Bible, Prayer, Theology

The Humanity of Prayer


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We were flicking through movie rental options on TV the other night when we stumbled across Kevin Reynolds’ 2016 film Risen – a film about the resurrection of Christ as seen through the eyes of a Roman Military Tribune, Clavius ((Joseph Fiennes).

Inititially I thought the film was going to be lame but was surprised by the way the film grew on me, particualrly when Jesus featured, as played by Cliff Curtis – I’d thoroughly recommend renting/buying the film!

Barging into the Upper Room

There is one particular aspect of the film that continues to speak to me powerfully:

As the Bible says, when Jesus rose from the grave, after Mary Magdalene had recognised Him by the grave-side, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Walls, Roman Soldiers, constanty conspiring Pharisees and the frightened bewilderment of His people weren’t a problem – Jesus met with his friends to prove his resurrection glory and to encourage His grieving mates.

If you watch the film like me, you’ll be transfixed by a scene when Clavius barges into a Hebrew home’s upper room looking for the group of disciples who he suspected as having stollen the dead body of the Nazarene. With sword flailing and door splintering, he freezes in mid-motion as his eyes fall on the Risen Christ, sat in the middle of the upper room surrounded by adoring His disciples.

Walls, Roman Soldiers, constanty conspiring Pharisees and the frightened bewilderment of His people weren’t a problem – Jesus met with his friends to prove his resurrection glory and to encourage His grieving mates.

What would this have actually been like for the twelve who had previously doubted and thought they’d lost their Messiah? What would this have been like for any of the Jews or Romans who began to find themselves believing, like Clavius?

What is this like for you and me as we live a life of faith, today?

Somehow, it’s like a clarifying insanity (CHECK THE BLOG NEXT WEEK).

The Humanity of Prayer

It was the humanity of Jesus that struck me in this film. Seeing these post-grave scenes played out on the screen enabled me to imagine what it would have been like to be there – to have enjoyed the Messiah-caught fish in John 21 and Peter’s restoration. Therefore, it helped me to imagine what it would be like to imagine Jesus appearing again, as He surely will.

But more than this, it was imagining the interaction of the Risen Christ as the Son of Man with His men that was so encouraging for the here and now.

When we visit the place of prayer we’re not entering a room with an ethereal Spirit only. Jesus is the Son of Man, meaning He is is both fully divine and fully human. Mind blown? Welcome to the epicentre of the Christian faith: The Bible wants us to be in no doubt that Jesus is fully human and yet is still fully God – one Person; two natures. (For a fuller, 5-minute study of the significance of the term Son of Man, CLICK HERE).

Jesus is a Jewish Man who has Personality as well as Personhood

What does this mean for your praying?

It means that you’re speaking/listening to a Man! Who is God! A Jewish Man Who is God and Who has sealed your heart for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13) if you have surrednered your life to Him.

I know that I can definitely relate to Jesus more as Spirit than as a Person (if you can understand what I mean) – we don’t always expect Him to laugh, to wink, to have facial expressions, to mess around, to have fun with us – but Jesus is a Jewish Man who has Personality as well as Personhood.

Do you think of Jesus’ character when you’re discerning what to do or what He’s saying?

Think about it now, as Peter says (1 Peter 1:8)

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Through His Spirit, Jesus does literally relate to us in these recogniseable human ways because He walked where we walk and is, as the Bible says in Isaiah 53, familiar with suffering and absolutely unique as a Person, just as each of us are.

I found this thought of Jesus’ humanity to be an energising, faith-priming reminder that when we come to pray and pursue His manifest presence, the literal Person, (the same literal Person), of Yeshua is waiting to meet us.

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