The Human and the Divine: Holding Paradox Sacred
The Humanity of Jesus
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. (Luke 2:52)
For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time. (I Timothy 2:5-6)
For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:16-17)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus began to weep. (John 11:35)
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
In the following quote Jesus does not say explicitly “I am human.” He makes clear that he sees himself distinct from God.
A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (Luke 18:18-19)
The Divinity of Jesus
Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)
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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:1-4)
In worship, study, and spiritual practice we are confronted by the human nature of Jesus and the divine nature of Jesus. The disciples and the people around Jesus were touched by his human presence and at the same time astonished by his power and radiance. They encountered him in daily life as human, then through the power of his resurrection, and over time as the risen Christ. Mystics such as St. John of the Cross, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich have encountered Christ through visions, suffering, and ecstatic experiences. Prayer and contemplation, a deep spiritual practice, and mindfulness of the presence of Christ have helped them understand these experiences and integrate them into their understanding of God. What aspects of the human nature of Jesus draw us closer to God? How do we experience the divine presence in Jesus? Can we experience and understand the human and divine as part of the oneness of God? Can our own experiences of prayer, meditation, or contemplation be understood better through the human life of Jesus? Or do we connect to God better through the divine as it is expressed in Christ? Both aspects of the human and divine are always present.
Infinitely perfect and blessed God, you have created us out of your own substance and being. The most intimate parts of our being are connected to the most intimate life and love arising out of your being. Help us to understand our humanity, help us to understand our experience of this material world, and help us understand the ways in which your spiritual essence nourishes us and moves us toward union with you. You have been revealed to us in Jesus Christ whose oneness with you speaks to us from eternity. The presence of Jesus in this world inspires in us a personal response to your intimacy and presence with us. We seek to understand and embody the wisdom found in both the human and divine nature of Christ. Help us to hold this mystery and revere the holiness of your power and revelation. When we are incapable of understanding, help our faith guide us. For the wonder of creation and the blessing of life, we give thanks to you, God. Amen.
From The Readings
2011-65 The difference that Jeffrey speaks about, the Jesus that is human, Jesus that is divine, is not something that is easy for most human beings to accept. This is the same difficulty that the disciples had because Jesus was very human in their midst, and yet, the miracles that they encountered, even for them, were hard to accept. So you could say, for some people the most difficult thing to accept is the humanity of Jesus, and for others, the most difficult thing to accept is his divinity. The most common error for people when they think of Jesus or the Bible or the Church is to objectify Jesus, the Bible, or the Church. In the Torah, the understanding of this was the graven image, and is the reason for the commandment to make no graven images of God. Once God has been objectified, then the graven image of God can be controlled. And though it is true that people fear the human side of Jesus because it reveals to them their own personal responsibility, this problem has to be encountered at the same time that the graven images, the objectified forms of God, are broken and destroyed.
2013-24 For those people you work with who are Christian, who identify with being Christian, it is helpful to speak to them in the context of both the human and the divine aspects of Jesus. By looking at the divine, part of what needs to be recovered is the symbolic and archetypal nature of the Christ. For this corresponds to the soul and the higher self within every human being. In this sense, the framework of Christianity is universal. But those who are Christian, while identifying this and resonating with this, must also learn that this archetypal symbol will have a different name and a different representation in a different culture. Though not quite the same, an Eastern representation would be the Buddha. Those people who have looked at these symbols and placed them outside of themselves, by labeling churches or the Bible, or Jesus as God or representing God, have transferred this inner symbol to the external object. This will always be a roadblock to their discovering their true identities. This change of understanding is the gateway to all of the other means of growth and discovery for the soul—whether it be through writing, through dreams, through art—this relationship of the divine and the higher self to be discovered within the human being and the relationship of the consciousness of the person to this inner state is the key to the unfolding of the purpose of each person. This is where meditation, spiritual guidance and direction, and all the ways that Jeffrey and Stelli work with people, this is the location of all these phenomena in the human being. This is where you work. This is where what you have learned and how you apply what you have learned reside in the being. It is in this seat of the being where self-esteem, power, and will can function. And when self-esteem and the power and the will only function in the intellect, that is where a materialistic orientation functions. And because a material world is so visible to the material eye, it can take the person away from the interior being and the connection to the higher power found in God. It is in the distortions of the intellect and the mind that all material paths become manifest; this is where human beings become fascinated by their own creative potential and their own power. But this power eventually turns on itself, and when it finds itself, it finds emptiness. And in effect, a person feels or experiences a psychological shattering or disintegration.