by Shannon Caughey
Perhaps there is a coach or athlete you’ve held in very high esteem and admired from a distance. Maybe you view them as almost “larger than life.” Then you have a chance to meet them and talk with them. You discover that they are humble and down-to-earth. They’re much easier to relate to than you anticipated. As a result of this interaction, your admiration for them deepens even more.
In the last devotion, we looked at how the “profile” of the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas includes this characteristic: Jesus is fully God. We could say that Jesus is truly “larger than life.” In Luke 1:32, the angel Gabriel proclaims this about Jesus: “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” But in this same conversation with Mary, Gabriel makes it clear that the baby she’ll soon give birth to is fully human as well as fully God: “You will conceive and give birth to a son…” (Luke 1:31). Jesus enters this world in the same way as all of us and lives among us as one of us. He gives people a chance to meet him and relate to him.
The fact that Jesus is fully human as well as fully God is a difference-maker for us! The book of Hebrews highlights both characteristics of Jesus’ profile. As we saw in the last devotion, Hebrews opens by reminding us that Jesus is fully God. Hebrews goes on to proclaim that Jesus is also fully human. Here are two reasons why this matters:
1) Because he is fully human, Jesus is able to accomplish what’s needed to rescue us from the penalty we deserve for our sin. In Scripture, the role of a priest is to represent God to people and to represent people before God – essentially a “go-between” in the relationship between the holy God and sinful people. Hebrews refers to Jesus as our High Priest. Jesus is the ultimate “go-between” in this relationship. Furthermore, Jesus makes the restoration of this relationship between the holy God and sinful people like us possible through what he does as our representative. And he’s able to be our representative because he’s fully human.
Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.” At the cross, Jesus offered the sacrifice of his own life, dying in our place as our representative. By this sacrifice, Jesus paid the penalty we deserve to pay for our sin against God. Because he’s fully human and yet, unlike us, lived a life without sin, he’s able to be the perfect sacrifice needed to make amends for our sin. When we respond in faith to Jesus and what he’s done, we’re rescued from what we deserve and reconciled to the holy God who loves us.
2) Because he is fully human, Jesus knows what we experience in life – so he understands what we face and supplies what we need.When we think of someone being a High Priest, maybe what comes to mind is a person who is removed from ordinary life. Perhaps we think that a High Priest doesn’t really understand the challenges we face. Hebrews 4:15-16 assures us that this is not the case with Jesus: “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Because Jesus lived on earth as one who is fully human, he knows what life is like for us: the good, the bad, and the ugly. He never gave in to the temptation to sin, but he understands what it’s like to be tested in all kinds of ways. He experienced the challenges we face, the emotions we wrestle with, and the ups and downs of daily life. Because this is true, we can come to him with confidence. We know that he knows what we’re experiencing. We trust that he knows exactly what we need in every situation. When we come to Jesus, we come to the one who is full of mercy and grace.
This Christmas celebrate the arrival of the Son of God who is worthy of our highest esteem. And rejoice in knowing that you don’t have to admire him only from a distance. Jesus is fully human as well as fully God. He comes humbly and walks among us. Draw close to the one who made it possible for you to relate to him and who understands you completely. Let this deepen your worship of him even more.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to reflect on the fact that Jesus is fully human. Let this truth renew and deepen your confidence in drawing near to him. Praise him because he is our High Priest who understands our weaknesses.