Fat God

Reading Time: 3 mins

God demonstrates his great love for us in the actions of Jesus, who came down into the flesh and soaked up all our sin.

It was the end of a busy day teaching high school, and I was headed to my car to go home. On my way, I noticed two of our brightest students sitting in the hall. I asked them what they were up to. They were waiting for a Red Cross meeting for next month's blood drive. They both had curious faces, and one asked me, "Mrs. Crowder, how much do you think Jesus weighed?"

The question surprised me. Why in the world were these two young men thinking about Jesus's weight? Were they trying to sign him up for their upcoming blood drive? My gut instinct was to warn them that there were better ways to engage with theology than speculating on something theoretical about Jesus. It reminded me of the meaningless exercise of the scholastics who tried to figure out how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. What nonsense!

But before I chided them, I thought we could find a way to direct this line of questioning into a Biblical Christology, so instead of going home, we had a little discourse. 

First, I asked them why they were trying to determine how much Jesus weighs. The reason was due to a claim they had found on the internet: because Jesus was so "filled with the spirit," he didn't weigh anything. This response reminded me of the gnostics, who would think that Jesus was a spiritual being, denying the human nature of Jesus entirely. I thought this was a good time to talk about the Incarnation. I reminded them that Jesus is fully God but also fully man. If we think about Isaiah 53:2, "he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him." Jesus wasn't necessarily Disney-prince handsome, but probably just a regular-looking man. So I told them he likely would have been an average kind of guy who you would see living in the Middle East. We speculated a bit about the average weight for men during Jesus' time and wondered what the scale would read if we could weigh Jesus.

Suddenly, an image popped into my mind, making me smile. The sketch is from Steven Paulson's Luther for Armchair Theologians book, which contemplates not a skinny, light spirit-filled Jesus but rather a big fat God who is big enough to pay all the debt of our sin. I described it to the boys and eagerly headed home to email the chapter to them.

When I got home, I had to see that chapter. It was just as I remembered it: a funny drawing of God sitting on a scale you would typically see in a court of law, but God's weight has collapsed the scale, sending the other side of the scale as high up as it could go. 

Paulson writes, "Sinners do not need a skinny, monastic God, who somehow slips into and out of a body; they need an incarnate tub of lard to comes down so hard and deep into the world, that when God sits on the other pan of the scales, we bounce up like we are on the slight end of a teeter-totter" (pg. 142). God demonstrates his great love for us in the actions of Jesus, who came down into the flesh and soaked up all our sin. Not because we deserve it, but because of his love! Because Jesus came down from heaven, we can now be raised up! (Eph. 2:7)

Paulson continues, "Consequently, for Luther, salvation is not taking leave of humanity and becoming like God; it is becoming really and fully human as God's trusting creature in Christ's new kingdom; being human means receiving everything in creation from God through trusting in his promises day by day" (pg. 144). Jesus in the Incarnation comes down to us in our humanity, and he stays in his humanity so that we can become fully human by being fully dependent on our Creator. 

My students often wonder about Jesus. One time, I was walking down a hall, and a room of art students were painting images of Jesus and were wondering what the Bible said about his physical appearance. I applauded their intuition to look to scripture to see the true nature of Christ. We may not find the exact details we are curious about, hair or eye color, height or weight, but it's the Word of God that tells us the most important details about Christ, starting and ending with the fact that true God became man for us, for our salvation, and for our good. 

Regardless of what Jesus weighs, what a joy his great big love is for you!