Thursday, October 25, 2012

Like Us Yet So Different

I've been doing some studying on the humanness of Jesus for an upcoming event, and I've been struck by the incredible paradox between His similarities as a person yet distinct differences in how He lived out His personhood. Here are a few examples of those and how they've impacted me:

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Jesus was loyal. As a man with 12 close friends, he was always supportive and encouraging of them. Even Peter, probably the most thick-skulled of the disciples, received Jesus' loyalty. This gives me such hope because if Peter can deny Jesus unto His death and He would still entrust His church to him, then no matter what I do I can be confident that the Lord will stick by my side. And I know that because Jesus went all the way to the cross when even God the Father turned His back on Him, He will always be a loyal friend.

Jesus was faithful. There were so many times when Jesus could have let His glory be made manifest to those around Him, but He held back because it was not yet His time. He could have displayed His Kingship to the people so they could worship Him right then and there, but that wasn't the cup His Father gave Him. The faithful man He was, Jesus did only that which His Father had given Him to do, even to give up His life so that I could live. His commitment to taking my sins from me and exchanging them for righteousness was unwavering - exactly the kind of friend we all want from another person.

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Jesus was compassionate. I think that on one level it would be easier to be compassionate with strangers, as He was with the sick and poor, and much more difficult with those closest to you. The Scriptures identify so many instances where Jesus' disciples "didn't get it" or lacked faith in Him, and yet Jesus was still able to have compassion for them. One example of this is with Thomas, who is famous for doubting Jesus had resurrected until he saw with his own eyes and touched His scars with his own hands. Why did Jesus do this? One reason is that He had compassion for Thomas' struggle for faith and allowed Him to physically experience His resurrection so that he might believe. And Jesus' compassion for Thomas was also compassion for us today when we struggle to believe, because we have not seen (as Thomas did).

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As I meditate on these, I see how human Jesus is and can relate to Him so much more than before. It's almost like I can see His decision points where He chose to keep loving instead of fall away to selfishness or sin (like I do). I can appreciate His own struggles and the heavy weight of continuing to choose to obey the Father rather than appease His own flesh. In fact, I feel the weariness of those continued choices compounding, as each one makes the one following it that much more difficult because Jesus was bearing the weight of my sin rather than punishing me for it right there on the spot. Yes, the cross was a fatal burden to bear, but looking at His life I also see His astounding love which enabled Him to carry that burden for years prior to His death as He ministered to the people around Him. He was a man like us, yet so different from any man I've ever known.

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