Written by Lawrence Chen, Art by Christine Hwang
is the Son of God
is the King of Kings
is Alpha and Omega
is at the right hand of the Father
did not have Christ as a surname
needed to pray continuously
was a carpenter’s son
is a human being
is one of us
As I was driving back from a worship service one day, I realized that during the sermon, almost every single one of the pastor’s descriptions of Christ demonstrated something about His divine status. He was portrayed as either “the Messiah,” “the Son of God,” “the Holy One,” or some other elaboration on the same theme. So, I began to think back. When was the last time I saw “Jesus Christ is human!” on a church billboard, or heard a sermon where Jesus’ humanity was emphasized more than His divinity? It seemed as if the only time I remember learning about Jesus as human was in my Theology and Christian Doctrine classes at Westmont College. Tell me if I am crazy, but I think there may be something wrong here. Shouldn’t we emphasize the humanity of Christ just enthusiastically as we do His divinity? Doesn’t our hope lie in the fact that Christ is both human and God?
In Philippians 2:1-18, Paul urges the people in the church of Philippi to be humble and to love others more than themselves. He gives the supreme example of Christ “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to deathâ€”even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8). Although Paul’s intended message was to convict the prideful, I for one am glad that what Paul stated about Jesus’ humanity is true. So why is this so important for us? To find an answer, we need to look briefly into the two natures of humanity and of God’s love.
Let’s first tackle the nature of humanity. I believe that the nature of humanity is inherently good. During the first five days of the creation story, God created everything except for humanity and He called it good. On the sixth day, God created mankind in His image and called all that He had made very good. At our inception, humanity was seen as the object of God’s adoration. Everything that was made was given and entrusted to us. We can also see that God had a close relationship with His creation because He could be found walking in His beautiful garden regularly (Gen. 1:8). Nothing about humanity’s inherent nature was evil. However after the fall, humanity became corrupted and now lacks the will to choose God freely. But just as we cannot call a slice of moldy bread inherently bad, we cannot call humanity inherently evil. Further evidence can be found in the person of Christ Himself. We understand that Christ is fully human and fully God. If humanity was inherently evil, then Christ Himself would also be subjected to that evil nature. That is obviously not true. Because of this, we must adopt a higher view of humanity and physical creation than we currently have. If we see humanity in such a negative light, we will downplay Christ’s humanity and also turn a blind eye to God’s true view of His creation (not to mention fall into gnosticismâ€”the belief that the soul/spirit is exclusively good and the body is wholly evil).
God’s loving nature does not need to be reworded another time here. However, I will reassert that God’s love for humanity is the reason that He personally decided to come down to the fallen world in order to save us from our depravity.
Although I am sure that theologically we all understand that Jesus was both completely God and completely human, what happens when we start to exclude language which suggests that Jesus Christ is just as human as He is God? We can easily fall into any one of the heresies of the person of Christ (I suggest reading Heresies and How to Avoid Them by Quash and Ward if you are curious). But why is it so important that Jesus is human as well as God? Perhaps the most important reason is that humanity could not be saved by any other means. Paul addresses this in Romans 5:12, 18-19, “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man the many will be made righteous.” Jesus was under God’s Law just like the rest of humanity. By completely fulfilling the Law, He was able to be the scapegoat for our sins. However, if Jesus was not human, this would not be possible. First, He would not be like us. Jesus would not have been able to take the sins of those who He could not relate to. Second, His pain and suffering would have been fake because the divine God cannot feel the same pain that we do. Lastly, if God came down as an avatar instead of an actual physical human it would show that God does not actually care about His creation to the point of understanding our daily burdens and temptations.
My hope lies in the fact that the almighty God, came down to earth to become a lowly human servant. What does this all mean? He was subjected to temptation, anxiety, suffering, and death. He was hungry, thirsty, poor, in physical pain, and emotionally broken. If He did not experience these things as a human, God would not be able to truly relate to the human condition, and we could not say that God understands our struggles. Lastly, our ultimate hope resides in the fact that Jesus Christ is physically risen from the dead! Our hope is that we too will be risen from the dead one day, and if Jesus was not fully human, we would not have the same hope in our resurrection because His resurrection would have been God being resurrected and not humanity. But, as the fully human firstborn from the dead, Christ is the tangible embodiment of our hope in the new Kingdom.
So, do me a favor! Next time you speak about Christ, start off by saying “Jesus Christ is human! Amen?” When someone asks you why you said that, you can begin to share with them the hope you have in the risen Christ!
Lawrence Chen is a dynamic, young Christian leader who seeks to bring change to this generation’s youth. Growing up in Walnut, CA, Lawrence found his calling for youth ministry at an early age. He became the president of the Walnut High School Simple Faith Christian club and founded Impact East LA (now called Impact Youth Foundation) during his Senior year of high school. Impact’s goal is to teach youth how to become influential leaders and to empower youth with holistic Christian values so that they in turn can be the hands and feet of God wherever they are calledâ€”whether it be in the workforce or in full-time ministry. Lawrence recently graduated with a B.A. in Religious Studies and Communication Studies and Minor in Music from Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, He enjoys singing, playing guitar and drums, and mixing live sound. His latest endeavor was playing electric guitar on the live album recording of “As it is in Heaven” with the Westmont Chapel Band. Lawrence currently lives in Santa Barbara where he is a Pastoral Intern at Santa Barbara Community Church and an IT Technician at Anchor Point IT Solutions.