Jesus the Man - Jon Fryer

Tonight we are talking about Jesus the man. That is, for the most part at least, we are going to ignore the fact that he is God, and think
about him solely as a human being. And that’s good. ‘Cos many people do not believe that Jesus is God, and that’s a matter of belief, but its much harder to deny that Jesus the human being ever existed.

It is true to say that no direct evidence survives from Jesus life on earth – he wrote no books, and no papers exist that mention him from within his own lifetime. But records do exist from within 100 years after his life, and some possibly as early as within ten years after his death.
Historians writing about the Roman Empire mention the effects of his life, and copies of papers that were around at the time mention that a man called the Christ was loved by the people, hated by the government, and was ultimately executed. That would be good enough evidence for a historian to say with reasonable certainty that the man named Jesus, called the Christ, actually existed. In fact, that’s only the same level of certainty that we have that Julius Ceasar ever existed, and no one seriously believes that he never existed, even if they don’t trust everything that was said about him.

So Jesus was a real person, who lived in Israel 2000 years ago. That in itself tells us some things about him. Firstly, he almost certainly didn’t look like he does in 2000 years of pictures – instead he would have had dark olive skin, curly black or brown hair, a beard, and probably a prominent nose and cheekbones, cos that’s what people looked like there back then.

Forensic JesusThis picture is what scientists think Jesus would have looked like, based on forensic archaeology, so not the image we are used to, and probably not what we would call attractive. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus wasn’t particularly good looking even by the standards of the time, and that there was nothing special about his appearance to draw people to him. And yet we know that people flocked to him in their thousands to hear him, and men gave up their families and jobs to follow him, so there must have been something else about him…

From what we know about him, Jesus simply seems to have been fantastically charismatic. Just think of everything that your local politician probably isn’t. He was funny and shocking, in the way that the best comedians are – his stories were outrageous and thought provoking. When we read them in the Bible we come at them with 2000 years of censorship, boredom, and familiarity. We’ve tamed them. Back then people travelled for miles to hear them, because he was shocking and dangerous. Like the best rebels, Jesus was honest and blunt about the failings of society, and the poor loved him for it and the rich hated him. As far he was can tell, he was smart, witty, clever and funny, even if he wasn’t good looking.

And he wasn’t the meek and mild sap that you see in some of the movies – before he was a teacher he was a carpenter for 20 years, and
that’s heavy labour, so he was probably reasonably well built. Nor was he the emotionless weirdo that you sometimes see in books or movies. Jesus was emotional and emotive, a real person like you and me. He got angry, particularly when people were bullied or not treated fairly – at one point he even made a whip out of a lump of old rope and threw the rich merchants out of the court of the temple that had traditionally been the place for the poor and the crippled and the refugees but had been taken over by the shopkeepers in their quest to make money. So he got angry, and he laughed and cried, he partied and rested, and he absolutely loved nothing more than hanging out with his friends.  In other words, he was just like us.

So why is that important?

Well firstly it gives us a place to start from. You may not believe that Jesus was God in human form, but that doesn’t stop you from at least considering whether his teaching has anything to say. Lots of people who don’t believe in God believe that Jesus was a great teacher and a wise and moral man. Frankly, if everyone just followed his teaching on how to look after each other then the world would be a far better place even if no one ever believed in him as God.

But the fact that Jesus was a human being as well as God means much more than that to those of us who believe.

For those of us who do believe it gives us a way to relate God. We’ve talked over the past few weeks about how God is great and powerful and
loving and just and all those other things, but that makes him kind of distant. What Jesus proves, to those of us who believe, is that God himself became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood. That he became like us so that we can talk at the same level. We couldn’t be like him, so he became like us. We can understand him better, because we know he understands us. He lived and laughed and cried, and hurt, and mourned, and danced, and partied, and suffered and died just as we do – we have common ground.

Of course, that common ground shows up just how much we screw up, because God experienced everything we do, and yet still did not behave wickedly. He suffered immense provocation and abuse, and yet did not defend himself. He was tempted in every way we are and yet did not give in. And so, for those of us who believe, it is made perfectly clear that when the time comes for God to judge what we have done with our lives then it will be fair, because Jesus experienced everything we did, lived a human life as we do, and yet did not balls it up.

But even that gives us hope. The Bible tells us that Jesus the man is now sitting with God at his right hand. That when we pray, he is there talking to God on our behalf, a human being just like us. Jesus gives us hope that we can have that relationship with our creator too. Because where one man has gone, others can go. People used to think that it was impossible to swim the British Channel, that it was too far, until someone went and did it. People used to think it was impossible to run a mile in under four minutes cos no one had ever done it, until Roger Bannister did it, and now it’s the standard that all middle distance runners aspire to. The Jews of Jesus day used to say that no one can draw near to God without being destroyed by their sin, but then Jesus went and did it. And so now the invitation is for us to draw near to God too – because where one man has gone, others can go, and Jesus took his humanity back into heaven and into the heart of God. He became like us, so that we can become like him, close to the Father, and loved as sons and daughters, and welcomed as friends.

Jesus the Man
What was Jesus like?

The Character of God
How do we know what God is like?

The Authority of Scripture
How should we obey what the Bible teaches us?

The Wise Mans Tragedy
What can we learn from Solomon?

Obedience
What can we learn from the mother of Jesus?

Cain and Abel
What can we learn from the first murderer?

Aslan
Who is Aslan? Who is Jesus?

When the Fire Burns Low
How do we cope when we have grown tired of God's way?

Fix Your Eyes
How do we look for God?

Stewardship
Why should we look after the world God has given us?

Stability
How do we know who we are in God?

Lent - Pride, Doubt and Jealousy
What is the period of Lent all about?

Doorkeepers
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of God than dwell in the tents of the wicked...

Close Encounters
How do get to have intimacy with God?

Air
Can we feel the breath of God?

Hearing From God
How can I hear what God wants to say to me?

The Story We Find Ourselves In
The Bible tells the story of all creation - what is my part in that story?

Passover
What does Passover mean to us as Christians?

Life
What does it mean to say that Jesus is alive?

Fruit
What is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Wait
Teaching for Christmas Eve...

Authority
What does it mean to have authority?

Tired
What can we do when it all seems like too much?

I Will Be With You
What does it mean to say "God is with us"?

Angels
What are angels, and what can we learn from what the Bible says about them?

Fire
A contemplative service for Pentecost

Water
A creative/contemplative baptism service

Guidance
How do we know what we should do?

Stones
A creative prayer/worship service

The Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does (s)he do?

A Relationship With Jesus
What does it mean to have a 'relationship' with the Son of God?

The Pilgrim's Progress
If we keep our eyes on the prize, what a journey it could be!

Heroes, Promises and Trust
How does our relationship with Jesus realy work?

Warrior's Confession
A liturgy for masculine prayer

Living Life to the Full
How do we get the most out of life?

Abraham
What is so speacial about the faith of Abraham?

The Presence of God
What does it mean to say God is present?

How Do I Know My Faith is Real?
We all wrestle with doubt, so how can we cope?

Who is Jesus?
...and what does he want from you?

To Act Justly Every Day...
What does the Lord your God require of you?

Sex and Self Image
Don't you know how beautiful you are?

Obedience
Will you let Jesus be in charge?

Recognising Jesus
Would you know him if he met you on the road?

The Person of the Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does (s)he do?

The Passion of the King
What does Jesus really want?

Joy
How can we really 'count it all joy'?

More Than Words
"... but words can never hurt me"?

The Armour of God
What tools does God give us to protect us from the Enemy?

The Heart of the Gospel
The Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near to you, therefore...

Following Jesus
Do you really want to follow him?

Preaching Skills
How should I prepare to give a sermon?

Healing
The gift of healing comes from the Holy Spirit, but how does it work?

Church
The People of God

The Bible
What does it mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?

Jesus Part 2: The Deity of Christ
How can Jesus be God and Man at the same time?

Jesus Part 1: Who Do You Say I Am?
Who is Jesus, and why does He matter?

Temptation
How do we resist?

Holiness
What is holiness and how do we try to achieve it?

The Art of Spiritual Warfare
We're in a constant battle, so how do we try and prepare to fight?

Forgiveness Part Two: Forgiving Others
What is forgiveness and why do we need to forgive others?

Forgiveness Part One: Forgiven by God
Why does it seem so often that God is a million miles away?

Prayer Part Two: Receiving From God
Why does it seem so often that God is a million miles away?

Prayer Part One: The Lords Prayer
We look in detail at the Lords Prayer

Prophecy
It's one of the spiritual gifts, but what exactly is it, how does it happen?

Becoming a Christian
What is a Christian, how do you become one?

Basics of Christianity
Here we delve into the Nicene Creed