Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fully Human

In seminary, a professor and some students were chatting about the miracles of Jesus. Someone was babbling on about a Buddhist monk who could do incredible feats of human endurance. The professor wondered out loud if some of Jesus’ miracles could be attributed to his human nature, rather than his divine one. Although I had grown up watching “In Search Of” hosted by Leonard Nimoy, skepticism had long ago dismissed ESP and bigfoot. At the time, the conversation held no particular interest for me.

Nonetheless, there was something intriguing in the professor’s response. We Christians affirm that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Often, in our discussions, the humanity of Christ gets short attention. Jesus is treated like a cosmic Clark Kent whose suffering is feigned or faked. I remember someone once being offended by a question posed to Jesus in the lyrics of a Rich Mullins song, “Did You try not to cry when You scraped your knee?” The claim was that Jesus wouldn’t have fallen and hurt himself in the first place.

Even when we speak about the humanity of Christ, the attention is limited to a discussion of weakness, suffering and temptation. This tendency is understandable. However, if Christ is fully human that means not only does he have our weakness but also he has our strength. Jesus was the best that humanity could offer. And humanity in a move that can only be understood as masochistic or suicidal nailed Jesus to a cross. Alexander Schmemann writes, “But while [the world] can be improved, it can never become the place God intended it to be. Christianity does not condemn the world. The world has condemned itself when on Calvary it condemned the One who was its true self.”

The best as well as the worst of humanity is need of redemption.

No comments: