Vintage Jesus #3 – How Human Was Jesus?

In this talk from Vintage Jesus, Pastor Mark discusses Jesus' humanity including emotions, a sense of humor, experiencing painful and normal parts of life, and more.



What did Jesus look like?

Isaiah 53:2 He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Despite no biblical or historical evidence, many attempts have been made to depict the appearance of Jesus Christ. He was a young healthy carpenter who worked with His hands and walked a lot. He was from the town of Nazareth, but many people mistake that with the Old Testament Nazirite vow of Samson to not get a haircut or drink alcohol (Numbers 6), when the New Testament says that long hair on a man was gender confusion (1 Corinthians 11:14).

            The Byzantines put a beard on Jesus as a symbol of power. The Victorians made Jesus blond. Out of the more than fifty mainstream films made about Jesus, he has never been played by an actor who is ethnically Jewish, which means those portrayals are also likely inaccurate. Illustrated Bibles soared from 16 percent to 59 percent of the market from 1810 to the 1870s with guesstimates about Jesus’ appearance. Perhaps the most famous picture of Jesus was made by Warner Sallman. His 1940 painting, Head of Christ, sold one hundred thousand copies in only two months in 1941 and went on to sell more than three million more copies in 1942.

More recently, Popular Mechanics had a search for the face of Jesus.

The History Channel’s two-hour documentary titled The Passion: Religion and the Movies explored the fascinating relationship between the divinity and humanity of Jesus and how that has played out in the cinema. The relationship between film and the church extends all the way back to Thomas Edison, who invented the first movie camera and tried to give its patent to his local church. They rejected it.

Essentially every film about Jesus done prior to the days of the radical 1960s emphasized the deity of Jesus. Seven of the first ten reel movies ever made were about Jesus and had the word “passion” in the title. The first feature-length movie of Jesus was made in 1912 and titled From the Manger to the Cross, or Jesus of Nazareth. That highly successful film was the first movie ever shot outside of a studio and was captured on location in Palestine and Egypt.

The legendary director and devout Christian Cecil B. DeMille literally transformed movie special effects with his 1923 film The Ten Commandments. In 1927, he also produced the life of Jesus in the movie King of Kings. In that film he was very careful to portray Jesus as very pious with little humanity; he even had a glowing aura around him, which made him appear like something of an icon on the screen.

What Does Incarnation Mean?

Matthew 1:23 (cf. Isaiah 7:14) “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

John 1:1-3, 14, 17-18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son… Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

  • Inncarnation (“in” plus “carne”) means “in flesh.”
  • The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) with over 100 theologians created the Chalcedonian Creed now accepted by all Christian traditions declared that Jesus Christ is one Person with two natures (divine and human) who is both fully God and fully man
  • Theologians call this the “hypostatic union” as hypostasis means “person”

What are the two common errors about Jesus?

1 John 4:2–3 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 God our Savior…desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…

Error #1 – Jesus is fully God but not fully man

  • Cults (e.g. Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon) liberal Christianity, Da Vinci Code, political and social causes using Jesus as an example or liberator, baby Jesus artwork,

Error #2 – Jesus is fully man but not fully God

  • Nearly all world religions outside of Christianity, New Age, Christian fundamentalism

How did God become a man?

Philippians 2:5-11 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

  • Identity not changed (God)
  • Role changed (humble servant)
  • Augustine -“Christ added to himself which he was not, he did not lose what he was”
  • Possessed divine attributes, used them rarely to benefit others not Himself
  • NOT man became God
  • Analogy – choosing to shoot an arrow blindfolded

Did Jesus fully experience the normal parts of life?

Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

  1. Born of a woman
  2. Had a normal body of flesh and bones
  3. Grew up as a boy
  4. Had a family with brothers and sisters
  5. Obeyed his parents
  6. Worshiped God and prayed
  7. Worked as a carpenter
  8. Paid taxes
  9. Got hungry and thirsty
  10. Asked for information
  11. Had male and female friends he loved
  12. Gave encouraging compliments
  13. Loved children
  14. Celebrated holidays
  15. Went to parties
  16. Loved his mom

Did Jesus fully experience the painful parts of life?

Hebrews 2:10 it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Hebrews 2:17–18 He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 5:7-10 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest…

  1. Financial problems – poor, stolen from
  2. Satanic problems – attacked, tempted
  3. PR problems – slander including of His mom
  4. Legal problems – arrested, convicted
  5. Relational problems – denied, abandoned, betrayed
  6. Emotional problems – “man of sorrows” in Isaiah, no wife or kids to enjoy or comfort Him
  7. Physical problems – weary, nap, hungry, thirsty, needy crowds, beaten, killed
  • Jesus is NOT like Clark Kent

Does Jesus have the full range of human emotions?

  • The Church of England’s 39 Articles and Westminster Confession of faith say God is “without body, parts, or passions.”
  • William Barclay says of the New Testament:

To the Greek the primary characteristic of God was what he called apatheia [apathy], which means total inability to feel any emotion whatsoever…If we can feel sorrow or joy, gladness or grief, it means that someone can have an effect upon us. Now, if a person has an effect upon us, it means that for the moment that person has power over us. No one can have any power over God; and this must mean that God is essentially incapable of feeling any emotion whatsoever. The Greeks believed in an isolated, passionless and compassionless God.

  • Tried to preserve God’s immutability – unchanging
  • If God is not emotional the He is not relational which explains so much non-emotional and non-relational Christians
  • 60 times in the gospels Jesus’ emotions are noted (Jesus is not Spock)
  1. Jesus teaching appeals to our emotions (parables)
  2. Jesus wants us to love God with all our hearts
  3. Jesus emotions increase toward His cross

Jesus’ Emotions in Matthew

8:10—“marveled” (esv, nasb, nkjv), “amazed” (niv, hcsb, nlt)

9:30—“sternly warned”

9:36, 14:14, 15:32—“compassion”

20:34—“pity” (esv), “compassion” (hcsb, nasb, nkjv, niv), “felt sorry for them” (nlt)

26:37–38—“sorrowful and troubled”; “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”

27:46—“Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying . . . ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Jesus’ Emotions in Mark

1:41—“pity” (esv), “compassion” (hcsb, nasb, nkjv, nlt), “indignant” (niv)

3:5—“anger, grieved” (esv, nasb, nkjv), “anger and sorrow” (hcsb), “anger and, deeply distressed” (niv) or “angrily . . . deeply saddened” (nlt)

6:6—“marveled” (esv, nkjv), “amazed” (hcsb, niv, nlt), “wondered” (nasb)

6:34, 8:2, 9:22—“compassion”

7:34—“He sighed” (esv, nlt, nkjv); “He sighed deeply” (hcsb); “deep sigh” (nasb, niv).

8:12—“sighed deeply in his spirit”

10:21—“loved” (esv), “felt a love” (nasb), “with love” (niv), “genuine love” (nlt)

14:33–34—“greatly distressed and troubled . . . ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.’”

15:34—“Jesus cried with a loud voice . . . ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Jesus’ Emotions in Luke

7:9—“marveled” (esv, nasb, nkjv), “amazed” (hcsb, niv, nlt)

7:13—“compassion” (esv, nkjv, hcsb, nasb), “his heart went out to her” (niv), “his heart over owed with compassion” (nlt)

10:21—“rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (esv), “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (niv), “ lled with the joy of the Holy Spirit,” (nlt)

12:50—“Great is my distress” (esv); “what constraint I am under” (niv); “how distressed I am” (nkjv); “I am under a heavy burden” (nlt).

19:41—“He wept.”

22:44—“in agony” (esv, nasb, nkjv), “in anguish” (hcsb, niv), “in such agony of spirit” (nlt)

Jesus’ Emotions in John

2:17—“zeal” (esv, hcsb, nasb, niv, nkjv), “passion” (nlt)

11:3, 5—“love . . . loved”

11:15—“I am glad.”

11:33—“deeply moved in his spirit and greatly trou- bled” (esv), “angry in His spirit and deeply moved” (hcsb), “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (nkjv), “a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled” (nlt)

11:38—“deeply moved again” (esv), “angry in Himself again” (hcsb), “deeply moved within” (nasb), “again groaning in Himself” (nkjv)

12:27—“Now is my soul troubled.”

13:1—“He loved.”

13:21—“troubled in his spirit” (esv), “deeply troubled” (nlt)

13:34—“I have loved you.”

14:21—“I will love him.”

15:9–12—“I loved you…my joy…I have loved you.”

Does Jesus have a sense of humor?

Nehemiah 8:10 “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 “there is…a time to laugh”

GK Chesterton “There was one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon the earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”

Nietzsche “Would that he [Jesus] had remained in the wilderness and far from the good and just! Perhaps he would have learned to live and love the earth-and laughter too.”

  • Joy appears over 200 times in the Bible, laugh/laughter appears over 40 times
  • 17,000 Jesus books Library of Congress, hardly any on Jesus humor

·        Elton Trueblood The Humor of Christ – 30 Gospel Passages

-“there are numerous passages . . . which are practically incomprehensible when regarded as sober prose, but which are luminous once we become liberated from the gratuitous assumption that Christ never joked. . . . Once we realize that Christ was not always engaged in pious talk, we have made an enormous step on the road to understanding.”

-“Christ laughed, and . . . He expected others to laugh . . . A misguided piety has made us fear that acceptance of His obvious wit and humor would somehow be mildly blasphemous or sacrilegious. Religion, we think, is serious business, and serious business is incompatible with banter.”

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery – “If there is a single person within the pages of the Bible that we can consider to be a humorist, it is without a doubt Jesus…Jesus was a master of wordplay, irony, and satire, often with an element of humor intermixed”

  1. Plank & speck – Matthew 7:3
  2. Camel & needle – Matthew 19:24
  3. Peter – Rocky & Satan – Matthew 16:13-20
  4. Jesus made fun of religious praying (Matthew 6:6), fasting (Matthew 6:16), tithing (Matthew 23:23), leadership (Matthew 15:14), silly rules (Matthew 15:10-14), so that they were offended by Him (Matthew 15:12), and said we would be blessed if we took Him seriously but not ourselves so we would not be offended (Matthew 11:6)
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Mark Driscoll

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