Jesus: Human Like Us??

I clearly remember, many years ago, first seeing this image of Jesus on the cover of a Liguorian magazine. I was so taken by that image that I saved it […]

I clearly remember, many years ago, first seeing this image of Jesus on the cover of a Liguorian magazine. I was so taken by that image that I saved it for a long time, but somewhere along the line, it was lost! (Recently searching for this image online, I finally found that it was on the April 1987 issue!) In the early 1990’s I looked for this print, wanting to purchase it for my home, but I could not find it. Eventually, I did find a less detailed version that I framed for the wall next to our bed.

A couple of years later we hosted my Clinic’s Christmas party at our home. We had all of the guests take their coats up to the master bedroom. We heard later that a woman who attended had noticed the “laughing Jesus” print and was appalled by it, feeling it was vulgar and disrespectful. I was shocked by this, because looking at it made me feel the pure joy that Jesus surely felt at times. After all, he was human, like us!

I’ve always loved the movies “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar” for this very reason. They portrayed Jesus as a human being, one who laughed and danced with his friends and who made sure his friends’ joyful wedding celebration had enough wine. One who wept in sorrow at the death of his friend, Lazarus, and anguished over the suffering of the people. And maybe, even one who fell in love! Jesus, who spoke out in anger when he saw the religious hierarchy creating unjust laws that burdened, rather than lifted up, the people. Jesus, who often ‘went to the desert’ for silence when confused, or uncertain, or even in despair, about his life’s direction, and who meditated, fasted, and pleaded for answers. Jesus, who intimately observed and connected with the beauty of nature, and who frequently shared those insights in his teachings. Jesus, who loved, who was compassionate, who felt sadness and fear, but who also laughed, danced, and rejoiced. Jesus recognized that the Ground of All Being permeated everything in every single moment and encouraged all of his followers to ‘see with new eyes.’

To believe that Jesus did not experience the full range of human emotions during his life is to believe in an unrealistically perfect Jesus. This belief makes it much more difficult for us to really connect with him as our teacher, brother, and friend. If, when we experience joy, excitement, laughter, love, sadness, grief, despair, anger, frustration, failure, etc., we remember that Jesus experienced all of those emotions too, then we can rejoice! Indeed, we have a very special companion who fully understands and cares, and who is in solidarity with us, always, no matter what we are experiencing or going through. If we truly believe that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, then we also acknowledge that, since God is in everyone and everything, we also share that with Jesus! What a gift!

-Rita Simon

Artwork is “Christ the Liberator” by Willis Wheatley, 1973. Used with permission.

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