Jesus, The “People-Person”

“In the Incarnation, the whole human race recovers the dignity of the image of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

THE incarnation or humanity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is next to His crucifixion, the greatest proof of God’s love for mankind.

The fact that Jesus lived physically and historically establishes His teachings not only as high spiritual ideals, but as practical, feasible and best practices for life. Not only did He tell us how to live, He also showed us how to live.

Our faith is not just in an archetypal, philosophical, spiritual Jesus. He had bones, flesh, skin and muscles: He accepted all the limitations of a material body: 

  • He had to sleep. (Matt. 8:24) 
  • He grew weary. (John 4: 6) 
  • He thrived. (John 19:34) 
  • He was hungry. (John 21:18) 
  • He grew and became strong. (Luke 1:80; 2:40)

Jesus Showed Emotions 

Anger: Matt. 17:18; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 9:51-56; Mark 10:13-14; Matt. 16:22-23; John 11:33, 38; Mark 16:14; Matt. 21:12-13.

  • Anxiety: Mark 14:33.
  • Agony: Luke 22:44.
  • Warm affection: Mark 10:21; John 11:5.
  • Empathy: Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34.
  • Shame: Heb. 12:2.

That the God through whom all things came into being so limited Himself is a true act of love. He took no advantage of this. It was 100% just for us

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” (1 John 1:1-2). 

“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” (1 John 4:2). 

His incarnation anchors our faith in that we can see, it is possible to pursue the image of God (Rom. 8:29). 

Jesus Dined and Walked with People

At the table, we not only give people food; we build relationships – share stories and memories. Jesus was born in an animal’s manger (Luke 2:7, 12, 16). A large part of Jesus’ ministry takes place around the table.

The word “hospitable” comes from the root word “hospital” and the word “restaurant” comes from the root word “restore”. Hospitality was at the heart of that time’s culture: serving guests and kind of “hanging out”. The greater your prestige in the community, the greater your hospitality had to be. Ample time was also given for the meal. People relax when they eat. 

Read Leonard Sweet’s book: From Tablet to Table, for more information.[1]

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matt. 11:19)

Yet Jesus was not obsessed with food. There were times when work and ministry came before food. 

“Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. (Mark. 3:2031

“In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”  (Joh. 4:31)

People can completely lose focus and just think about food. Jesus focuses on people and sees food as the means to reach a person’s heart. 

“Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” (1 Cor. 11:33)

In Luke chapter 14 Jesus used the table to teach the people around Him more directly. Weighty matters were handled around the table.

“Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 

And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him regarding these things. 

But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

…Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!

…Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ” (Luke 14)

Jesus’ Table Is Inclusive 

He knew Judas was going to betray Him, but still ate with him. 

“But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. (Luke 22:21-23)

One of the most beautiful stories of Jesus’ humanness is when He made food for His disciples. Isn’t this exactly how we show our friends we enjoy their togetherness?

“But when the morning had come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” (John 21:4-5)

Jesus sees the table as a way to serve people and reach out to your neighbor. 

“Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.” (Luke 14:12-13)

Jesus’ methods of discipleship and evangelism in a home was to use the people’s hospitality (see Luke 10:8). No one was excluded. Everyone is welcome at Jesus’ table. 

“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matt. 9:11

Jesus even eats with His arch-enemies, the Pharisees (see Luke 7:3611:3714:1).

Feeding hungry people is part of the heart of the gospel. Without food, we cannot survive. Jesus is practical about people’s physical needs as well as their spiritual well-being. He feeds the 5,000 (Matt. 14:16) and then the 4,000 (Matt. 15:27) and then gives a long sermon in which He says that His body should be eaten (John 6).  To remind us, that life is not about food, but finding spiritual food. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. (John 6:27)

Jesus Gets “Dirty” to Cleanse Us

Jesus is not afraid to touch our filth and get dirty to cleanse us. As opposed to the Pharisees, who seemed to care much for outward cleanliness, ignoring the condition of the heart. 

“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” (Matt. 15:2Mark. 7:2-5). 

Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean! 

“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matt. 8:2-3

It’s one of Jesus’ most beautiful qualities. He is willing to get into our world’s filth, dirt, and brokenness. He lives in a grubby, poor community in Nazareth. He does the work of a craftsman, where He would very soon become soiled with sweat and sawdust and most probably get a splinter or two. Jesus is not too holy to touch our filth. On the contrary, He deliberately touches our dirt to sanctify us: 

  • Jesus lays His hands on the sick. (Matt. 9:29; Mark 5:23; 7:32; 8:25) 
  • Jesus touches the dead boy’s stretcher and raises him from the dead. (Luke 7: 11-17)
  • He touches the dead girl: 

“Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  (Mark 5:41)

Jesus’ ministry was unique and very different. Surprisingly, He even used His spit to heal people! I see people shivering, shaking their heads, and turning away. Yet Jesus healed people three times by means of His spit! I cannot imagine a more ‘unhealthy’ touch.  

“And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue.”  (Mark 7:33)

“Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking. Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.” (Mark 8:22-26)

“When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” (John 9:6)

Jesus shows us very clearly that holiness has nothing to do with sterile, quarantine-like behavior. Sin makes us unclean. Someone who is addicted to alcohol and gets drunk gets corrupted! People’s disobedience and rebellion lead to pig pens (see Luke 15:15). Jesus comes to fetch us in our filthy pig pens. He is not too shy or arrogant to touch our brokenness and humanity!

“After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples‘ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” (John 13:5)

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)

Jesus’ Labour Glorified God

The incarnation of Jesus’ upbringing roots, anchors our lives in the knowledge that thirty years of ordinary, artisanal, farming out-of-the-spotlight labour contributed to an eternal purpose. His day-to-day life was not less important. Holiness is not reserved for the Priests and the Levites serving in the temple, excluded from the filth of daily labour.  Jesus was fully human, serving humanity first as a son, a brother, a labourer, a craftsman, and a builder before doing miraculous deeds and travelling from town to town preaching the gospel. 

The Son of God spent nearly thirty years doing the daily work of the common man. Thus, daily work is no less important than temple service and preaching. Everyone has their God-ordained place (if you allow it). Jesus performed many miracles, but there were no daily extraordinary miracles and no resurrection of the dead every day. Miracles and signs are important, but what is essential is the daily routine that paved the way for these miracles!

The incarnation of God through Jesus helps us to rethink the myth that we need more and more to be successful. Jesus showed that ordinary people’s lives can be sacred, too. This alone should bring great contentment and joy. The fact that God became man and spent most of His life as an unknown carpenter in the small town of Nazareth gives us a more sober, authentic perspective of life. The idea that we are all special, intended to be some kind of superstar, is a lie! Look at the facts: only a very few people ever make it to stardom, and even fewer remain in the limelight. 

Through His incarnation, we learn that every life has dignity and meaning and that every ordinary life matters. The incarnation mystery helps us remember that an ordinary life is worth living. Otherwise, God would have chosen a different life, a different town and perhaps a more relevant time – like the present. [4]  Our daily existence, therefore, has meaning and value. Nothing is free or trivial. 

“For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” (Zech. 4:10) 

Jesus came to show us that daily work can also be sanctified because He was perfectly human, yet He did not sin. We also glorify the Lord through the quality of our work as His holy vessels. 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) 

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” (Prov. 22:29) 

You’re welcome to read this inspiring and comforting blog post by Dr. Andre Pelser about unsung Heroes to reflect further on the sacredness of the ordinary! [2]

Work To Be Able To Give 

“Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.”  (Eph. 4:28 AMP)

Of the Queen of Sheba, the writer reports:

“The food of his table, the seating of his officials, the standing at attention of his servants, their apparel, his cupbearers, his ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord [or the burnt offerings he sacrificed], she was breathless and overcome.” (1 Kings 10:5 AMP) 

I believe Solomon treated his servants with dignity and not as slaves. Therefore, they were proud to serve. Similarly, our farms, warehouses, and factories should also amaze the government at the way in which we empower people and develop human dignity.

“Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” (Matt. 5:3 Amp)

The Power of Weakness

The “upside down” kingdom of God states that we are indeed strong when we are weak. 

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need.’ My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. “ (2 Cor. 12:9, 10 NLV)

This means that as believers, we boast despite our weaknesses, not our strengths. Our weakness, fragility, and honest recognition of our dependence unlock His power in our lives!

Undeserved Grace

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”  (Rom. 5:6 NLV)

The first believers were not some of the smartest, most influential, and strongest people:

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. 

And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  

As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 

Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:26-31 NLV)

We simply cannot determine the end of our lives. We do not know when and how our lives will come to an end. 

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. 

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 

But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17)

Therefore, we hold on loosely to the temporal and earthly because God has anchored us in the Spirit and given us a firm grip on Himself. Through the ages, we have repeatedly heard the stories of people who put their faith and trust in God. 

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6)

If Jesus, the Son of Man, was so dependent on the Father, what makes us think we can rush out on our own? He shows us the best way to live this life: in deep dependence on Him. We are humbly reliant. After all, we do not want to possess anything that has not been given by His hand. 

That which we obtain in the flesh, we must sustain in the flesh! 

“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 

For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” (John 5:19-2030)

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)

“Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)

“And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”  (John 8:29)

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” (John 12:49).

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. …” (John 14:102431)

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39)

We Can Do Nothing Without Him

We live in the same dependence on the Holy Spirit as Jesus lived in dependence upon the Father.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

True Dependence Upon God

It is essential to distinguish between self-centred and self-driven behaviours and those in which we use our talents to the glory of His name in dependence upon God. The notion: “God helps the people who help themselves” is based on the rebellion of the original people, Adam and Eve. 

Also, the rich young man did everything in his power to uphold the law and inherit eternal life. Yet, when the Lord asked him to sell everything and give to the poor, He could not do it. The motive behind all the hard work was self-enrichment.

“And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:24-26

When we come to the end of ourselves, God, through His grace and His divine ability, works salvation in us. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Phil. 4:13) 

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].”  (Matt.5:3 Amp)



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