Since God’s children are made of flesh and blood, God’s Son also became flesh and blood. Only as a human being could Jesus die and break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. In this way Christ set us free from slavery to the fear of dying. Jesus had 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 Christ could offer Himself as a sacrifice to take away His people’s sins. Since Jesus Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:14-18, paraphrase)
This post is based on Mark 4:35-41 and builds on Immanuel: Ruler of the Waves
Charles Schulz and Christ
Charles Schulz (1922-2000) was an American cartoonist, the creator of the comic strip Peanuts which features Charlie Brown and Snoopy. At Charles’ memorial service, a friend spoke of Schulz’ humanity and compassion. She said: “He gave everyone in the world characters who knew exactly how all of us felt, who made us feel we were never alone. Schulz and his characters encouraged and sympathized with us.”1
When we feel that no one get us or can help, Scripture reminds that Christ gave us Himself, and He knows exactly who we are and what we are facing today. John W. Peterson’s hymn says:
No one understands like Jesus
When the days are dark and grim
No one is so near so dear as Jesus
Cast your every care on Him
So we pray: Thank You, Lord Christ, for sharing our humanity to save us from our sins, to walk with us through this life, to give us Your help today, and one day to bring us to live in Your presence forever.
Last time we focused on Christ’s Divine Power. We looked at the storm, Jesus’ miracle, and the disciples’ response. And we learned that we are to love, worship, respect, reverence, and trust the Lord. Now we focus on Christ’s Genuine Humanity.
Our Fully Human Savior
In Mark chapter 4, the Lord preached in the open air for hours. Mark records that the crowds are so large, there’s not enough space on the beach, so Jesus teaches from a boat offshore. Maybe the sun was hot and Christ was drained, physically, mentally, and emotionally. So after Jesus finished teaching, He dismissed the crowd and His boat launched off the coast of the Lake of Galilee. But it wasn’t a pleasure cruise. In Mark 5 we learn that Christ was sailing to Gadara (in modern-day Jordan) to save a man possessed by an army of demons.
During the trip across the lake, Jesus slept peacefully in the back of the boat on a cushion, gathering strength for more service to His Father and to people. Only Mark adds the cushion detail. Mark was an assistant to the Apostle Peter and Peter was an eyewitness, being in the boat with Christ. The cushion reminds us that Jesus was and is 100% God and 100% human in one person. So He fully understands us. Luke 8 says that Christ was so tired, He fell into a deep slumber quickly. He was sleeping so soundly, the violent storm didn’t disturb Him. The disciples have to shake Jesus to wake Him.
These truths encourage us! Our Savior is fully and genuinely human. Jesus became one of us forever, without putting off His deity! He got tired, exhausted, and needed sleep, just like us. He’s equal with the Father and the Spirit in greatness and glory, yes! And Christ the God-Man made Himself 100% human, like us in everything except sin.
How encouraging to remember that Jesus knows firsthand about our weariness, our struggles, our difficulties in life. He feels with us when we’re tempted, slandered, rejected, criticized. Isaiah calls Christ the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief and suffering. Jesus is familiar with loneliness, pain, and sickness. He gets us.
A Middle Ages Story
Leprosy ravaged Europe between 1000 and 1400 and a rumor spread that Christ Himself had been distressed by the disease. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus’ face would be disfigured in His suffering before the cross and on it. He would hardly appear human and people would hide their faces from Him.2 In Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, he used the adjective leprosum to emphasize Christ’s defacement. Twelfth-century scholars took that literally, as a prophecy of Jesus’ affliction.
The New Testament never says that Christ had leprosy, but God used that bad translation for good. Medieval Christians looked past the ugly symptoms of leprosy and began treating its victims as they would treat Jesus. They remembered Christ’s promise, “Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.”3 These Christians ignored cultural stigmas and their own fears, trusting Christ to bless their service to unfortunate people.4
Jesus Is Still 100% God and 100% Human in Heaven
Let’s never forget, beloved, that God’s Son sits on heaven’s throne right now. And He still has real flesh and blood like us. He has a human heart, mind, and soul. He still weeps when we weep and rejoices when we rejoice. Christ doesn’t need sleep anymore. He stays awake 24 hours a day to care for all His loved ones. Our high priest is able to sympathize and empathize with our weaknesses. What a Friend we have in Jesus!
Let this truth of Christ’s 100% humanity, joined to His 100% divinity encourage us to run to Him in prayer. The disciples weren’t spared from storms and we aren’t either. The Lord never promises us unlimited riches and perfect health. He never promises jobs or marriages that last forever. He never promises to make everything fun and comfortable. So we must run to Jesus for help like the apostles do in Mark 4. When we feel that we’re drowning and perishing, let’s cry to Him earnestly!
Remember Christ not only sympathizes with us in His genuine humanity. He saves, helps, heals, and rescues us with His divine power. All He needs is to speak a word to acquit, avenge, or advise us. To direct, deliver, or defend us. To guide or guard us. To protect, provide for, or pardon us and our loved ones. Peterson’s hymn continues:
No one understands like Jesus
He’s a friend beyond compare
Meet Him at the throne of mercy
He is waiting for you there
To be continued
Notes (various Bible translations): 1 David C. McCasland, Our Daily Bread, “One of Us.” 2 Isaiah 52:14, 53:3. 3 Matt 25:40. 4 Philip Yancey, “The Holy Disease.”