I'm Only Human... But That's Not the Problem
Reflecting on the Fifth Sunday in Lent, One Day after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 20
Old Testament: Exodus 40:1-15
Epistle: Hebrews 10:19-25
God of wilderness and water, your Son was baptized and tempted as we are. Guide us through this season, that we may not avoid struggle, but open ourselves to blessing, through the cleansing depths of repentance and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:19-25).
I’m only human. This is something we say or hear said when explaining a wrong done or when exhibiting a flaw in our character. I'm only human. It’s another way of saying, “I’m not perfect,” or “I’m frail.” I’m only human. It’s another way of saying, “I’m a sinner.”
But to equate our humanity with sin is quite problematic from a theological standpoint. Nowhere does the Bible equate sin with humanity. Nowhere does the Bible state that the problem with humanity is that it is human. God created us human. The problem, the Bible insists, is our sin, which is something entirely different from our humanity. Our sin is not a revelation of our humanity; rather it demonstrates that we are less than human, we are not what God created us to be.
The Christian belief in Incarnation is an affirmation of our humanity. Jesus was fully human. The fact that he was without sin, as the Book of Hebrews claims (Hebrews 4:15), is what makes Jesus fully human. You and I are human, but our sin will not allow us to put the adverb “fully” in the description. Jesus Christ has come to change that. Salvation in Jesus Christ is the work by which God intends to restore our humanity, and that gives us confidence and assurance even in the frailty of our fallen humanity. Hebrews states, “…since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”
”Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23). Only a fully human (and fully divine) Jesus can restore the cracked image of God in us and return us to the full height of our humanity, the humanity God intended for us. Without this salvation, we will hopelessly remain less than human.
Check out my little book, Who is Jesus? The Puzzle and the Portraits of a Divine Savior, here.