Jesus: fully God, fully human Luke 1:26-38

Deitrich Bonhoeffer once said, “If Jesus is not true God how could he help us? If he is not true man, how could he help us?” There are two equal and opposite errors people can make when they are thinking about Jesus Christ. The first is to think that because Jesus was completely human he couldn’t really have been divine – He was a man but He wasn’t really God. That is the mistake philosophers and theologians tend to make and bishops make the headlines for saying. But the opposite error is much more common I think. Ordinary Christians have no problems believing that Jesus is God. The difficulties come when we think about Jesus who was God also being human. People end up thinking that because Jesus was God he couldn’t have been a human being just like you and me. Just how human COULD Jesus the Son of God have been? That is our question for this morning. How human was Jesus? Most of us are happy to take it on faith that
JESUS WAS FULLY GOD
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus was “the Word”, God, the embodiment of the whole of the Old Testament of Law and Prophecy and Wisdom
John 114 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
So “the Word” became a human being, became a human body, became a human person.
The Message translation puts it this way.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out,true from start to finish.
This was the fulfilment of the promises the angel made to Mary about Jesus’s birth.
Luke 1 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
V 35. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
So Jesus was truly and entirely God. Here was the promise the angel made to Joseph.
Matthew 1 23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).
Jesus was God with us. Not God looking down from heaven, aloof and safe from the perils of the world, but God who is “one of us” and “one with us.”
For more than a thousand years the Israelites prayed in their daily prayer the Shema, “Hear O Israel the Lord your God, the Lord is one.” Yet writing to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes this about Jesus,
Romans 9 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Paul the Jew came to call Jesus, “Christ who is God over all, forever praised.” Because Jesus was indeed FULLY GOD. But at the same time
JESUS WAS FULLY HUMAN
There was something entirely unique about the way God created human beings. The Bible tells us that people are created “in God’s image,” to be like God. So it was that, from all the creatures, it was a human being that God could become.
John 114 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God Himself was born as a human being! Paul begins the explanation of the gospel he preached in his letter to the Romans like this.
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have the proof that Jesus was the Son of God because he was raised from the dead. And we have the proof that Jesus was a human being because he was descended from great King David. Matthew’s Gospel traces the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to Christ, to demonstrate that Jesus is related to every Jew who ever lived. And in Luke’s gospel the genealogy runs from Adam to Christ to emphasise that Jesus is related to every person who has ever lived! We may wonder what those lists of names are there for. They are there to demonstrate the humanity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus was a descendent of Adam and a descendent of David, just as human as any of us.
Even in the first century, a heresy arose called “Docetism.” This was the false teaching that Jesus wasn’t really human, he had just appeared to be human. You can find the same mistake today in some of the cults and some New Age teachings. The false idea that Jesus was God but because God is infinite and holy and and eternal and transcendent, Jesus could not possibly be associated with created beings, especially not sinful humans like us. Parts of the New Testament were written to contradict this heresy and stress that Jesus was indeed completely human.
1 John 4 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.
Jesus was fully human, just like you and me in every respect! The letter to the Hebrews makes this very clear.
Hebrews 214 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. … 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
It was necessary for Jesus to be completely human so that he could accomplish salvation for human beings.
Hebrews 4 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
It was vital that Jesus was fully human for Him to be able to represent us before God and help us even now.
The fourth century theologian Gregory of Nazianzus explained it this way. “What Christ has not assumed He has not healed.”
And not only was Jesus fully human.
JESUS WAS TYPICALLY HUMAN.
In some respects you and I are not typically human. Living in the Western World in the 21st Century our lives will be longer and safer and more comfortable in every way than those of our grandparents, or their grandparents, or the vast majority of human beings who have ever lived and certainly anybody who lived in Bible times! Jesus was much more typical of ordinary human beings than we are! Jesus began his life as a refugee.
Matthew 213 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Jesus would have felt more at home in the war zones of Syria and Yemen or parts of Africa than in North Springfield. At Christmas time it is good to remember folk around the world less fortunate than ourselves, because Jesus shared their experiences of life more than He shared ours.

JESUS WAS POOR NOT RICH

We have comfortable secure homes. We have enough to eat and better health care than any previous generations. Compared to billions of people in this world we are very rich. But the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head. Jesus would feel more at home amongst homeless people than amongst home-owners.
2 Corinthians 8 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Jesus embraced not only spiritual but also literal material poverty. Again the Message translation: You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich
JESUS WAS POWERLESS, NOT POWERFUL
We have so much control over so many aspects of our lives. So many millions have no control at all because they are slaves or refugees, or indeed a hundred years ago simply because they were female. For most of His life Jesus was obscure and marginalised.
Matthew 223 (Joseph) went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
You might have wondered where in the Old Testament the prophets mentioned Nazareth. And the answer is, nowhere. Nazareth was an obscure and insignificant little village. And the Old Testament had made clear that the Messiah would emerge from the back of beyond. Jesus was a nobody from a one-horse town, with no breeding, no respectability, and an accent which would mark him out as uncultured and unrefined – just one of the plebs. Jesus would feel more at home among the exploited and downtrodden peasant farmers of the third world than He would in any city today. Jesus was just a typical human being.

JESUS WAS NOT CUSHIONED – JESUS SUFFERED JUST LIKE WE SUFFER
The prophet Isaiah foretold so many aspects of the birth and the ministry of Jesus as we thought about last week. But Isaiah also foretold the ways Jesus would suffer.
Isaiah 53 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

The Son of God would have no special protection in this cruel world. He would share in all its sufferings, the sufferings of the exploited, mistreated, ignored and marginalised people who have always made up the vast majority of the world ever since the fall. Jesus would be the victor, but first he was the victim. However hard our own lives may be, Jesus Christ the suffering servant lived a much more typical human life than any of us ever will.
In the third century Athanasius of Alexandria wrote this. “Christ became what we are so that He could make us what He is.”
Jesus had to share all the misery and all the suffering of humanity so that by His death on the cross he could redeem humanity. He shared our humanity so that we could share His divinity. And because he has suffered with us, Jesus understands all our problems. He has faced all the challenges of life which we face.
Hebrews 4 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Jesus can save us and Jesus can help us. All we need to do is ask. He is only ever a prayer away. So how human was Jesus? Fully human! Completely God and completely man! Immanuel – God with us! Bow down and worship, for this is your God!

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