I don’t have any problems at all understanding that Jesus was a man. I can picture someone who walks, talks, breathes, thinks, remembers, laughs, cries, tells stories, and suffers, just like any other human being. The problem, for me, is trying to work out the way in which Jesus was uniquely God.
From the perspective of my own panentheism, we are all expressions of God. Nothing is separate from God, including every cell of our bodies. God creates and sustains us. So there is a way in which I am God in human form, and you are too. I have no problem imagining the same was true of Jesus, but this doesn’t explain the way in which Christians perceive Jesus as unique.
In what other ways did the earthly Jesus express his unique connection to God? Jesus famously said “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) which is often taken to be evidence that Jesus was aware that he had existed eternally. But I would equally say, “Before Abraham was, I am” about myself. I believe the consciousness of all human beings exists eternally. So Jesus is no different in this respect.
Let us look at a couple of other scriptures that Christians use as evidence for the uniqueness of Christ. There is John 10:30 “I and the father are one” and John 7:29 “I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me”. But again, I would say the same things about myself, or about any other human being. We are all one with God, and God has sent us all, in the sense that He created us and sustains us and directs our lives.
Once again, I feel the need to ask how was Jesus different? We could look at the miracles of Jesus and say that they make him unique. But miracles are attributed to countless other figures in history, including some of the apostles, which shows that God can work through anyone He chooses to make miracles happen. So miracles do not make Jesus any more God than anyone else.
What about the resurrection? I rarely hear Christians say that Jesus raised himself from the dead, they tend to say that God raised Jesus from the dead. I believe that God has infinite power, so I don’t find it hard to imagine that God could bring someone back to life after three days, if this did indeed happen. But does the resurrection make Jesus any different from the other Biblical figures who were raised from dead (there are many)? I don’t see how.
Having read the New Testament and reflected on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, I am left with the feeling that Jesus lived a life that was very human, but was not divine in any unique way. This leads me to the conclusion that Jesus was a man of great influence, who lived a colourful and difficult life, but I do not see that Jesus was God any more than we are all sons and daughters of God.
The above article is a modified extract from my book Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion, which is currently available for free. To find out more and get your copy, visit the Books page.