40 Words: “Human” (02.18.2016)


Leonardo Da Vinci, Vetruvian Man 

In a way, this is a continuation of yesterday’s thoughts on hunger.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)


For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

As we go through our own 40 day journey, it’s helpful to remember that Jesus did not sail through his time in the desert without hardship. The text clearly says that he was hungry. The writer of Hebrews confirms this thought when she writes that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like we were and are.

I think this aspect of Jesus—his humanity, and the true impacts of that fact—is one of the most explosive and neglected aspects of our faith.

Actually, I daresay we are terrified of it.

Though every Christian creed and central belief of the faith clearly states that Jesus was 100% human and 100% God, and though we see it clearly in Scripture, I think we shy away from the human part because of what it could mean for us.

It’s easier to have Jesus only exist “up there” in his perfection, in his “God-ness”. That means that he’s up there to help us in our times of need.

(And he certainly is.)


He is not just “up there.” He’s “down here” too. He’s walked our earth, breathed our air, encountered our troubles.

This isn’t just so he could get crucified.

It’s so he could show us what a human being is capable of. 

And that scares us.

Because it means that we are capable of more.

The incarnation not only says that it’s okay to be human, it actually says that our humanity—it’s brokenness, unpredictability, it’s fragility, etc.—is where salvation takes place.

Not in heaven.



That challenges me.

In a way, I’d rather have Jesus as some kind of distant God that I could never aspire to.

But that’s not what I got.

I got a Jesus—a human being—that was hungry. 

I get hungry.

But the incarnation says, “Don’t wait; God wants to redeem and change and grow you—I almost want to say evolve you—into something more Christlike right now. 

Not when you are “spiritual enough.”

Lent reveals your humanity. Revel in that. And then seek ways to grow to be more like Christ, the ultimate human being, the “2nd Adam,” who has come down in order to raise us up, not only when we die. 






Jesus’ Family Problems

I wrote this for my church’s e-news. Thought I’d include it here. 

During our Tuesday staff meeting, Mark and I were talking about Jesus’ family, and how he experienced not only the blessing of having a father, mother, and siblings, but how he also may have experienced the “blessing” of family loss and sorrow. He encouraged me to write out my thoughts.

You see, Jesus did in fact have an earthly father; his name was Joseph. However, scripture records something interesting about Joseph, namely that he disappears

Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus by Guido Reni, c 1635 via Wikipedia

relatively early in the story of Jesus’ life. In fact, the last mention of Joseph in the gospels comes in Luke chapter 2, when Jesus is about 12 years old. After that, there’s no mention of Joseph at all in Jesus’ adult ministry. Tradition has held that Joseph died, leaving his wife and children alone.Even understanding that “adulthood” began a lot earlier than it does for us today, that’s pretty huge.

Jesus grew up without an earthy father.

Jesus also had a family, and Mark’s gospel actually lists Jesus’ brothers and sisters (in a way): James, Joseph, Judas, Simon, and sisters (plural, though they remained nameless). Including Jesus, that makes at least seven children.

All without a father to provide and care for them.

What’s more, we are also told in Scripture that those brothers and sisters didn’t think too much of their preaching brother. Mark notes that his family thought he was “out of his mind” (3:21), and John indicates that even at the cross, Jesus had to hand his mother over to the care of the apostle John (John 19:25-27), implying that his brothers and sisters were nowhere to be found.

They wanted no part of Jesus’ life, much less his death. 

(In their defense, Jesus’ brothers eventually came around to recognized him as Messiah; his brother James was the leader of the Jerusalem church and eventually wrote the book of James).

So, though Jesus knew a loving mother, and had an earthly father, as well as brothers and sisters, he also knew…

… the lack of a father

… the possible poverty and marginalization that a widowed family of seven children endures

… rejection and abandonment from his brothers and sisters

What I’m trying to say—and what part of the “Good News” is—is that not only does Jesus come to us in the midst of our family wholeness, he comes to us in our family brokenness. 

He knows it.


He knows our sorrows, as well as our joys.