My first course in Seminary was called Theological Understandings of Jesus. It was taught by professor Mark D. Baker. On the first day of the class, he asked us to talk together about (get ready for some nerdy terminology) the hypostatic union. You know, Jesus is fully divine and fully human. That kind of talk.

I was so ready for this!

He drew a big line from top to bottom in the middle of the white board.

On the left he wrote HUMAN. On the right he wrote GODOff we went filling the board with biblical proof of both aspects of the identity of Jesus.

Theological profundities (uhem) rang out from around the room.  On the “fully human” side, we all agreed with things like…

A Human…

  • Wept when his friend died
  • Ate food and drank wine with his friends
  • Slept on the boat
  • Cried out in pain and agony as he was scourged
  • Bled when he was beaten
  • Suffered and Died

and then…

God…

  • Walked on water
  • Multiplied food and fed the multitudes
  • Cast out demons
  • Healed diseases
  • Calmed a storm with a word

There was more, but you get the idea.

We were proud of ourselves. Some of us even knew where the verses were in the Bible that proved how Jesus was human, as well as the ones that proved how he was also running around being God all over the place.

Then, Dr. Baker said – “Before we move on, I’d like to ask you to think about whether or not we might be missing something in these answers.”

What could he mean? We were solid. We got it all right. We nailed this hypostatic union to the wall! What more was there to think about? This was a theological slam dunk if ever there had been one. Honestly, what were we even doing in this class? We had Jesus and the hypostatic union down. Check off the “Jesus box” — next class please!

While some of us were congratulating ourselves for the good work we had done (getting all the right answers in just the right columns), Dr. Baker picked up the eraser and quietly erased the headings on both sides of the board, left the answers right where they were, and re-wrote the headings so that when he stepped back from the board and turned around to the class, it said…

God…

  • Wept when his friend died
  • Ate food and drank wine with his friends
  • Slept on the boat
  • Cried out in pain and agony as he was scourged
  • Bled when he was beaten
  • Suffered and Died

and then…

A Human

  • Walked on water
  • Multiplied food and fed the multitudes
  • Cast out demons
  • Healed diseases
  • Calmed a storm with a word

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus since that first night of seminary. What I mean is — should we be pointing away from Jesus at some “idealized human” that we have in our minds, and then comparing Jesus to that, or is he the idealized human?

And should we think of theological discourse as an exercise in putting up words about God on a white board, and then holding Jesus up next to those to see how he compares, or is he the embodiment of God?

I have discovered that it takes a long time to think about Jesus. It takes a long time to get the message about what God is telling us through the incarnation. It takes a long time to think about what God will be doing in us as we become more like Jesus — who is the exact representation of God in bodily form.

Keep thinking about Jesus.

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