Week Three: The Word Became Flesh

Week Three: The Word Became Flesh

 
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Sometimes I like to try and think about Jesus as a human. This is surprisingly difficult. Growing up, I had always seen Jesus depicted as a blonde, occasionally bearded, Caucasian fellow, usually dressed in pastel robes and surrounded by children or lambs. This always bothered me because I was pretty sure that Jesus wasn’t a white guy. When I went to college I learned that all cultures tend to depict Jesus as looking and dressing like them. Few depictions try to give an accurate representation of what a first-century Hebrew would have looked like. They usually try to make him amenable to a culture or try to convey some idea.

For me, trying to picture Jesus as a real person and not as an artifact of cultural iconography makes him feel more relatable. Some clues from the Bible, as well as information about common practices of the time, give us a picture. He likely had short hair (like me), was clean-shaven (like me), around five feet tall (like me), and had darker skin and hair (not like me, but three out of four isn’t bad). His appearance was average enough that authorities needed Judas to identify him. Thinking about him this way makes him less ethereal and reminds me that God really did become a human being, a human being physically and mentally just like me.

Matthew Hewes 

 
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Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day One: 

Although the human being we call Jesus was born two-thousand years ago, the person we call Jesus has always existed. Use these verses as a prayer to help you think about who the man Jesus was before he was born and who he is today. 

Colossians 1:15-19 — Lord Jesus, you are the image of the invisible God. You are the firstborn over all creation. In you all things were made. All things were created through you and for you. You are before all things, and you hold all things together. In everything you have the supremacy, and You are the head of the body, the church. You are the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything You might have the supremacy. And in you all the fullness of God dwells. Amen.

Ask yourself — What does it mean that I was created though the Son and for the Son? How does this impact how I live? What does it mean that Jesus holds all things together? What does that mean for my world, right now?

Prayer:  Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day Two:

Even though God is self-sufficient, He decided to create the world and each one of us. Everything about us God either purposefully designed or gave his assent to. We are not mass-produced on an assembly line, but carefully constructed so we can undergo what God wants us to. Understanding our importance to God can help us make sense of Jesus’ mission.

Psalms 8:3-6 — God, when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, who am I that you are mindful of me? You made me human, a little lower than the angels and crowned me with glory and honor. You placed me in charge of your work. Even today You include me in your plans. You tell me that you have set out works for me to accomplish. Help me to be as committed to You as You are to me, to include You in my plans as much as You have included me in yours. Amen.

Ask yourself — How does it make you feel to know that God, who needs nothing, created you and continues to engage with you? What does this say about your value? What does this say about how important all people are? Does this impact how you see and interact with others?

Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day Three:

Two thousand years ago, God was born into this world. Sometimes this story gets treated like a myth: we hear about it once a year and picture it in an idealized, pageant form. Yet Mary’s pregnancy was like any pregnancy, and Jesus’ birth was like any birth (except for, maybe, the bit about the manger).

Luke 2:1-7 — Lord Jesus, how can I understand what it was like for You to become something You were not? To take on the body and world of a creature? You were born in one of our empires, in one of our cities, to one of our women, in a place that did not even have enough room. Help me to understand the meaning of your actions and to live according to their implications. Amen.

Ask yourself — What would it be like to see Jesus as a baby? We usually encounter him as an exalted ruler. Could you see an infant and accept that he is God?

Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day Four: 

As part of his experience on earth, Jesus encountered the same natural physical limitations that we do. He felt sadness and anguish, hunger and thirst, exhaustion, and pain. Before his death He made it clear that He did not want to suffer and die. Use these verses to reflect on Jesus as a human like you.

John 4:6, 19:28, Matthew 4:2, Luke 22:4 — Jesus, help me to understand that You felt the same things I feel. That You were tired at Jacob’s well, that You were hungry in the wilderness, that You were thirsty when near death, that You felt distress before your arrest. Help me to understand that You went through what I go through. Amen.

Ask yourself — What does it mean for me that Jesus had to endure my natural physical limitations? How does this impact how I think about him? Does this change how I think about the times that I am sad or in pain?

Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day Five: 

Jesus’ experience was not limited to physical necessities. He also experienced temptation. When He was in the wilderness, He had the ability to satisfy his own desires and pursue his own glory. But He chose not to, instead opting to follow the Father’s plan over the devil’s.

Matthew 4:1-11 — Jesus, when you were tempted in the wilderness You did not sin. When given the opportunity to gratify your physical desires, You replied that we should prefer the Word that comes from God. When given the opportunity to test God, You again replied with the Word of God. When given the opportunity to act outside of God’s plan, You replied that we must only worship God. Help me to apply your example when I am tempted, to recognize what is happening and rely on God to help me overcome it. Amen.

Ask yourself — When, where, and how are you tempted? What does it mean to rely on God to help us overcome temptation? What does this look like in your life?

Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day Six:  

When the Son became Jesus, He brought about what seems to be a permanent change in himself. He was not human before, and the Bible does not give any indication that He has ceased to be human since. This means that the ruler of our universe, the One who is God, who is divine, is also one of us. Use these verses as a prayer to reflect on the implications of God becoming a human.

Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15 — Lord Jesus, You are like me, fully human in every way. You can empathize with my weaknesses; for in every way I am tempted, You were tempted. Yet You did not sin. Help me to strive to conform my will to God’s. Help me to remember to always rely on You. Amen.

Ask yourself — When God helps you to conform your will to his, will you accept it? Sometimes we enjoy our sins and are hesitant to let them go. Do you trust that what God wants for you is better than what you want for you?

Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.


Day Seven:

Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see You as You are, not as my culture has handed You to me. Help me to remember that You are human, as well as God, and that I can relate to You as I do other people I know.  Amen.

 
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Think about your devotional experience this past week. Has anything stood out? Has it changed how you think or feel about Jesus and his humanity? The Bible focuses on the most important parts of Jesus’s time on Earth, so we sometimes don’t think about the other 30 years he was here and all the mundane aspects of his life. Did Jesus have a favorite food? Did he ever laugh so hard that he had to rest his hands on his knees?  Sometimes it can be easy to worship something abstract and distant. How do you think you would have responded to Jesus if you had met him during his ministry?  

Catherine HortonComment