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“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1
“Now the next day….He was hungry…” Mark 11:12
“Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled…Jesus wept” John 11:35,36
“Simon Peter answered and said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. Jesus answered and said to him” ‘Blessed are you…for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven'”. Matthew 16::17
My vocation for many a year before and also at least part time while writing has been as an instructor of adults. Most often, I am an unknown quantity when I start off a class that I am teaching. Sometimes the question is asked outright but if not, it is almost always written in the facial expressions of some in the classroom: “Why should I be listening to you?” In other words what credibility do I have that allows me to stand before them and teach certain aspects of whatever lesson it is that I am presenting. Often, if I am not able to demonstrate my credibility in the subject I am teaching, I will lose a significant portion of my audience.
Well enough about me and I only started with that illustration to introduce and illustrate the topic of credibility. For it seemed that would be question that would dog Jesus, the entire time He was here on earth as well as to a certain extent even today. Why should we listen to Jesus Christ?
To the Jewish leadership, the main problem with credibility was Jesus Himself. Jesus was a man and a seemingly fairly nondescript, common sort of man. He seemed to come from Galilee which seemed to have no scriptural credibility for sending forth a Messiah. Second, this man, this Jesus was so meek. This surely didn’t seem to be the king who was going to oust the cursed Roman Army and lift the Jewish state to the pinnacle of all the world’s nations. Okay, granted Jesus seemed to do a lot of miracles but there had to be some trick or maybe Jesus was really playing for the other side, the real bad guys. Maybe that’s why Jesus had so much power over demons the Jewish leadership proposed.
Greatly because of the Jewish leadership’s skepticism and outright hostility to Jesus, the common people of Israel did not know what to make of Jesus either. Scripture tells us they listened gladly but would often turn away, sometimes even becoming violent toward Jesus, when He questioned their motives and their human devised traditions.
Now’s here the flip side of the credibility argument I from time to time come across as to what Jesus taught and how He lived. It goes something like this; “turn the other cheek, love your enemies, don’t be afraid, don’t worry, don’t get angry, don’t lust” and so many other things are easy when you’re God. But Jesus being Christ doesn’t get it. He doesn’t and can’t even understand what I’m going through for two reasons; he lived so long ago and, again HE’S GOD! Now because Jesus Christ really doesn’t understand then His teachings don’t quite really apply. I mean, sure, they’re well and good for Him as God, but they don’t really apply directly to me and my good ole, bad ole human nature.
Yet Dear Sisters and Brothers, here’s the most amazing, unique thing in all of existence. Again this is something, because scripture tells it and the Holy Spirit testifies to it, that I truly, wholeheartedly believe but I can’t begin to truly grasp or understand; Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human. Just ponder that for a moment and try to come to grips with how wonderful a gift that is. Prior to being human, Jesus Christ knew no hunger, knew no sorrow, knew no anger; He didn’t have to sleep, didn’t have to stop and rest, no physical pain ever afflicted Him. Yet Jesus Christ gave all that up so that He could nearly fully experience the existance of human with the one exception being, Jesus never sinned.
Jesus Christ knows anguish. He knows hunger. He has experienced frustration. From a flesh perspective He tells us in the garden, He knows how the flesh can be weak. And here’s the other amazingly, grace filled outcome of Jesus experience; He knows what to do about it. Because He is God, Jesus knows that we are not capable, on our own of accomplishing the teachings He laid out for us. Jesus Christ knows that on our own or even in human groups, we will fail and fail miserably. That is why Jesus doesn’t want us to even try! That is why Jesus said and knew by His own experience that humans, apart from God would never prevail. That is why He extols us, He pleads with us to come to Him, to trust and have faith in Him, to call upon Him, to abide in Him. With and through Him, all things are possible.
Is Jesus Christ credible? Was Jesus Christ human? Was Jesus Christ God? Well as to human, Jesus Christ has been there, done that and has the nail scarred hands and feet to prove it. As to God, Jesus Christ defeated death and rose again and ascended into heaven, no human has ever done that. There is no question as to Jesus Christ’s credibility. Then the only remaining question is; will we accept His credibility and thus live into the rich life, He sacrificed so much for us to have?
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are indeed mystified and must humbly confess that we can not grasp the true enormity of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made in leaving the heavenly realm to become fully human. Yet we also boldly confess that we believe that Jesus Christ was fully God at the same time. We are filled with praise and gratitude that Jesus Christ would come to share our existence with its human induced pain and suffering. We are even more grateful that He, being blameless would do what no human could do and take upon Himself our sin and our blame so that we in turn, could come redeemed into Your presence. Forgive us Most Merciful Father when we are tempted to trivialize the sacrifice of Jesus becoming human or worst yet, doubt that He was fully God. Pour out Your Spirit upon us that, through the indwelling of the Spirit, we will answer the invitation to abide in Christ which is the only way to achieve our true, desired destiny. That in abiding in Your One and Only Truly Begotten Son, we would live lives that bring praise to Your Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen