Thursday, November 09, 2006

He became vulnerable

In reviewing the chapter we covered last night in class (The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey), I stumbled across this paragraph:

The display of power in the midst of a storm helped convince the disciples that Jesus was unlike any other man. Yet it also hints at the depths of Incarnation. “God is vulnerable,” said the philosopher Jacques Maritain. Jesus had, after all, fallen asleep from sheer fatigue. Moreover, the Son of God was, but for this one instance of miracle, one of its victims; the creator of rain clouds was rained on, the maker of stars got hot and sweaty under the Palestine sun. Jesus subjected himself to natural laws even when, at some level, they went against his desires (“If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”). He would live, and die, by the rules of the earth. (p.91)
We’ve been focusing in this class on the humanness of Jesus. What was he like? His ministry? His personality? What would it have been like to have known him as a person? This paragraph, for me, however, draws the focus away from his humanity, and shines it on his divinity.

Think about it for just a minute. God. The maker of the universe. The God who set the stars in motion, who taught the ocean waves to land on the beach, and who started my heart beating, became vulnerable. He subjected himself to the same rules of nature that he had set into motion. How incredible is that?

What does that mean?

  • It means that he felt pain – in the carpenter’s shop, when the hammer slipped off the nail and smashed into his thumb, he knew pain. When the nails were hammered into his hand, he knew pain. He made himself vulnerable to US – to death on a cross, and yet he was God.
  • It means that when his earthly father died, perhaps when he was a teenager, he knew the immediate, close up pain of loss. And not only that, but he saw the effects of death on those close to him – widowhood for his mother, and what that meant in the time in which he lived.
  • It means he not only saw the result of poverty from the throne of God, but he felt it. He felt hunger, thirst, sleeplessness and illness. That vulnerability resulted in the invasion of germs, the pain of fever, maybe sea sicknesses and unhealed wounds.
We talk often about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. By no means do I intend to lesson the cost of that event, but I’ve never considered until now that the Incarnation was a sacrifice as well. The God of the universe, who stood in front of Job and reminded him of His majesty, decided that we were worth so much to him that he would become one of us, and take on all that that implies. Our humanity.

It also means to me that when we try to deny his humanity -- to lessen it -- that we are reducing the sacrifice that he made by becoming human in the first place.



Blogger John said...

I was reading Albert Outler yesterday say that modern evangelicism (1971) is monophysite, effectively stating that the divinity of Jesus overwhelmed his humanity. This, he attributed as an overreation to liberal tendencies to see Jesus as fully human and not divine at all.

4:55 PM  

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