It is the third Advent Sunday. I have been reflecting on the humanity of Jesus. The world celebrates Christmas, the birth of Jesus, with food, festive gifts and all kinds of enjoyment. The church organizes meetings and events to encourage believers to focus on the Saviour, Christ the Lord. The Son of God sent by God the Father to live the life of man, yet without sin, in order that Jesus be the only person qualified to die for sinners, to satisfy the wrath of God against sin.
And I quote Gregory the Great: “To this end, the Lord appeared in the flesh that He might arouse the life of many by His teaching, kindle it by His example, redeem it by His death, and renew it by His resurrection.”
Jesus was a man who convinced those closest to Him that He was also God. His humanness is not in doubt.
The apostle John condemned those who denied that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:2,3; 2 John 7). “Those” were teachers who replaced the incarnation with the idea that Jesus was a supernatural being (not God) who seemed human but was really only so in appearance, a messenger who could not die for sins.
The Gospels show Jesus experiencing human limitations (hunger, Matt.4:2; fatigue, John 4:6; ignorance of fact, Luke 8:45-47; and sorrow, John 11:35,38).
Hebrews stresses that if Christ had not shared all these facets of human experience – weakness, temptation, pain – He would not be qualified to help us as we face such trials (Heb. 2:17,18; 4:15,16; 5:2,7-9).
As it is, His full human experience guarantees that in every moment of our relationship with God, we may go to Him, confident that He has been there before us, and is the helper we need,
Jesus could not sin, but He was able to be tempted. Satan tempted Him to disobey the Father through self-gratification, self-display, and self-aggrandizement (Matt. 4:1-11), and the temptation to retreat from the Cross was constant (Luke 22:28; cf. Matt. 16:23, and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane).
Being human, Jesus could not conquer temptation without a struggle, but being divine, it was His nature to do His Father’s will (John 5:19,30) and therefore to resist and fight temptation until He had overcome it.
Since His human nature was conformed to His divine nature, it was impossible that He should fail in the course of His resistance. It was inevitable that He would endure temptations to the end, feeling their entire force, and emerge victorious for His people.
From Gethsemane, we know how acute and agonizing His struggles were. The happy result for us is that because “He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Heb. 2:18
Lord, in this busy season, help us to be still. Quietly prepare our hearts for the wonder of Your coming at Christmas.
By sister Lam Yeen Lan