The Incarnation and the whole range of human life

God becoming man involved more than just His assumption of a human body, but his entry into all of the elements of human life.

So observed Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, the Executive Director of the Commission on Theology & Church Relations of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, in a sermon I heard last week in the chapel at the church headquarters in St. Louis.  He was preaching about Jesus at the wedding at Cana.  That God became man meant that He went to weddings, that He had obligations to His mother, that He feasted and drank wine.  That got me thinking. . . That Christ was fully human means that He was incarnate into culture.  The gospels show Him involved with a whole range of human experiences:  a child in trouble with his parents, dealing with sickness, work, family, economics, (oppressive) government, injustice, going to weddings, going fishing, considering the lilies of the field, getting arrested, being jostled in crowds, being by himself, being situated in a particular society and moment in history, was weary, angry, slept, was hungry and thirsty, wept, grieved at the death of a friend, was tortured, suffered pain, died.

He didn’t sin.  One would think that would be a part of the whole range of human life, but it isn’t really.  Jesus reveals sin to be precisely inhuman, inhumane,  a violation and distortion of what God made human beings to be.

The Book of Hebrews says that He was made like us “in every respect” and was also tempted like us “in every respect.”  But, He refused to sin, and so is more human than any of the rest of us.  Which leads us to some of the most astonishing and comforting words in Scripture:

17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2: 17-18)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4: 15-16)

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.