By Jamin Roller
Superman has always been my favorite superhero. As a kid, I would argue with my friends (now, as an adult, I argue with my kids) that Superman would win in a fight against any villain or superhero. He is overwhelmingly powerful and nearly invincible. As Clark Kent, he looks like a regular guy, but he is not human; he is superhuman.
I grew up in a Christian home and heard from an early age that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. The Word of God teaches, and the Church has held for thousands of years, the full deity and humanity of Jesus. However, I often think of Jesus being human in the way Superman is Clark Kent. There are things about Him that look human, but we all “know” He is really God underneath the humanity. It’s as if He was 40% human and 60% God because that feels more honoring of Him.
The problem with that thinking is the Bible says otherwise, especially the passages we just read. The humanity of Jesus is evident throughout the narratives in both Matthew and Luke.
From His birth, Jesus had enemies hunting Him—enemies from which he was too young to protect Himself. He was completely dependent on Mary and Joseph, and they were the ones to act and move to another country to keep Him alive. Jesus knows what it’s like to be vulnerable.
Luke tells us Jesus took annual trips with His whole family to the temple. On one of those trips, His obedience to God seemed to cause trouble for His parents. He explained that He was faithful to what God was asking of Him, and they still did not really understand. Jesus knows what it’s like to be misunderstood.
Twice Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40,52). Today’s reading tells us Jesus grew physically and mentally. He had growing pains as His limbs stretched. He got taller and older. He discovered truths in God’s Word and learned about life. He grew in wisdom. Jesus knows what it is like to change and grow.
Jesus is 100% God and 100% human. He is not the hero that appears to be like us; He is the Savior who knows what it’s like to be us (John 1:14). That makes Him uniquely able to sympathize with the broad range of human experiences. This invites us to respond to Him in worship and gratitude. He voluntarily took on humanity, including all the vulnerability, misunderstanding, and growth that come with it. In love, He chose to become like us so that we might be fully redeemed. Thank you, Jesus.