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Land: Jesus understands when no one else does

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Every Christian minister will encounter times in his life when no one understands his problems, and in those instances he will only be able to turn to Jesus Christ, Richard Land said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary March 15.

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee, turned to Philippians 2:5-11 to preach on “The Full Humanity of Jesus — Its Neglected Emphasis in Orthodox Christology.”

Land said the doctrine of Jesus’ full humanity — which includes the belief that he felt emotions and was tempted but still lived a perfect life — makes it possible for ministers to turn to Christ during their times of trouble.

“You will reach the point sometime when nobody understands you — your mamma, your daddy, your spouse, your best friend — nobody will understand you,” Land told the chapel audience. “And you’ll find yourself thinking — whether you say it or not to one of your closest friends — ‘I can’t believe you don’t understand me.’ But when nobody understands you, [Jesus] understands.”

Jesus himself experienced this the night of his arrest while praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, Land said.

“He found that his closest supporters, his closest ministry companions, had gone to sleep,” Land said. “They didn’t understand. Peter, who was the leader, didn’t understand. There will be those times when you are doing what God called you to do, when nobody is going to understand and when nobody understands. Jesus understands … because he has been tempted in all ways.”

Land said the doctrine of Jesus’ full and complete humanity is shown throughout the New Testament, but especially in Philippians 2:5-11 and the first chapter of John.

“We would know an enormous amount less about the person of Christ if we did not have these two absolutely crucial passages of Scripture,” Land said.

The doctrine of Jesus’ humanity is often overlooked, he said, because Baptist theologians and pastors tend to emphasize the doctrine of Jesus’ deity — the doctrine most under attack in the 20th century. Both, though, are crucial elements to Christ’s messiahship, Land said.

“In that emphasis — that necessary emphasis — on the full and complete deity of Jesus, I am afraid that often we have neglected … the full and complete humanity of Jesus,” Land said. “Jesus became a man. It is just as important to his messiahship. It is just as important to his salvific purpose and his salvific ministry.”

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippian church, “makes it very clear that this is absolutely essential to [Jesus] being the redeemer — that there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” Land said. “A mediator … had to be someone who could fully and completely represent both of the conflicted parties.

“As God he can perfectly represent God to us as human beings. And as a man, he can perfectly represent us to God the Father.”

As a human, Land said, Jesus could “get hungry and thirsty and ultimately he could give up the ghost and die as a man, but as God none of those things would be possible. They would be inconsistent with his theos nature.”

Land said he discovered years ago that many Southern Baptist preachers just out of seminary had a misunderstanding about the personhood of Christ. Land said they believed “that the material parts — the arms and the legs and the flesh and the eyes — that that was human, but the immaterial part was divine. That’s not what the Bible is saying. The Bible is saying he became man with a human soul and a human spirit. He became a man in every sense that Adam was a man before the fall.”

Land used an illustration by C.S. Lewis, who “said that to understand the incarnation we would have to compare it to a man who would be willing to become a slug … in order to save all the other slugs. That is the only way you can understand the depth and the incredible nature of what Jesus Christ was willing to do because of his love and his mercy for us.”

Chapel messages can be heard on-line at http://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/speakers_chapel.html.

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  • Michael Foust