The human Saviour
How human was Jesus?
It’s a trick question. We can be certain that Jesus was as human as we are. We can be 100% certain that Jesus was 100% human.
But you know it seems to me that we want to ‘protect’ Jesus from being human. You just have to think of the carols we love, and the words we love to sing. Take Away in a manger, which we’ve just sung:
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
Are we sure about that? Little baby Jesus didn’t cry? I think we have built a kind of ‘fence’ around Jesus so that we protect him from any hint of sin or imperfection. If Jesus is sinless and perfect, he couldn’t have cried when he was a baby, right? Wrong.
Crying is all babies have.
What’s that empty feeling in my tummy?
I’d better cry! I’ll be full again soon.
What’s that sticky feeling in my pants?
I’d better cry! That big person will come and clean me.
Babies cry, and you can be sure Jesus cried when the cattle were ‘lowing’. We don’t have to protect Jesus from being human.
I was delighted a couple of weeks ago to come across a poem called Noel. It was written only last month by a local person. It’s a poem about Jesus’ humanity, and it pulls no punches. The author of this poem has an amazing mind. She is a woman in her late thirties who has a diagnosis of intellectual impairment. Her primary means of expressing herself is through ‘facilitated communication’. Despite having very limited functional speech, she has a startling ‘voice’! I had a ‘conversation’ with her last week. It was only possible because a psychologist used facilitated communication.
The poet is a person of faith. She believes as I do that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, ‘the Word made flesh’, the Son of God become one of us.
She believes this, but she doesn’t have to protect Jesus. She needs Jesus’ humanity to be a full humanity. I’m guessing, but I reckon that she needs the full humanity of Jesus because she has been ignored; rejected; despised; shamed—just like Jesus was. She identifies very closely with him.
Listen to her poem, Noel:
The 1st Noel
The baby did cry
His mother could not quieten him
Christ, the noisy saviour
The 2nd Noel
The baby did crawl
His mother could not stop the falls
Bruised Christ, the bloody saviour
The 3rd Noel
The baby did run
Poor Maria could not catch her son
Running Christ, the quick elusive saviour
The 4th Noel
The baby did tantrum
Maria did cry with embarrassment
Christ, the mad bad saviour
Jesus is fully human, with all that means. He was a boy; he exasperated Mary and Joseph at times. He stayed back at the temple when he was twelve, and frightened them half to death. Another time his mother Mary thought that the adult Jesus was mad and bad, and came to have him taken away. He eluded capture on more than one occasion. And later, Jesus fell on the way to the cross—and bled for us.
It’s crucially important that Jesus is completely human. When we are rejected, misunderstood and alone, there is one who has been there, who knows and cares about us. But more than that, one who is alive today. We’re not remembering the birth of a dead hero today. We’re celebrating the birth of a risen Saviour, the living Lord Jesus. All his suffering has been taken into God and has been transformed and filled with meaning.
That meaning is, of course, that he taught us the way to live. That he lived and died for us to bring us life and healing. That his Spirit lives within us now. Our lives, with their seasons of joy and sadness, also have meaning as we relate to Jesus. Christ is the noisy bloody quick elusive mad bad Saviour. All for us.
The woman who wrote these words has become a three-dimensional person to me. I could easily have ignored her; after all, she can’t speak much at all. I could have assumed that she had nothing to say. But through her poetry and with the aid of facilitated communication, I have found that she is an interesting and highly articulate person.
As we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember that Jesus is fully human. Let’s allow ourselves and others to be fully human. Let’s look for the humanity of others, especially those who are hard to understand or accept. Let’s walk the way of Jesus. Amen.