Sermon Summary, Jan 17, 2016, “The Humanity of Jesus”
Christians make the claim that Jesus was both divine and human. To us, the incarnate Christ makes all the difference. Yet in the world of reason, where is the line drawn and what does it matter?
What do we need to believe to be a Christian. Wesley often said, “In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” Then he neglected to tell us the essentials. We talked of two of them last week: Jesus was a historical figure who lived among us; and two, the Gospels can be relied on to portray who he was.
But what do we need to believe? Jefferson did not believe in any supernatural aspects of Jesus. How Jeffersonian can we be? Need we believe in the Virgin Birth? Probably not an essential. Yet as one who believes in the Virgin Birth, I don’t think it was one of God’s great miracles, adding a little genetic code, DNA, the language of God to Mary’s. And in search of the human Jesus, “being born in human likeness,” Jesus was born of woman. Actually, the story is less about genetics and biology that it is about who Jesus is, a part of the Trinity.
Another question of humanity, was Jesus married? Not a question most of us would ask until Dan Brown challenged it in The Davinci Code. He would argue that all good Jewish young men married. It was expected. Yet we find John the Baptist (nd the Essenses with whom John probably lived), as well as Saul (the Pharisee a good Jew, who became Paul) who never married. Not essential, yet had the gospels been written with a married Jesus, it probably would not have mattered.
And what of Mary Magdalene who Dan Brown said was his wife and mother of his child? Mary who was portrayed in “Jesus Christ Superstar” as loving Jesus. Mary was one of the most important characters in Scripture. Mary from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Mary at the foot of the cross. Mary at the tomb. Mary who announces the Good News, ‘I have seen the Lord!” Mary who more that likely loved Jesus. And since Jesus was human, we might have expected him to have feelings for her. But there is nothing in the Bible or any first century documentation to think he was married.
It was from the humanity of Jesus that we come to know his compassion and passion, the compassion of Jesus that cares for us, the passion of Jesus that sacrifices for us. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them…” (Mt 9:35) And all of the stories tell of his patience and compassion for the people.
It is the humanity of Jesus that has compassion. It is the Universal Church that gives compassion to the world in his stead today. That’s us. Thomas á Kempis says, “We must imitate the life and conversation of Christ.” We do that with our compassion for the world, the ones Jesus would have compassion for today.