And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…
Flesh. Human skin on a body of blood and bone. This is what Jesus was. What does it mean that He called Himself Son of Man? That He pushed His divinity down into a baby-sized package and grew up as a human?
I’ve heard entire sermons on the fact that since Jesus was human, He can sympathize with our humanity (Heb. 4:15, 1 Tim. 2:5). I have no doubt of this. But still, I want to push deeper. Does the fact that Jesus had a physical body imply that our physical world means something? Perhaps more than I’ve ever even considered?
I spend a lot of time contemplating the spiritual. We live within two realities: the physical world and the spiritual one of the Kingdom, yet often I tend to dismiss the physical in favor of the spiritual, like some sort of modern-day Gnostic.
Jesus got hungry (Matt. 21:18). He got so tired one time that He fell asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm (Matt. 8:24). He tried to get away from people when He was worn out (Matt. 14:13). He was angry, disappointed, joyful, sorrowful, and every other emotion we are capable of feeling.
All of these things happened to Him because He was human. And now I’m wondering… if humanity was good enough for Jesus, why isn’t it good enough for me? Why do I spend so much time trying to rationalize away my own humanity when I’m tired, or hungry, or upset, or disappointed? Why do I push myself past the point of sanity in an attempt to do more, be more, achieve more, so as to make a mark in the spiritual kingdom?
Why do I live with the mistaken assumption that because this physical world, and ourselves, with it, will one day be transformed, this world is less-than? What’s really going to happen is that God will take what already exists and make it better. We’re not going to lose our humanity, or the world we live in, so much as we’re going to gain a perfect version of what we already have. The building blocks of God’s eternal kingdom exist within the seed of this world.
I’m wondering if this is true: that sometimes the most God-honoring thing I can do with myself is take a nap when I’m tired. It would be a step toward embracing the remarkable, God-created world that exists around me, starting with my own body.
For a brief period in history, a human body was good enough to house the Lord of the Universe. God could have come in something that only looked like a body, like angels do when they show up. But He chose to come as an actual human, and in so doing He elevated our own humanity, breathing eternity into our finite state. He started out as a baby just like the rest of us, the Word becoming flesh.