The four Gospels––Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John––present us with astonishing insights into the person and life of Jesus Christ. In them Jesus is presented as a teacher radically challenging the traditional interpretations of the law provided by the existing scholars of his time (“you have heard that it was said… but I tell you,” Matt 5:21-22, 27–28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44, 11:22, 24, 36). He is a revolutionary who challenged the religious, economic, and political insights and practices of his own people (Matt 15:1-20). He is a healer going around the villages, addressing both physical (Mark 1:29–33) and spiritual deaths. He is both a superstar (Matt 21:1-11; Mark 6:31) and a supervillain (Matt 21:12-17; 26:47; 27:22). He is a preacher of the good news of the coming kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). He is an exorcist defeating demons and releasing captives free (Mark 1:32-34). He is like Captain Planet able to control and command the forces of nature (Matt 8:23-27; 14:22-27). He is a miracle-worker able even to raise the dead back to life (Matt 9:18-25). But also, in the midst of all these wonderful depictions of who Jesus is, the Gospels interestingly and consistently portray Jesus as a human being.
What overwhelms me, however, and really catches my attention is the portrayal of the sheer humanness of Jesus. We read about him as a baby at a dirty, smelly stable at Bethlehem, surrounded by his father, mother, a few shepherds, and probably some animals (Luke 2:4-16). He was a baby circumcised on the eighth day, bleeding from the cut (Luke 2:21). He was a boy growing in wisdom, being taught by his parents about righteousness (Luke 2:40, 52). We read about him sitting tired and thirsty at the well outside Samaria, hoping for a drink (John 4:6). We read about him being so exhausted because of the many people flocking to him (Mark 6:31). We read about him trying to regain his strength by sleeping at the back of a boat (Matt 8:23-25). We read about him being hungry for figs on the way to Jerusalem, and childishly looking for fruit (Mark 11:12-13). We read about him weeping at the news of the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35). We read him thirsting for water on the cross (John 19:28). These are the things that fascinate me: God becoming human and sharing our human experiences of limitations and weaknesses.
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God is portrayed to be not only with us as Immanuel, but as one of us, sharing in our hunger, thirst, tears, pain, and even death. If in the realization that Jesus is God we are confronted by One who is transcendent, exalted, and extremely other; in the realization that Jesus is human, we are confronted by One who is so imminent, so near, and so mundane. In the human Christ we have One who is willing to sit among us and beside us, willing to be embraced and willing to embrace, willing to enter our not-so-tidy homes, willing to dine with us in our own messy kitchen, willing to sit down in our sofa chairs, willing to chat with us, willing to listen to our troubles and stories, willing to be there in our own level as finite, ordinary, and even nervous human beings. This is the good news about the God-man, Jesus Christ.
– Dr. Dick Eugenio is the Academic Dean of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary and SDMI Field Coordinator of the Philippine-Micronesia Field.