22nd October 2022

The Man up there

As I listened to Neil Diamond’s Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, my attention was drawn to the phrase “the man up there.” I used to think it was theologically incorrect to refer to God this way, but I’ve come to realize it’s not a bad thing at all. 

A beautiful song, Mary Did You Know? says Mary kissed the face of God. The people who interacted with Jesus saw God in the flesh and he became real to them. He revealed – in himself – who the Father is. The human Jesus gave us a way to see God up close and personal, identify with him and know he identifies with us. He also gave us an insight into eternity. As Thomas looked at the holes in Jesus’ hands and side, he finally understood just who he’d been with the past three years and could only exclaim, My Lord and my God!

When Jesus ascended to his Father, he returned to his spirit existence but he also remained human. We don’t understand how this was possible but if it weren’t true, we wouldn’t have our amazing connection to him. In him, heaven and earth converge, enfold and commingle in a mysterious way. He is still the one who lived a physical existence, shared our pain and sorrow and still carries the wounds we inflicted upon him. He will keep those scars forever, as a reminder to us that his life – his human life – is forever entwined with ours. 

Thinking of Jesus as the man up there is not entirely correct – he is not up there somewhere, far away, rather he is right here with us and in us. His human heart and his God heart (if I can put it this way) beat as one with ours. We can trust that he will never forget how it felt to be just like us – flesh and blood, tears and laughter, joy and pain, fear and hope. His love, compassion, mercy and grace, while always there for us, could only have become stronger through (kenotically) sharing our human condition.

Study by Tammy Tkach

First published on 27 September 2022, at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com


About the writer:
Tammy Tkach is the Assistant Pastor of the Eugene, Oregon, USA congregation. She is a speaker and writer, and publishes a blog at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com  

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