Really Just Human
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
- Luke 1:34-35
“Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary”
- from The Apostles’ Creed
Here are two questions for this morning:
1) Was Jesus really human?
2) Was Jesus just human?
Some want to turn Jesus into an angelic being, to raise him to be Superman. There’s a part of us as humans who have always loved larger-than-life superheroes. And others talk about Jesus as if he’s just another teacher, just another leader, and just another messianic figure. But the Creed leads us in a different direction.
In response to the question “Was Jesus just human?” the Creed points us to his miraculous, divine origin. Only Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Our entire cosmos was held captive to sin. None of us could free ourselves. We needed help from outside this closed-in system that was trapped in sin and brokenness. And here comes Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit. God himself breaks into our world in a new way. He didn’t send someone else to do his dirty work, but got personally involved.
And in answer to the other question “Was Jesus really human?” the Creed shattered the traditions of the day. Stories of deities with spectacular origin stories filled the ancient world. But the Christian Gospels tell a deeply human story from start to finish.
Jesus was born to a specific woman in a specific town. He grew up, learned a trade, taught and wept and got weary. His story is not stoic enough for the Stoics and is way too moralistic for the “Eat, Drink and Be merry” Crowd. Everyone, even the Jews, found him to be category-breaking.
Which of these truths do you have a harder time connecting with: that Jesus is really human or that Jesus is not just another human?