Christian educator, former librarian, and mother of three, Claire Abraham proclaims the Word of the Lord in gratitude and love.
Picture of Jesus by Heinrich Hoffman
How can Jesus be both God and Man?
A little more than 2000 years ago, in the small town of Bethlehem, a Jewish teenager named Mary gave birth in a barn, because all the inns were full. It's not a very glamorous story. We'd be horrified if it happened to one of our neighborhood kids. There was no crib, so they had to clean out one of the troughs used for feeding cattle. Yuck! Seriously, could NOBODY give these people a spare bed?
And yet, it was the greatest miracle in the history of the world.
Fortunately, Mary was not alone. She had her husband, Joseph, with her. However, Joseph was not the father. He was Jesus' earthly guardian, and great help to Mary, but God Himself had to talk Joseph into going along with this very unusual setup.
Mary had never had relations with any man. That was important. Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. That's why he was God. However, he had an earthly mother. That's what made him human.
Jesus has an earthly family
Here they are all together, just a few months after Bethlehem. Joseph, who appears to be much older than his wife, is watching over both her and Jesus very carefully. He knows he's been given the most important job in the history of stepfatherhood!
And Mary? How must she be feeling to have such a big responsibility?
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – Luke 2:19
An ordinary family
In many ways, Jesus was raised just like any other little boy in Israel at that time. When he was eight days old, he had to be circumcised, and when the time of purification came, they brought him to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Joseph, who was a carpenter, even taught Jesus his craft!
Jesus even had brothers. Here is the whole family together. The young man to his left is John the Baptist.
Jesus at the age of twelve
However, Jesus never forgot that He was truly the Son of God. At the age of twelve, he did something that really upset Mary and Joseph. He ran away to learn more about the Law so He could start His ministry. When they came to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices, He slipped away to Temple and sat chatting with the High Priests! Mary was furious! "We've been looking everywhere for you!"
Sounds just like every other mom.
"But MO-AM! I've got to be about my Father's business!"
Sounds like every other teenager.
They packed Him up, and they marched Him home. The Gospel of Luke says
"51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them."
I'm going to guess He never tried THAT stunt again!
Jesus Grows Up
And yet, He knew. He always knew, and so did everybody in His family. He probably used those carpentry skills some, because scholars say Jesus did not start His ministry until He was 30, and He only taught for three years. But John the Baptist, who was Jesus' cousin, went before Him, exclaiming that the Kingdom of God was at hand.
“After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to bend down and untie the straps of His sandals."
John the Baptist was called this because he baptized his followers in the River Jordan to cleanse them of their sins. He was shocked and astounded when Jesus came to him to be baptized. "You want ME to baptize YOU???!! Shouldn't it be the other way around?!"
Jesus just smiled, and said, "Let it be this way for now. We must all do what the Lord commands."
Even then, He was complying with God's rules for ordinary humans, because He was human. But as He came up out of the water, God showed John, and all those to come, who Jesus was really was. There was a great sign.
Baptism of Jesus
This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased
The dove that appeared was the Holy Spirit, and it ushered in the beginning of Jesus' ministry as a preacher. There was also a heavenly voice. "This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased."
In the act of following God's law for humans, Jesus was also revealed as God's Son, and by extension, God Himself, for the spirit of God rested in the man called Jesus.
When we talk about the Trinity, this is what we mean. Jesus is a human, but He was conceived by the creative force that is God the Father, and He was filled with the divine presence that is God the Holy Spirit.