Jesus of Nazareth: What It Means to Be Human

David Bast

Read: Hebrews 2:5-18

. . . made like his brothers in every respect. (v. 17)

The ancient world was full of stories about the gods coming down to earth and taking on a human disguise. They would adopt a body briefly, as actors might put on a costume to play a role, usually to take advantage of some unsuspecting mortal. But Jesus wasn’t like these mythological gods. His body was no disguise. No one ever came up to Jesus and said, “Say, you aren’t really human, are you?” He appeared to be one of us because he was one of us. He was like us in every way, says Hebrews, except for sin (see 4:15).

Jesus was not only a real human being, he was the human being. He was, as Martin Luther called him, der rechte Mann, “the proper Man.” After a wonderful dinner you might push back your chair, heave a satisfied sigh, and exclaim, “Now, that was a proper meal!” What you mean is that it was ideal, dinner as dinner was meant to be, the sort of meal all meals would be like in a perfect world. That is just the kind of person Jesus was. Jesus is humanity’s ideal. Jesus doesn’t just show us what God is like; he shows us what we would be like, if we were perfect.

Jesus of Nazareth: the proper man. His was the life among all human lives we acknowledge as supreme. He is the model of what it means to be human.—David Bast

Prayer: Lord, I want to be like Jesus.