30 days with the Human One (13)

 

We seen it in the news ever so often. Someone has lost their way while climbing a mountain, hiking through the woods, sailing across an ocean, or traveling through a desert. A massive search and rescue effort is launched. Days pass. Frantic friends and loved ones hold vigils as they hold their breath, anxious to hear good news as lives hang in the balance.

Sometimes the good news comes; sometimes it never does. We’ve seen the tearful reunions and we’ve seen the devastation of hopelessness. Whose heart doesn’t go out to people in such a situation?

So why exactly did “the Human One” come to this world? The Gospels record a number of “purpose statements” of Jesus, but perhaps none are as concise, nor commands our attention so, as the statement the Human One makes just before he enters Jerusalem, headed for the cross.

The Human One came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10 CEB)

With that in mind, quietly, thoughtfully consider for a moment:

  • what sort of foolishness you’ve been involved in to lose your way.
  • what the Human One left behind to look for you.
  • what sort of love drove the Human One to look for you.
  • what it cost the Human One to find you and save you.

We need to pray.

Jesus, never give up in your quest for me. Find me. Save me. Bring me home to you, I pray. Amen.

30 days with the Human One (11)

 

Peter was the first person to put two and two together and make the candid assessment and statement that Jesus was both “the Human One” and “the Christ” (the Messiah). His declaration is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 16:13-19; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21). After his statement, everything in the Gospel accounts begins to change.

How so? The answer is painful.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. (Matthew 16:21 CEB)

Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” He said this plainly. (Mark 8:31-32a CEB)

He said, “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” (Luke 9:22 CEB)

The Human One – the one who was just like us, but who had been doing things impossible for us – giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, forgiving sins, etc. – now reveals that he will soon do the unthinkable. He will do what all of us humans do: he will die.

Peter, the same who was first to identify the Human One as also the Christ, is now the first to object to the Christ being human! The Human One simply can’t die! But Peter could not be more wrong. Matthew and Mark record their clash with these words:

Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Matthew 16:22-23 CEB)

… But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Mark 8:32-33 CEB)

Pay particular attention to the last sentence in both of those accounts and you’ll come away with something like the following. (1) The Human One was thinking God’s thoughts. (2) The Human One desires the rest of us humans to do the same. (3) The worst thing we can do as humans is to think merely human thoughts.

Read that last sentence again and let that soak in.

“So how exactly are we humans supposed think beyond our merely human thoughts, Human One?,” we ask?

By ceasing to live for ourself and to begin living after the Human One by putting our whole being under his rule. By replicating the Human One’s way of living as much as is possible for us to do so. Or in the words that immediately follow in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28 CEB)

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 CEB)

Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them. What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see God’s kingdom.” (Luke 9:23-27 CEB)

We need to pray.

In the name of Jesus, Heavenly Father, I want to die to myself and live to you. May none of my ways shame you. Let me unashamedly proclaim you with my thoughts, my words, and my ways. Amen.

Question: in what do you find yourself most often settling for thinking human thoughts, rather than thinking the Human One’s thoughts?

30 days with the Human One (10)

 

Who do you believe the Human One to be? Who, indeed.

Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?” (Matthew 16:13 CEB)

The disciples’ answer is interesting, primarily because it reveals in some ways how little has changed over the course of two millennium.

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” (Matthew 16:14 CEB)

Now while I’ve never heard anyone today claim that Jesus was actually just one of the great prophets from Israel’s past, I’ve heard many people claim may times that Jesus was simply a great teacher or one of those rare, inexplicable charismatic figures that dot human history. Folks who think this way don’t see the Human One as anyone substantially different from other humans past. Disciples, however, see things very differently.

He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16 CEB)

To those who believe, Jesus isn’t an instant replay or modern adaptation of someone gone before, but s the walking, talking fulfillment of the promise of someone, altogether fresh and new. He’s not one who merely speaks of bringing God’s ways into our life, but is God himself bringing us to himself who is life. He’s not merely a prophet, but is the fulfillment of the prophecies.

Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17-19 CEB)

People who see the Human One for who he truly is are the truly happy people in this life. They see his church not as a place to go to reinforce good moral values in their children, but as the Human One’s own community of people in this world. They see their life not as something tossed about by chaotic winds that make no sense or as something determined by the dark things in this world, but see instead their life moving forward with God, sailing into the wind, as it were. They see their life not as something far removed from heaven and the God who may or may not be there, but as being in constant, intimate contact with the God who is there, and here.

For you see, the way you see the Human One makes all the difference in the world as to how you see everything in this world.

God of heaven and earth, I do believe. In the name of Jesus, help me overcome my unbelief. Amen.

Question: who do you believe the Human One to be?

30 days with the Human One (8)

 

Is Jesus just a bit too “common” for you? Is the truly Human One too human for your taste?

Don’t answer too quickly.

Jesus once said:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved to be right by her works. (Matthew 11:18-19 CEB)

Jesus refers to himself as “the Human One” and with whom, we might ask, did he spend his humanity? Apparently he spent enough time with “tax collectors and sinners” that such got noticed and got tagged for it. Understand who we’re talking about Jesus hanging with here. The despised of society. The cultural outcasts. The misfits and square pegs.

I’ve been a Christian now since my teen years. Thirty-six years this coming February to be exact. What that means is that the overwhelming majority of my connections in life are with fellow long-time Christians. I have to go out of my way, far from my comfort zone, to spend any significant time with “tax collectors and sinners.”

Do I? Do you?

News flash: the Human One still hangs with the “tax collectors and sinners” today. And if I want to spend time with the Human One, I simply must spend some time with the “tax collectors and sinners.”

Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus may your common love for all, uncommonly good, flow freely through me to others. All others, I pray. Amen.

30 days with the Human One (6)

What might we learn about Jesus if we zoomed in examined the instances in which he used the phrase “the Human One” to describe himself? Mark’s Gospel is likely the earliest Gospel written and Jesus is recorded as using the phrase “the Human One” thirteen times in Mark (2:10,28; 8:31,38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21,41,62). When we look at all of those instances, they fall into three categories.

First, on two occasions when Jesus refers to himself as “the Human One” his great authority – deity really – is highlighted. Who can forgive sins? God alone. Who is Lord of their own decrees? God alone. And in Mark’s Gospel, who do you suppose is depicted as doing both of these things. Jesus, “the Human One.”

“… know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins … (Mark 2:10 CEB)

“… the Human One is Lord even over the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28 CEB)

Second, on three occasions Jesus, “the Human One,” is depicted as having tremendous position and power – God-like position and power – at the end of things as they are now.

“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38 CEB)

” The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then they will see the Human One coming in the clouds with great power and splendor.” (Mark 13:25-26 CEB)

“… the high priest asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Human One sitting on the right side of the Almighty and coming on the heavenly clouds.”” (Mark 14:61-62 CEB)

Third, the remaining instances of Jesus’ use of the phrase “the Human One” in Mark’s Gospel underscore his selfless, serving, suffering, and self-sacrificing way of living and dying.

Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” (Mark 8:31 CEB)

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Human One had risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9 CEB)

Why was it written that the Human One would suffer many things and be rejected? (Mark 9:12 CEB)

This was because he was teaching his disciples, “the Human One will be delivered into human hands. They will kill him. Three days after he is killed he will rise up.” (Mark 9:31 CEB)

“Look!” he said. We’re going up to Jerusalem. The Human One will be handed over to the chief priests and the legal experts. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles. (Mark 10:33 CEB)

… for the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people. (Mark 10:45 CEB)

The Human One goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One! It would have been better for him if he had never been born. (Mark 14:21 CEB)

He came a third time and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? That’s enough! The time has come for the Human One to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (Mark 14:41 CEB)

What can we learn from all of this? We learn that when Jesus uses the phrase “the Human One” to describe himself he does so with a simultaneous awareness of (1) his preeminence in the scheme of things and (2) his deliberate lowering of himself to suffer and die. Or to put it another way, though “the Human One” is the one who brings supreme justice, he is the one who suffers the gravest injustice of all.

Wow.

Let’s pray, and in doing so today, let’s sing our prayer of praise to “the Human One!”

“You came from heaven to earth, to show the way.
From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay.
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky.
Lord I lift your name on high. Lord I lift your name on high.”

Question: in what sort of scenarios can you imagine yourself laying down your life for those who would not even appreciate your sacrifice?