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by Jared Byas

Jared Byas

This week Christians celebrate the crazy idea that God became human.

While affirming this in theory, my evangelical upbringing was very uncomfortable with the idea of Human Jesus. We had to admit Jesus was human but that didn’t mean we had to like it.

After all, God Jesus is where the magic happens. Human Jesus sometimes muddles the important stuff, takes our eyes off the ball about heaven and whatnot. But here I submit 3 reasons why Human Jesus is important to remember:

1. God gets that we are a mess. Jesus experienced the love of his mother and the betrayal of his best friends. He felt the beautiful sensuality of getting his feet wiped with the hair of a young woman and the tortuous pain of getting his feet nailed to a cross.

In seminary it was through seeing Jesus as unapologetically human that I was able to see that God doesn’t want me to become superhuman but wants me to be a loved person.

Christianity isn’t an instruction manual for how to be perfect like God but a story about how God became like us. And that’s a crucial difference.

2. God is willing to join the mess. God doesn’t mind “looking bad” for the sake of those God loves.

If you want to be in relationship with broken humans, you run the risk of looking broken yourself. God doesn’t seem to care. Why do we?Bible House

The streak I see in Human Jesus is the holy being so involved in the lives of the unholy that people are uncomfortable with how, from the outside, it’s hard to tell the difference. I see a God who, for the sake of love would risk reputation, trading in “omnipotent” for “glutton” and “drunk.”

3. Because of #1 & #2, I expect a very human-looking Bible.
If the same God that came to earth as an unimpressive carpenter from an underperforming people group also provided us a book, I would expect it to look very human. Would it run the risk of looking ordinary, unrefined, and altogether human?

Yes. Point taken. The Bible looks a lot like Jesus.


Photo | Bible House by Theen Moy

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Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.