John 6:41-42 (NIV): At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
One of the greatest challenges that Jesus faced was His own humanity. To become the Savior, the Messiah, He had to be born as a human being. But this kind of human being was completely outside of anybody’s previous experience.
Jesus was not a reincarnation or rebirth of one of the great prophets of old. (Elijah and Jeremiah were favorite guesses – cf. Matthew 16:14.) He was Himself, not a mere rerun of someone else.
He was not an angel or a theophany or an avatar. He was a real, live human being. He got tired and hungry. He needed food, water, and rest. And He could be hurt, and even killed. Jesus was fully human, and at the same time, fully God. Even though He placed limits on Himself when He was incarnated into a human body, He still knew Who He was and where He had come from. He still had uninterrupted communion with the Father, and complete access to all of the power of the Godhead.
But the people could only see the man, Jesus. He could do miracles, sure, but He looked too human for them to take seriously His claim to have come down from heaven. Some of them had known Jesus since He was a child. They knew His father and mother. Their eyes were so full of what they could see of who Jesus was on the outside that their hearts were blind to who He was inside.
Jesus really was God in the flesh, the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, (Hebrews 1:3a NIV) but only those with eyes to see could accept Him for who He truly was.
It is the same today. In the quest for “the historic Jesus” (who really did live, and whose life and deeds were accurately captured in the gospels), many focus so much on the man that they fail to see or refuse to accept the FULL Jesus – the Son of God recognized by His closest followers, and vindicated by His resurrection from the dead. But a mere historical Jesus, the purely human side of Him, cannot save. Only the full Jesus, very God and very man at the same time, had the authority to be the Messiah and the power to save.
Father, even Paul recognized how his own experience of Jesus as a man seriously misled him: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16 NIV) Help me to present Jesus every day as He truly is – very God and very man, the Savior and Messiah – so that others can experience Him for themselves, and find the same salvation that I enjoy. Amen.