Eldredge deals with a controversial topic: the humanity of Jesus. Maybe no other Christian topic has been so fiercely debated, argued, and even killed over than the humanity of Jesus. The Nicene Creed has served as the benchmark for orthodox Christianity on the subject of Jesus and how exactly to divide up or if we need to divide up his divinity and humanity. The creed accepted by almost all major Christian denominations suggests that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. He was and is God and was and is God's Son. He was fully God and fully man. On those proclamations we stand and hold true, but have you ever stopped to think about what we hold true?
What does it mean to be fully God and fully human . . . fully divine and fully human? It plainly means that while Jesus was on earth, He did not cease to be God. The throne was not absent of the Divine One. The universe was not missing its Creator. Jesus in flesh was still very much God. And while we all accept that, preach that, believe that, and announce that, it's the other side that troubles us. What do we do with the humanity of Jesus?
The writer of Hebrews explains that Christ was tempted as all of us are. We understand through scriptures that Jesus was tried, persecuted, and experienced life as we do. He knew sorrow based on the scene at Lazarus' grave. He knew anger as witnessed in the temple table turnover. He knew compassion as witnessed by the woman caught in the act of adultery. He knew anguish and even anxiety as witnessed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew frustration as witnessed with his disciples. He knew "suffocation" as He often attempted to go off by Himself alone unsuccessfully. Jesus was fully God and He was fully human.
And to say that is to really make a big jump. We know He never sinned otherwise His sacrifice would not be accepted as spotless and unblemished for our sins. I'm going to warn you. I'm about to say some things that have a good possibility of making you uncomfortable. Eldredge does a great job of this in the book. If Jesus was fully human and experienced life and was tempted as we are, He undoubtedly had to have been tempted with the opposite sex. Is it possible that Jesus the Son of Man may have had romantic feelings at one time or another? He most assuredly was tempted in this area if scripture is true and He was tried in every way that we are and yet rose victorious setting the example for us.
If Jesus was also fully human, He undoubtedly enjoyed life the way we do many times. Scriptures give us a peek at some of his own playfulness. Why was it that He chose to disguise Himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus? Other indications in scripture allow us to see that Jesus undoubtedly laughed, had fun, enjoyed other people, understood friendships and even close relationships. And we also understand the Bible is clear that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same Jesus that is pictured in the Bible is the same Jesus that exists and is at the right hand of the Father today. If scripture was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (and it was) then what we see of Jesus in the four gospels, beginning of Acts, and Revelation is exactly the Jesus we are supposed to see and know. Could it then be possible that we like the disciples, like Mary and Martha, like the centurion, like John the Baptist, might experience a relationship with Jesus in such a close knit way? Of course we can.
The problem begins to arise in Eldredge refers to as our trained religious fog. We have a hard time even entertaining having that type of friendship, playful, enthusiastic relationship with Jesus due to a misunderstanding of reverence. We have quite frankly reverenced the relationship Jesus so desires with us right out the window. There was a reason the veil in the temple was torn. It wasn't for us to stitch it up again to prove our reverence, respect, and devotion to Christ. Neither Eldredge or especially myself would ever promote disrespecting the Savior of the world. But what would it be like to be John who constantly laid on Jesus' chest? Don't you think Jesus still allows that today? What would it be like to have the relationship with Jesus that Peter had? What relationship? The kind that makes you jump out of a boat at 100 yards from shore and swim just so you can wrap your wet self around Jesus in an embrace of love and devotion. How much does this differ from the way we communicate with Jesus today?
We treat Him as if He is far off and yet He desires to be so close. This book opened my eyes to a lot of things and some things I definitely needed to hear and see. We serve a New Testament Jesus, not an Old Testament Jesus. He certainly is the same Jesus, but in the New Testament, He gives us another path to knowing Him. How disappointing to you think it is for Him to have paid for that pathway with His own blood and life only to see us trying to approach Him through temple practices, sacrificial offerings, and our own laundry list of holy checklist keeping standards. If Jesus IS a friend that sticks closer than a brother, isn't it about time we start experiencing Him as such?