For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abrahams descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:16-17)
I’ve been thinking about superheroes lately. Most of them, it seems, appear to be normal people but they have something special added to them. Spider-man, a normal–perhaps even sub-normal teen–becomes remarkable with the aid of a radioactive spider’s bite. The relatively normal (albeit immortal) Wolverine has an indestructible skeleton grafted into his body. The Fantastic Four start out quite ordinary but then react in distinct and useful ways to cosmic rays. How convenient is that?
Even the father of superheroes, Superman, is essentially a normal human being who happens to possess a set of quite useful qualities. Why he feels it necessary to pursue journalism, I’m not entirely clear.
This model of superhero is nothing new. Homer, in creating Achilles, crafted a character who was a great human warrior with the added benefit of (near) invincibility. Hercules follows a similar model.
While superheroes typically represent humans who add something extra, there is another model available. What if someone who had incredible powers chose instead to make himself perfectly human in every way? Could that hero fight Lex Luthor or the Green Goblin? He wouldn’t be able to shoot spiderwebs or fly or stretch his arms a quarter mile away. What sort of a hero would that be?
Quite out of keeping with the models of superheroes created by man, Jesus becomes completely human in order to accomplish what only a human can do. The notion that Jesus was completely human leads to the idea that we as humans can attain to all of his accomplishments. We too can resist sin. We can work miracles. We can live self-abasing, self-sacrificing lives.
Such a view of Jesus does not diminish him. Instead, it glorifies him. For Spider-Man to do amazing things is expected, but for a completely human figure to do them is more so. And if a completely human Jesus could live in this fashion, what is our excuse?