We cannot fathom the incarnation, what it meant for God to become man. One of the earliest heresies to emerge was docetism: the claim that Jesus did not possess a truly human body, but rather a celestial or illusory body and therefore that he did not truly suffer on the cross, but only appeared to. The Gospels and wider New Testament counter this heresy by repeatedly affirming the reality of the incarnation. Not only do we read about the feelings, experiences, and suffering of Jesus, we also see Him as an individual, not some generic human. He has particular friends and turns of phrase, particular moments of intensity, and a particular concern for His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sometimes, I think we forget the human nature of Jesus. In seeing Him in glory or as the familiar figure from Sunday school and illustrate bibles, we can lose that dimension of Him that is His individuality as a human being. This has an impact on our relationship with Him. When we see any member of the Trinity or God generally in generic terms, we can become detached and distant. God becomes merely a concept and we lapse into the well-meaning, bland “spiritually” espoused by so many people of goodwill whose ethics are so often good, but whose connection with God is less than what He desires.

The bible speaks of friendship with God and Christ referred to His disciples as His friends. Thinking back on my own spiritual condition (this is not the forum to go into detail, however) and the remote methods we currently use for holding church services and bible studies, I am struck by how easy it is for church and our individual lives to lapse into a kind of two-dimensional form.

So often I take a broad view of things, necessitated by studying and understanding various aspects of Scripture. But we are supposed to have a personal relationship with Christ and the foundation of that is getting to know who He is in all aspects of His character and life. Prayer is one part of that, but so is looking with fresh eyes at the accounts of His life found in the Gospels.

Looking at them again, I see a man who wept when Lazarus died, who felt compassion for people who had been ostracised, and who used harsh language against religious hypocrites and spiritual tyrants. This Jesus is not some generic human but someone who was hungry at a particular time in history after fasting for forty days; and who grew up in Egypt and Nazareth. He was fond of John, His friend, and entrusted him with the care of His mother, Mary.

This is a real person and it behoves me, at least, to think about that more often.