Thursday, January 26, 2012

And the Word was made flesh

Dean Russell D. Moore on why "The Humanity of Christ Matters":
Several years ago, a brutal stomach virus crept through the seminary community where I serve as dean. One day, knowing that most of the students in my classroom were on the upswing from this sickness, I posed the question, “Did Jesus ever have a stomach virus?”

.... These students were still reeling not just from the discomfort of the stomach flu, but also from its indignity. They had been wracked with vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and chills. They still smarted from the sense of having no control over the most disgusting of bodily functions.

So when I asked this question, these ministers of the gospel hesitated. The stomach virus wasn’t just awful; it was undignified. And thinking of Jesus in relation to the most foul and embarrassing aspects of bodily existence seemed to them to be just on the verge of disrespectful, if not blasphemous.

Why is it so hard for us to imagine Jesus vomiting?

The answer to this question has to do, first of all, with the one-dimensional picture of Jesus so many of us have been taught, or have assumed. Many of us see Jesus either as the ghostly friend in the corner of our hearts, promising us heaven and guiding us through difficulty, or we see him simply in terms of his sovereignty and power, in terms of his distance from us. No matter how orthodox our doctrine, we all tend to think of Jesus as a strange and ghostly figure.

But the bridging of this distance is precisely at the heart of the scandal of the gospel itself. It just doesn’t seem right to us to imagine Jesus feverish or vomiting or crying in a feeding trough or studying to learn his Hebrew. From the very beginning of the Christian era, those who sought to redefine the gospel argued that it doesn’t seem right to think of Jesus as really flesh and bone, filled with blood and intestines and urine. It doesn’t seem right to think of Jesus as growing in wisdom and knowledge, as Luke tells us he did. Somehow such things seem to us to detract from his deity, from his dignity.

But that’s just the point. .... [more]