I’m only human

“I’m only human.”

How many times have you heard people say that? How many times have you said that? Usually, we say it when we’ve done something we know we shouldn’t have done.

I cheated on the test. I’m only human.
I stayed up too late watching TV. I’m only human.
I got a little angry and said things I shouldn’t have said. I’m only human.

But why is it that our “human-ness” is clearest to us when we stumble?

The amazing truth of Christmas is that Jesus comes to us as fully God. But is it any less remarkable that he also comes to us as fully human? Both aspects of Jesus defy full explanation, but I wonder: might his humanity be harder for us to appreciate than his divinity?

You see, I already understand that I will never fully grasp what it means to be divine. But the fact that Jesus is also human means that everyone else who has ever lived — Everyone Else — has missed out on what it really means to be fully human. As Hebrews 4.15 says, Jesus has been tested in every way, and yet is without sin. In other words, only Jesus has faced life — with all its temptations, struggles, trials and tests — and lived a complete, perfect, fully whole life. Jesus faced life fully, and he lived life fully human.

This means that if I want to understand what it means for me to be human, I have to look at how Jesus lived. And learn from what he taught. And find myself in him. For so many people, following Jesus ends up being about: what I can’t do, or the rules I have to follow. Instead, when I read Scripture, what I find is an invitation to find myself in Jesus. To be more human, not less — as I find who I am truly meant to be, in Jesus.

So, during this Christmas-time, reflect on Jesus’ humanity. Consider what it means that Jesus has become fully human, opening the way for you and me to become fully human, ourselves. Through his grace, I become the Jeff I am truly meant to be. And you become the person you were meant to be. More complete. More whole. More human.


I’m Jeff Dye. After 16 years on staff at a healthy, outreach-minded church, I currently have a ministry called The Paraklesis Project. In the New Testament, “paraklesis” means encouragement — which is what I seek to bring to churches of all sizes through speaking and consulting.