A God Named Josh
MAY 20, 2023
by Jared Brock
And did other human things. That’s the insane wonder of the incarnation.
The God of the universe, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present King of Kings and Lord of Lords, creator of heaven and earth, maker of oceans and galaxies and subatomic particles and kombucha—The Dude— humbled himself to become a helpless, voiceless, pooping baby, born to a teenager out of wedlock, in a filthy barn, in an overcrowded city, under the rule of corrupt religious officials and a murderous foreign dictator.
And He didn’t stop there.
Jesus learns to crawl. And walk. And talk. And feed himself. He learns to read but never owns a single book. He goes through puberty. His voice cracks and croaks and eventually deepens. He gets body odor. He grows chest hair. He makes friends (and enemies). He learns to fish, and build things, and preach like nobody’s ever heard.
At twelve, He ditches His parents on their annual family vacation. They freak. Our preteen has gone off the handle. They search the capital city and eventually find Him in the temple. He’s listening and learning, but He’s also teaching. Everyone’s amazed. He grows in stature, and in favor with God and man.
And then it happens. Around age thirty, He changes careers. He’s a rabbi now. He collects a dozen young men—a rowdy and riotous lot, some zealous and others traitorous, all unbelieving to varying degrees—and invites them to follow Him.
They’re soon joined by others, including loads of epic women, and their merry band of seventy travelers walks at least 21,525 miles. They eat bread, fish, and figs, but not one tomato or potato or ear of corn. They hang out with a diverse cast of characters, including a grandpa named Heli, a desert-dwelling, river-dunking, grasshopper-chomping kinsman who gets beheaded, and a weird prophet-uncle who once lost his voice for nine months. Jesus laughs. He cries. He gets angry. He cracks jokes. He breaks up fights. He engages in economic sabotage. He mourns, He dances, He fasts, He feasts. He works, rests, commands, stresses, prays. He faces every temptation, bears every burden, experiences every emotion that we’ve experienced. And why shouldn’t He? He’s human.
And yet . . . there are miracles. Everywhere, miracles. Water turns to wine, blindness turns to sight, death turns to life. He reads minds. He sees hearts. He speaks with authority. He preaches a highly controversial theology with massive socioeconomic and political implications: the kingdom of heaven.
The people start talking. Who is this man, this Galilean with His treasonous political agenda? Could He be the Christos, the Messiah-King chosen not only to overthrow the dictator, but also to be the spiritual savior of His people? Nazareth, you say? Nothing great has ever come from that redneck, backwater part of the world. What’s His name? Joshua, son of Joseph? Yehoshua ben Yehoseph?
A God . . . named Josh?
Jesus lived, ministered, was crucified, and then people believed He was God. From naked infant to naked martyr, from crying in a cradle to crying out on a cross. From a fetus fearfully and wonderfully knit together in His mother’s womb to His ascension and that coronation where He’s crowned with glory and honor forever. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, He is fully God and fully man.
Being a human is hard. Life, even the very best life, is full of pain and misery, heartbreak, loss. Even on the best of days, human life requires effort, struggle, sweat.
Being God is so much better. You don’t have the constraints of a body or gravity or time. You don’t have to feel pain or experience loss if you don’t want to. Disappointment disappears when you know the future. You have total freedom and autonomy and unlimited resources. Why in the world would you set that all aside and come to earth as a helpless human baby—in wretched, Roman-ruled, first-century Palestine, no less?
You’d need to love something—or someone—an awful lot.
From A God Named Josh by Jared Brock, provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2023. Used by permission.
Jared Brock is an award-winning author and director of several films including PBS’s acclaimed Redeeming Uncle Tom with Danny Glover. His writing has appeared in Christianity Today, The Guardian, Smithsonian, USA Today, Huffington Post, Relevant, and TIME. Learn more at jaredbrock.com.