THE HUMANITY AND DIVINITY OF JESUS
We take so many things for granted, but only at rare moments we begin to see the meaning of mysteries. Recently, during an early morning mediation the question came up, when did Jesus know that he was son of God? We often believe that Jesus knew from his childhood that he was son of God.
We read that Mary kept everything in her heart (Luke 2: 51) and she might not have told Jesus about Angel Gabriel, circumstance of his birth, the visits of the wise men and Joseph not being his biological Father. This careful parenting and the resulting lack of knowledge about his divinity might have been important to Jesus to grow up as natural as possible with full human emotions and understanding. But Jesus almost revealed his divinity when he was about twelve years old, when his parents found him in the temple court, sitting amongst teachers, listening to them and asking searching and intelligent questions which surprised everyone. In answering to his mother’s question: “Son, why have you treated us like this? Jesus answered, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” For some mysterious reason no one understood the far reaching implication of this revelation, Jesus then quietly returned to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them like any twelve year old child, but grew in wisdom and stature.
Years later, when Jesus went to Jordan and took his place among others to seek guidance as to what to do with his life and got baptised by his cousin John that he realised that he is son of God. John and Jesus heard the declaration from heaven that 'he is my beloved son.' Jesus then spent 40 days in the wilderness pondering over this, meditating and praying. If he had that knowledge earlier on, he could not have lived with his family in that carpenter's shop. The early silent 30 years of Jesus' life is equally important in understanding the fullness of Jesus' ministry. Dorothy L. Sayer’s appreciation of Jesus humanity and divinity is of some help: “If Christ was only a man, then he is entirely irrelevant to any thought about God; if he is only God, then he is entirely irrelevant to any experience of human life.” It is in this reality we see through Jesus what man can be and what God is meant to be.
In the Hindu religion there is a very interesting story about this God realisation of an earthly mother of Lord Krishna, Yashoda. One day when Krishna was playing with his playmates, some of them told Yashoda that Krishna had eaten some dirt. She scolded Krishna by saying, “Naughty boy, why have you eaten dirt? Your friends and your elder brother say, you have.” Krishna replied, “Mother, I have not eaten dirt. They are telling fibs and pulling your legs, but if you think they speak the truth, look into my mouth.” She said to Krishna, “If that is what you want, then open your mouth.” When Yashoda looked inside she saw she saw the whole universe, heaven, stars and galaxies, and earth with its mountains, rivers and oceans. She saw her village and herself inside his mouth. Krishna immediately realised his mischief and felt that his mother cannot survive in such a heightened awareness and brought her back to her ordinary maternal instincts and she lost the memory of that amazing revelation and took her son on to her lap and kissed him. She was again an ordinary earthly mother, but her heart was full of love and admiration for her little amazing mischievous boy. Many others including Arjuna had that God realisation through Lord Krishna in different stages of his life. The spiritual meaning of the story of Yashoda is important to us as well to appreciate the humanity and divinity of Jesus. It is in the ordinary living and relationships we sense the infinite love of God; ordinary mundane moments have the potential to become extraordinary moments of divine presence and vision. Mary had many such moments and she too ‘treasured all these things in her heart.’
The divinity of Jesus can also be sensed in the loneliness of his life. There are many hidden tensions of this very special kind of solitariness. Lofty thoughts, and expanding views of duty and destiny must have troubled him, but he had no one to share those thoughts with. Even during his ministry in Galilee, he spent times away from his disciples in prayer. When the multitude thronged and pressed him Jesus identified the touch of the woman with a bleeding disorder, by saying, “Somebody has touched me”; this is as if he had woken up from a deep sleep or meditation. Yes, it is true that Jesus felt this ‘divine loneliness’ and even the need to keep a divine secret. He kept his two natures in perfect harmony. He not only gave sympathy to others, who needed it, he wanted love and sympathy too from others; Jesus found friendship in John and enjoyed the hospitality of Martha and Mary and other under classes of the society. At the very last hours of his life he reassured him and others by saying, “I am not alone: the Father is with me.” This shows his vulnerability, lack of self-sufficiency (humanity), but at the same times his total confidence of his dependency on his Father (divinity). But this loneliness of the spirit is worth meditating upon under divine grace; it is in such moments we realise who we are and what we are here for?
Our understanding of God needed to be fully revised when we learn God became man and lived amongst us. He is not the fierce and angry God of the covenants that we often meet in the Old Testament narratives. Now we need to learn through the grace of God how the divine has been translated and transfigured into the human form in the person of Jesus Christ; now for the first time, through Jesus we can fully understand what man should be. Thus in the mystery of the ‘Christ event’ man is re-made in the image and likeness of Christ and Christ is in then in the likeness and image of God the Father. We read this two fold reality in John’s gospel in number of places. When Philip asked: “Lord, show us the Father.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been with you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say show us the Father? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”(John 14: 8-10).
What is this all about? God created man in His image for companionship; man rebelled against God and created a world of brokenness at every level and every relationship. Since then man is in conflict with himself and all God’s created world. The Bible tells the story how God has tried to heal this fractured world though Abraham, patriarchs, Moses, judges, prophets, kings and finally through Jesus and the Church. Prophetic expectations of Messiah and the real ‘Christ event’ were different; Jewish religious scholarships of the time and hierarchies had difficulties in coming to terms with Jesus phenomenon. However, in all these instances we see an unrelenting search on the part of God for re-establishing a relationship with man. We see this reality in the stories Jesus told of the lost coin, lost sheep and the prodigal son (Luke 15). God is always out there searching for us and waiting there for us to return to him. When we do this with a contrite heart, God is always there to forgive us, love us and bless us. We have this eternal promise: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13: 5). This is an important aspect of our faith; God came in search of us. One of the early Church Fathers, Irenaeus, said that God became a son of man in order that we might become sons of God.
It is not possible to comprehend the mystery of the incarnation. Cardinal Hume said, “Mysteries are profound truths beyond the grasps of unaided intellects, yet yielding their riches to humble and prayerful.” When Augustine rebuked a boy on the seashore of his foolish efforts in trying to empty an ocean into a small hole in the sand using a bucket, the boy replied, “And you’re wasting your time writing a book about God, you will never get God into a book.” Our minds are not just capable of comprehending God in all his glory and majesty. St. Paul realised this when he wrote: “Now we see it in a mirror, dimly, but then we see face to face” (1Cor 13:12). Theologians, down the ages, have tried to give different names (Eutychiansim, Monophysitism and Hypostatic Union, etc.) for the fact the single person of Jesus is both God and man. The Jehovah's Witnesses focus on Jesus' humanity and ignore his divinity. On the other hand, the Christian Scientists do the opposite, they focus on the scriptures showing Jesus' divinity to the extent of denying his true humanity.
It is only in our humble meditations and prayers we realise that in Jesus Christ we have the privilege of standing at the meeting point of human and divine nature. Christ showed us how to put the interests of others before our own. Jesus the Christ through his life and ministry showed us the ‘human face of God’; what God should mean to us, and what we mean to God. Therefore, when we think of Jesus, we are thinking of a God who speaks to our hearts and mind in a language of love we can understand, a God who appears to us with a human face, wounds and scars. God pours into us his love. Everyone who loves God ‘abides in God and God abides in him’ (1 John 4:16). This provides a partnership and shared responsibility; we can no longer blame God for various malfunctions of this world and its brokenness; we have a responsibility for others and our environment.
|Email this Link to a Friend||Send Your Feedback|
LIGHT OF LIFE
PUBLISHED ON FIRST DAY OF EVERY MONTH