“What Christ did not assume is not redeemed.”
That, or something like it, was a way that the early church fathers (Gregory? anyone help me out here?) reflected on the significance of Jesus’ incarnation and full humanity. Against the idea that he might not have had a human soul, for example, it was insisted that whatever we are must be what the Son became in order that we might become as the Son now is.
Advent is the perfect time to reorient ourselves to the fact that our savior was born truly human. Paul describes Jesus as being on earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh.”
This takes us back around to yesterday, and the question of hope and resurrection. The “assuming” part is crucial because it puts in place the pieces that are “redeemed” with the life, death, and resurrection.
With a human savior being raised from the dead, we are forever confronted by a proclamation of good news that refuses to be truncated by our favorite problems that need solving.
Yes, the gospel proclaims forgiveness from the guilt of sin. But if that’s your whole gospel you need to go back and ask yourself why this human was raised from the dead. Or, perhaps, what Mark 1-14 mean and why they qualify as the church’s good news.
Yes, the gospel proclaims freedom from oppressive powers. But if that’s your whole gospel, there’s a world of hunger and hurt that Jesus invites you to meet with healing and filling. The gospel is bigger than freedom.
Yes, the gospel tells us about the incomparable worth of humanity in the sight of God. But if that’s the sum total of your gospel, you need to keep asking questions: where are we, why does it matter, and what hope does creation have as it groans and waits?
Jesus did not only assume a human body, but the human situation as under God, under sin, under law; and as among other people, among sinners, and among saints; and as experiencing pain, experiencing hunger, and experiencing isolation; and as standing over the creatures, over the physical world, and over his disciples.
To be truly human is not only to exist as a soulish body, but to live on this world in this created order. This is the “assumption of human flesh” that Jesus entered into. And this is the extent of his redemption. And this is the extent of the hope that he extends.
He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found