The Bible says Jesus was fully human and fully divine. If sin caused humanity to become less than God originally created it to be, how does Jesus’ life demonstrate what normal humanity is supposed to look like?
Bible Gateway interviewed Brian Hardin (@realbrianhardin) about his book, Sneezing Jesus: The Infectious Allure of the Human God (NavPress, 2017).
Explain the meaning of your book’s title.
Brian Hardin: The title, Sneezing Jesus, is a play on words that contains a dual meaning. A sneeze is a ubiquitous human activity. We all do it—and so did Jesus. I wanted to invoke Jesus humanity in the title because the book is a very human look at a very human God (Heb 2:14, Acts 2:22, Rom 5:15, Heb 4:15).
Although completely normal and human, a sneeze is also one of the ways we spread sickness and disease to our fellow human beings. I began to wonder what it might be like if we became so contagious with the pure and true Jesus within us that every thought, word, and deed left a trail of infectious love that spread like a virus throughout the Earth and became an epidemic. Jesus sneezed as a human being and we should be sneezing Jesus everywhere. Rather than making our species sick, it would heal it.
Why did you write the book?
Brian Hardin: I wrote Sneezing Jesus because, like most believers, I’ve longed to spend time with Jesus in the flesh. In John’s Gospel, we’re told that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and I wanted to attempt to make the flesh become word in this book. It began as a love story and an intimate portrait of Jesus’ human life, but the deeper I went, the more I began to realize that Jesus’ ministry has profound implications for the human species that we simply cannot ignore if we want to become Christ-like.
Why do you say “human” is the word that describes your understanding of, and relationship with, Jesus?
Brian Hardin: Jesus is the tangible manifestation of who God really is. And this is profound because, in Jesus, we see God’s unwillingness to be left out of the human story. Jesus is proof that God has not, and will not, abandon us. He’s proof that God understands what we face as human beings because in Jesus, God endured every aspect of humanity. We focus almost wholly on Jesus’ divinity, and when we do see him as human it’s largely tied to the last few hours of his life.
There’s so much more to the story though. Jesus didn’t need a full human life to atone for the sins of the world. He didn’t need a ministry to do that either. Jesus spent most of his time calling humanity back to what it was created to be. And those last few hours—the time of suffering—made it all possible again.
You write that Jesus “came to show us what humanity is supposed to look like.” What do you mean?
Brian Hardin: As believers, we’d all agree that we’re to be Christ-like. But why? Why would we pursue this objective if it were not what humanity was supposed to look like?
But it goes deeper than that. At creation, God crafted humanity in his own image (Gen 1:27). All was as it was supposed to be, and in those first chapters of the Bible we get a brief glimpse of humanity as it was intended.
When Jesus came to earth, he was the first person without sin to walk upon this planet since Adam. In other words, he was the first person to be a human being as it was created to be since Adam. In Jesus, we see less of an anomaly and more of what we were always supposed to be in the first place.
The heart of the gospel tells us that Christ’s sacrifice did away with sin and it’s claims over our lives restoring the breach between our species and God. To be Christ-like, then, is to be as we were always intended to be.
You suggest that the world is “inside out” but that Jesus came to reverse that. Unpack that.
Brian Hardin: If you listen to the words of Jesus given in the Gospels you become aware that he’s describing a kingdom and worldview that’s different than the systems and cultures we’re now living in. So different in fact that it’s almost the opposite of the way we live and react—we’re inside-out and backwards. This not only tells us much about God’s kingdom, it also gives us a clear contrast with what we’ve made of things here on Earth.
How does this book teach about the kingdom of Heaven in the lives of Christians?
Brian Hardin: If we’re honest, we find ourselves looking for almost exactly the same thing the Hebrew people Jesus ministered to were looking for. They wanted a Messiah who could inspire God’s people to rise and overthrow Roman oppression and restore the land to God so that he’d rebuild the ancient kingdom of Israel. When Jesus came with news of the kingdom of Heaven, it ignited their hearts. It was precisely this talk that had people wondering if he were the Messiah.
We now know who Jesus is but we find ourselves waiting for the same thing—a hero who’ll return to overthrow injustice and establish the kingdom of God. The problem is that Jesus was describing something entirely different:
“The kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the kingdom of God is already among you” (Luke 17:20-21).
The word ‘among’ from the original Greek manuscripts is entos which translates ‘within’ and ‘among.’ In other words, the kingdom Jesus described is something that’s already happening now and we’re a part of its advance or retreat on this planet right this minute. Although the fullness of the kingdom is not complete, we’re a part of that story. If we’re waiting—as the Hebrew people were in Jesus’ time—for someone to come and beat up the bad guys, then we’ll be missing what’s already happening and what we’re supposed to be participating in.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Brian Hardin: Nothing but love. Bible Gateway is an indispensable resource in my life. Our strategic partnership between Daily Audio Bible and Bible Gateway allows thousands of people to take the adventure through the entire Bible in a year in community. I literally use it almost every day of my life.
Bio: Brian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer and an ordained minister. In 2006, he created the Daily Audio Bible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month. He’s the author of Sneezing Jesus, Reframe: From the God We’ve Made to God with Us, and Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You. He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively. He’s married to Christian musician Jill Parr.
Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free for 30 days!