Often evangelicals will fight the battle over the divinity of Christ. And too many times pulling on material that is not as strong as it might at first appear. ‘Son of God’, for example does not necessarily mean divinity, as this was a term applied to Israel. Divine qualities do not necessarily imply an identity of deity. The early followers came at things from the other end. This Jesus was human… and came to terms with ‘what kind of person is this that even the winds and waves obey him?’ Human but at another level all together. This extraordinary human then is seen as the Messiah, the Promised deliverer. But I suggest they did not see him as ‘divine’ and certainly not as ‘the second Person of the Trinity’. They had a journey from knowing that he was (truly) human to in what sense was he ‘God’.
The journey of the evangelical is often the other way. He is ‘God’, but in what sense is he human? The early followers seemed to make their journey, I am not convinced that all evangelicals make their journey.
It is interesting that John in his letters strongly argues for the humanity of Jesus as an acid test:
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, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (1 John 4:2,3).
If there is a denial of his humanity (come in the flesh) that is a manifestation of the spirit of antichrist. Not if there is a denial of his divinity! Of course John is pushing back strongly against the Decetist heresy, but nevertheless the emphasis is incredible.
The humanity of Jesus is so key. God affirms humanity at every point. The resurrection, where the rebirth of the Universe is initiated, with the refusal to leave the physical body in the tomb is the greatest ever affirmation of humanity’s value to heaven.
His humanity means…
- that any maturity I will reach is through the path of becoming yet more human. Of moving from humanity being created in my image to being shaped by his image, the only truly human one.
- I need to sacrilise all of life that enables humanity to live life.
- I need to demonise anything that dehumanises.
- I need to see people, no longer after the flesh.
- I honour all who work for humanity’s future, as expressed in this life, for it is this-life expression that will determine that-life expression (see my last post).
- I do not see my identity along the lines of any elitism, be that ethnicity, class or gender.
This aspect of the humanity of Jesus is what has caused us to understand that if someone can truly see the value of people, they are ever so close to seeing God. They might be a professed atheist – and on that we have to ask what is the ‘God’ they do not believe in – but they might have more sight on God than the person who ticks all the ‘Jesus is God’ boxes but can only see others as objects. Maybe to see, and truly see, humanity is to see God… to see Jesus is to see who this God truly is. ‘If you have seen me you have seen the Father’.