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First of all he was a member of a family, with a fairly common name - the Greek equivalent of Joshua. He had parents, brothers and sisters. he was the son of a carpenter. he made friends and enemies rather like we do. There were several other 'teachers' wandering around the area with their own particular message, whilst Jesus was travelling around with his disciples. Of course, his entry into the world was not quite what we've come to know and expect from biology lessons at school, but then this was no ordinary baby.
But what made him different from anyone else?
Q) SO WAS HE HUMAN OR SOMETHING ELSE - LIKE ET MAYBE?
A) Oh, he was human, there's no doubt about that. Christians talk of Jesus being 'fully human' and what they mean by that is that all that is good and whole and satisfying in human life.
What seems to have made Jesus stand out is the way he lived his life. His life was a model of selfless love and of the creative power of bringing hope, forgiveness and healing wherever he went. The witness of history is that people identify with Jesus and find in him all that which the gospels speak. People in their guilt find someone who forgives; people in their suffering find one who gives hope and healing; people in their struggle against oppression and evil find one who will stand with them in the firing line.
Jesus the human being is present in all human experience; sometimes in pain as the silent sufferer; sometimes in protest as the voice seeking redress for injustice; sometimes in joy as one who celebrates the excitement of life itself.
Q) BUT HE WASN'T JUST HUMAN, SURELY?
A) The early Church got itself into knots over this one. If Jesus was 'fully human' there couldn't be any room left for the divine bit, could there? And vice versa of course.
The early church came to the conclusion that Jesus was both 'fully human' and 'fully divine', which is not an easy concept to grasp.
It might help to think of it this way - that God revealed himself through the nature of Jesus. The love that Jesus showed, the power over life and death that Jesus demonstrated, the wisdom that Jesus revealed through his teaching, the unselfish self-giving love which he displayed throughout his ministry, these are the essential characteristics of God - revealed through the life of Jesus.
The great hymn writer Charles Wesley has it in a line that reads so wonderfully
'Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man'
Think of it another way - imagine a stained glass window, and the bright sunshine suddenly coming out from behind a cloud and making the characters in that window stand out so brightly. Jesus lets a unique light into this world, allowing us to see the character and will of God in a way that has never seen before or since. The writer to the Hebrews suggests this in chapter one where he writes 'in many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.'
In the past God revealed himself in a small way through the prophets, but now (as the song says) 'I can see clearly now……'
This is only a glimpse into the person of Jesus. inevitably there will be some who will say that I've missed out more than I've said. But what I hope is that what I have said makes sense enough for you to want to know more about this remarkable person, and more importantly what his life and his ministry mean to you.
Because there was a purpose to Jesus' life which could have a remarkable effect on your life.
So what did Jesus do?