I don’t want my life to be forced or fake. The Lord has been teaching me so much about how I am supposed to live as a follower of Jesus. I say it’s “so much” but really, it’s just one thing over and over: that I can’t do it in my own strength. I’m not supposed to. Yet that is totally the opposite of how I’ve grown up. My whole life has been about toughing things out, dealing with pressures out of my own mental and physical capacities.
From the words I need at any given moment, to decisions that need to be made, to even simply riding in the car, I realize that I am filled with God’s Holy Spirit and that is the state I move forward in. But I confess, it’s so easy to slip back into my old way of doing things. Like silent snow flakes falling and hiding the ground underneath them, my old thoughts pile up on top of the simple truth that I have an alternate power source to rely on.
This is part of what Jesus meant when He said we could do far more on earth than He did.
In John 14:12, Jesus says this exactly: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
It’s not that Jesus expects us to perform miracles of healing and changing water into coke or even to simply convince people of His existence by our own ability. He is expecting that if you believe in Him, you too will be filled with God’s Spirit.
This leads me to another amazing concept that the Lord is helping me understand–Jesus was 100% human. Let me say it again in another way, Jesus Christ was God embodied in human form, but He was completely and utterly a man. He was no superman with a magical touch like a fairy or some kind of super hero. He gave up his “God card” so to speak. He could have done those miracle transactions on earth and put them on His “God card” but He didn’t.
This is what Paul begins to unveil for us in Philippians 2. 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!”
Maybe your mind is sharper than mine and you’re already thinking what I’m about to say…
If Jesus was simply a man, if He gave up His “God card” and was completely human, how did He perform those miracles?! (This is where I always get goosebumps.) Jesus Christ never dipped into His deity but instead relied on God’s Spirit, prayer, and the Word. “Jesus was man as God intended man to be.” (Ian Thomas) Jesus possessed all the qualities of humanness except sin and was able to have perfect communion with God. When Jesus asked the Father to change the water to wine, God did it. When Jesus prayed over the loaves and fish, God multiplied it to feed thousands. (If you want to learn more about this “hypostatic union” as the theologians call it, may I suggest this article by Dann Spader. I learned much about this concept from him and he offers many other resources at the end of the article.)
Let this settle in your mind for a moment. I hope I don’t offend you when I say Jesus was just a man. Obviously He wasn’t “just” anything, He changed the entire course of human history. But it’s worth saying it that way just to knock you off your balance for a moment.
Knowing this truth can shed a great deal of light on ourselves as human beings including a couple of specific conclusions:
1. The resources that Jesus used are still available to you and me.
2. Jesus is our perfect model for life! (Hopefully a more achievable model for you now.)
3. We underestimate what God wants to do through us.
Thank you for reading this far, if you made it this far.
Dr. Bruce Ware, Southern Seminary