all desires to do anything else. He knew that your emotions could tell you lies and convince you of things that just were not true. He lived all this and He understands the power of the human temptations.
And because He lived all that, he is the perfect mediator, the perfect intercessor. Hebrews 8:6 tells us, “But as is is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” The law, the old way of doing things, was good for a while. It served its purpose. But when Jesus came on the scene, we got the bigger and better promises.
He paid our price. He gave us mercy and grace. He became the go-between. No more priests in the Holy of Holies. No more animal sacrifices that only lasted for a while. None of that. He gave us a new way of doing things, and in the process He became the one to stand in our place on so many accounts. Yes, he was our sacrifice, but now, before God, he is also our representative.
And he is the perfect representative because He lived it all. He knows what it is like to be on the front lines of this world. He understands. He does not excuse, but He does understand… understands enough to buy our way out of hell and speak on our behalf – now if that is not encouraging, I am not sure what is.
I know as Christians it sometimes seems almost insulting to say the Jesus was fully human. Surely He was not one of us in all our ugly faults. But He was. And to overlook that, we miss so much about God, His character, and His plan. He had a beautiful plan, where a beautiful man (and son of God) came to earth, demonstrated how to live holy, and then sacrificed it all, so that we could live eternally in heaven. And now He spends his days speaking on our behalf, loving us, ministering to us, and I feel sure, remembering just what it was like to be at constant battle with the flesh.
We should not ignore His humanity, but embrace it and be encouraged by it, because His humanity is what enables our eternity.