Tuesday, November 11, 2008

being human: like father, like son

“Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” – Jn 5:19

This is what Jesus tells his disciples right after healing a cripple on the Sabbath. “I can only do what I know. And all I know is what the Father does.” More often than not, whenever we think of Jesus’ miracles we think of Jesus’ divinity. “He’s God. Of course he can raise the dead.” Or so goes our line of thinking. Now, there is a kernel of truth to our statement. But for the most part, thinking of Jesus the “healer” as Jesus the “divine” is wrong. And the reason we’re wrong is because we are assuming that there is a split between Jesus’ humanity and Jesus’ divinity. And our assumption is wrong. Because Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Not 50/50. Not schizophrenic, as if Jesus was divine half of the time (when he heals cripples) and human the other half of the time (when he yells at the Pharisees). No. Jesus is fully both. And so whenever Jesus heals a cripple on the Sabbath, which is the context of this verse, Jesus is revealing to us what it means to be fully human. He’s not being Jekyll and holding back his inner-Hyde. He’s being Jesus – the God-man – fully human, and fully divine.

You see, we often try and understand Jesus’ full humanity by looking at ourselves and then projecting our humanity onto Jesus. In other words, we assume that we are fully human and then we use our experience to understand Jesus. But this is crazy. Jesus understands us fully. But sadly, it doesn’t work the other way around.

You see, using our supposed “full humanity” to understand Jesus is like drinking a cup of polluted sewer water to understand how wonderful purified Dasani tastes. Of course, it’s hard to blame us for our error. The polluted sewer water is all that we know. But to drink our sewer water and say, “ahh, that’s the good stuff” is to make a huge mistake. But that’s exactly what we do. We take our experience and say, “ahh, that’s what it means to be fully human.” And in doing so, we make a huge mistake.

This may sound odd, but we’re not fully human. Again: we are not fully human. And the miracle of the incarnation isn’t just that Jesus is fully divine, but that Jesus is fully human as well. And so if we want to know what it means to be fully human, we can’t look at ourselves. We have to look at Jesus. And I think this bible verse gives us a huge clue as to what full humanity looks like.

Full humanity is living a life of total and complete dependence on our Father in heaven. Full humanity is seeing what the Father does and then doing the same. Fully humanity is being the perfect image of God. “Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”

UNTIL THURSDAY: Come to terms with the fact that we are not fully human. We’re not purified Dasani. And because of that, we do not understand what it means for Jesus to be fully human. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Jesus’ act of healing that cripple was the most human thing he could have done. It wasn’t a “supernatural act.” It was a natural fully human act. And that’s why we can’t understand it. Each of us must come to terms with the fact that we are not fully human. Only Jesus is. Once we acknowledge our diminished humanity, we can begin to joyfully anticipate – and even live into – the full humanity Jesus promises will one day be given to us in the resurrection of the dead.


Adam said...

This is a really cool way of looking at this scripture! I can see your thesis informing your thought. One thing, though -- Dasani is basically tap water. How about some natural spring water, man!

KAM said...

Hope the branch doesn't break while you're out on that limb.