Posts Tagged ‘incarnation’


October 15, 2009 4 comments

We are studying the incarnation of Jesus this week in the graduate course I am taking. It is fascinating and mysterious how Jesus was fully God and fully man. The instructor pointed out that liberal theologians have downplayed the divinity of Jesus, while conservatives have (in an effort to defend the divinity of Jesus) downplayed the humanity of Jesus. I think that’s a fair critique of both sides. Speaking as a theological conservative, it does seem that we have a bit more difficulty coming to terms with the full humanity of Jesus than the full divinity of Jesus.


Take, for example, our almost knee-jerk reaction to Jesus’ strength in the face of temptation or suffering: “Yeah,” we think in the back of our minds, “but he was God.” We take his strength as a given, reasoning in terms only of his full divinity: “Of course he was perfect! Of course he endured suffering like a champ! He was GOD on earth, after all.”

Our protecting the full divinity of Jesus (and subsequently under-appreciating the full humanity of Jesus) creates a subtle distance between us and Jesus; it weakens the full force of Jesus’ challenging example because, we reason, he had the ultimate advantage over us. We’re not like him because we’re not God.

Stressing the full humanity of Jesus is crucial, then, for at least two big reasons:

1. Because Jesus was fully human, his example of strength in the face of temptation and suffering is powerful and relevant (Heb. 12:3).

2. Because Jesus was fully human, he is able to fully sympathize with us when we face temptation and suffering (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:15-16).