by Dr. Ralph Gilmore
It seems that everyone would like to have more balance in life. Perhaps that is because there are so many demands on our lives that our frustrations seek alleviation from some source or another. As Christians, it is only natural that we would seek for balance in the life of our Lord. Although writing about balance is a popular contemporary topic in religion, finding the word in Scripture is not as easy. Certainly looking to the life of Jesus is aspirational, but likewise hard to quantify because the gospels only record perhaps forty days or so of the three and one-half year personal ministry of Jesus. We are depending on the Holy Spirit, and rightly so, to judge that what is recorded about Jesus in the gospels is itself balanced and representational (John 21:25).
Isorropia is the alleged Greek word for “balance,” but it does not appear in that specific form in the New Testament. However, the word isos (“equal”) does appear eight times in the New Testament, and the word isotes (“equality”) appears three times in the New Testament. These words are related is isorropia.
Having researched several sources on this topic, there are the more traditional ways to address the topic of balance in Jesus’ life. Other approaches, though less traditional, seem to be forced into a pattern that may have been preconceived on the part of the author. In a book entitled Godspace, Christine Sine identifies four basic rhythms in the life of Jesus—the balance between the spiritual and secular, work and rest, community and solitude, and fasting and feasting. Although I am attracted to the concept of “rhythms” in life, she leaves me behind when she affirms, “Jesus never made a decision without spending at least a night in prayer” and “everywhere Jesus went there was a party.” Of course Jesus was prayerful, but there is absolutely no evidence in Scripture to confirm the universal nature of these statement. There was not much of a party going on in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to the crucifixion of Jesus. Also, in the life of Jesus it would be difficult to draw the line between “spiritual and secular” as Jesus perceived his own ministry. Another approach that is very helpful in another setting is to encourage those well trained in theology to honor the balance between doing theology and becoming professional theologians. However, this same principle is not applicable to the life of Jesus himself.
Of more benefit to me in understanding the balance in Jesus’ life is to consider the expressions “son of man” and “son of God.” I have always been intrigued, and overwhelmed, in considering the incarnation of Jesus (John 1:14) and its implications in the life of Jesus. There had to be a delicate balance between the humanness and the divine nature of Jesus. If too much of the divine side is emphasized in the Jesus’ daily walk, then he appears out of touch with the weaknesses and frustrations of the ordinary person. He loses relevance and effectiveness as our mediotes, or mediator, between where God is and where we are (1 Tim. 2:5). If the human side is overemphasized, then Jesus is brought down to our level and falls into the same pits that we do (Heb. 4:15). I understand that Jesus is not 50 percent God and 50 percent man; Jesus is 100 percent God-man. Nevertheless, it is not inappropriate to examine how this God-man essence balances out in the life of Jesus.
The gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke use the expression “son of man” more than twice as frequently as the “son of God.” John uses the expressions equally. I am aware that one should not base an entire theological point on the frequency of word usage in the Bible, but one can easily see that the expression “son of man” is the preferred expression by the gospel writers.
Upon closer examination, themes begin to emerge. A strong case can be made that the phrase “son of man” is indicative of the human side of Jesus being emphasized in the context. It is the son of man who does not have a place to lay his head (Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58) perhaps because his physical body does not have a permanent residence. The son of man is likewise noted as being able to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6; Mark 2:10), a feat unequalled by any man walking on the earth before or since. It will be the son of man who returns someday either in an intermediate judgment of God or the final judgment of God (Matt. 10:23; Mark 9:38; Luke 21:27). It was the physical, or human, body of Jesus, the son of man, who was delivered as the perfect sacrifice through crucifixion (Matt. 17:22; 20:18; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22, 44). Through his surrogate death, Jesus, the son of man, was the ransom for many (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). There is no recourse for forgiveness if one blasphemes the son of man (Luke 12:10). The son of man was glorified because of his submission to the will of God (John 12:23). It would seem odd if God himself were to be submissive to God, but the son of man certainly can be. Finally, because of who he is and what he did, the son of man is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Luke 22:69). I believe that it is not hermeneutical leap to conclude that the expression “the son of man” often indicated the human side of Jesus. The son of man was thirsty, hungry, wept physical tears, and had the human emotions intrinsically connected to humanness. Indeed, he was in physical form (1 John 1:1-3).
Corresponding to this analysis, the expression “son of God” usually indicated his divine side. It was the son of God that Satan wanted to tempt, not just a mere man (Matt. 4; Luke 4). The power challenge presented by demon-possession was not a mere physical struggle, but a spiritual one. The devil has his eye on the son of God (Matt. 8:29; Mark 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:28). When Jesus walked on water in Matthew 14, it proved his deity—his son of God-ness (v. 33). Note also that Peter did not confess that Jesus was the son of man in Matt. 16:18-20, but the son of God. Pilate wanted to know if Jesus was the son of God in Matt. 26:63 and Luke 22:70. He was not interested in dealing with a man who claimed to have a human side. After the events following the crucifixion, the centurion proclaimed that Jesus was the son of God (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39). John wrote his gospel with an apologetic emphasis because he wanted us to recognize the signs that tell us that Jesus is the son of God (John 20:30-31). Finally, it is both the son of man and the son of God who are glorified (John 12:23; 11:4).
How did Jesus find the balance in his life? Jesus did not have a sinful struggle between his human side and his divine side because he did not sin (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22), but he did have a genuine struggle. He did not desire to go through the crucifixion (Luke 22:42). He wept bitterly over the city of Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39). And he felt genuinely deserted when he proclaimed (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). It is not a sin to feel the way he felt when it does not lead to sin.
On the other hand, my struggle is different because I do struggle between flesh and blood and my struggle has resulted in sin (Rom. 8:1-5; 3:23). When the desires of the flesh have gone too far, sin results (1 John 2:15-17). Yet there is an appropriate, reasonable attention that should be given to our physical nature. The lust of the flesh is sin, but positive self-esteem is endemic in “you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39). Certainly the lust of the eyes takes one away from God, but using the eyes as motivating factors to help us to see the fields white unto harvest is a good thing (Matt. 9:36-37). The desires presented by seeing can be in tune with the will of God. The pride of life also may be entirely out of bounds (Herod in Acts 12:20-23). But God does want one to have respect for oneself so as not to harm the flesh (Eph. 5:29). The point is--balance. The spiritual side of me is most important, but it is okay to give attention to the human or physical side insofar as it is consistent with the call of Jesus. Live. Laugh. Love. But love God first in order to find the balance that only God can provide.
Dr. Ralph Gilmore teaches in the School of Biblical Studies at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atanasios Nenes uses isorropia in the sense of “equilibrium” at nenes.eas.gatech.edu.
 Luke 2:52 (“And Jesus increased in…”) rises to the top of the list of more standard approaches.
 From Christine Sine's blog by the same name “Godspace” at wordpress.com. Godspace is published by Barclay Press in Newberg, Oregon, 2006.
 David Field, “Approaching Theological Study,” in Keeping Your Balance, edited by Philip Duce and Daniel Strange (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press), pp. 22-27.