WAS JESUS TRULY HUMAN?

by Lois Donahue

Of course He was – we know that. Even those who do not accept the fact that Jesus was the Son of God – the Messiah – are willing to admit that He was definitely human.

According to the Bible it would seem that even the devil thought of Him as human and thus having the human capability to sin, or why would he have even bothered tempting Him? We know, of course, that Jesus never succumbed to the devil’s temptation and I like to think that it was because the human Jesus turned to that same source of strength available to us and was thereby able to tell the devil to ‘get lost’. That use of free will by Jesus is just the kind of everyday “humanness” we can call to mind when we are tempted and let’s think about this – Jesus not only had to make decisions, as all of us do, but we know from reading His life, that He, again like us, had to deal with unpleasant realities — things like discomfort, anxiety and disappointment — to say nothing of emotional downers.

We need only recall His passion and death to know, being fully human, He might well have had a headache, a toothache or a backache. So, too, being a carpenter He probably hit His thumb with whatever tool was, in His time, comparable to our hammer, and consequently felt the painful result. We know He was humanly hungry and thirsty and tired – that He was frustrated with the apostles – angry with the money changers – thoughtful and compassionate – and on and on.

Now I am not in any way implying that our coping-with-life “batting average” will in any way match that of Jesus but isn’t it comforting to know that when we turn to Him He will always be there with, not only unconditional love, but with a “been there, felt that” compassionate understanding.

BUT DON’T EVER FORGET — both life and humanness are far from being all wounds and sorrow. In fact, hard as this may be to believe, my intention in writing today was to talk to you about two things very positive and up-beat which are part of life as a human — WIT and WISDOM — I chose them simply because I happened to discover, under layers of accumulated dust, several books with those words in their titles and my curiosity took it from there.

Before I share with you what I found in these books, let me say that although ‘wit’, on occasion , may have sharp edges and carry a no-joke message, it usually brings to mind ‘humor’ and that is my choice of definition for today because I truly believe such a loving God as ours who made us in His ‘image and likeness’ MUST have given each of us, to some degree at least, a sense of humor and, as someone once very observantly agreed – “if you don’t think God had a sense of humor, just look around”.

In relating this to our human Jesus, I also believe He had His full share of humorous ‘wit’. I am convinced that He grinned, chuckled and even out right laughed. Think about it. Do you really think that when Jesus went to the Cana wedding celebration that He sat there the whole time unsmiling and solemn? – or that the fully human Jesus who traveled with “the guys” for three years wouldn’t have, at the very least, grinned when someone may have jokingly given Peter a bad time about how funny he looked flailing and splashing around as he began to sink after his momentary lapse of faith cut short his walk on water? — or wouldn’t share in the joviality when one of His apostles reminded the others of some funny thing that happened on the way to —-”? To me Jesus just wouldn’t have seen and not accordingly reacted to something comical – to some harmless gag or nonsensical wisecrack.

Wisdom is different. It quite understandably changes the mood, – with its more serious definition – “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action”. In the Book of Proverbs we are told, “How much better to acquire wisdom than gold” (16:16) and “Happy the man who finds wisdom.” (13:13) The Bible tells us, too, that the human Jesus acquired such a treasure when we read in Luke 2:52 – “And Jesus increased in wisdom … “

Now back to a small sampling of the ‘wit and wisdom’ I found between book covers:

WIT & WISDOM OF FULTON J. SHEEN

“An atheist is a man who has found no invisible means of support.”
“There are three rules of dealing with all those who come to us 1) Kindness 2) Kindness 3) Kindness.”

WIT AND WISDOM OF ISRAEL

“Life is not a matter of extent – but of content”
“Do not threaten a child. Either punish or forgive him.”

WIT AND WISDOM OF GOOD POPE JOHN (Pope John XXlll)

“Don’t remain motionless like statues in a museum.”
“Listen to everything, forget much, correct little.”

WIT AND WISDOM OF THE TALMUD

“He who pardons his heart with pride softens his brain with the same.”
“Commit a sin twice , and you will think it perfectly allowable.”

CATHOLIC WIT AND WISDOM

“I can see how it might be possible to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot see how a man can look up into the heavens and say that there is no God.”
“Wisdom has nine parts of silence and one of brevity.”

While quotes like the above might lighten our spirits as well as burden our brains, to me they seem to say that God knew we would need both wit and wisdom in our lives. Through the words of the Bible it is clear that He wants us to continually and seriously seek the truth but He also reminds us in Eccl 3:4 that “.. there is a time to laugh…”