Genesis 3:16 In pain you shall bring forth children.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Imagine we have no concept of Jesus. If you were to hear amidst the chaos of our world, the wars, the greed, the tragedies, that God was going to send us a savior, how would you dream up such a person?
If I were to think of who could be a savior, it is hard for me to not imagine a character close to Superman. Superman was not actually human, which is why he was really strong, could fly, lasers came from his eyes, had heightened senses of vision and hearing, had super speed, and he could breathe on stuff and it would either freeze or be like large gusts of wind. Any challenge on earth that Superman would need to face, he would have the strength and ability to overcome it for the greater good.
It’s natural for us to think that the coming savior of the world would be a superhuman adult who would magically appear and be the strongest force on the planet with the ability to be at anyone’s aid in a very short amount of time.
Yet, that’s not how God chose to display Himself on earth through Jesus.
Jesus was born from a virgin teenager next to the livestock. His mother, Mary, was in a precarious circumstance. This was an era of our humanity where two of the leading causes of death were harsh winters and childbirth. We see the depiction of a young woman lacking shelter from the elements, in what many moms I know would say is an event in which they would want to have the most privacy. She experienced the pains of childbirth with no epidural or medication, no comfortable hospital-reclined bed, no cheer section in the waiting room. Not to mention the social climate. She was engaged and pregnant, claiming that it wasn’t her betrothed’s, Joseph’s, baby, and she also claimed that she was still a virgin. Let alone that the king had sent a search party for her son to kill him, but was unsuccessful, and so he sent to kill all male children that were 2 or under in Bethlehem.
Nothing about Jesus’ birth was safe or glorious. It was meek at best.
What does this say of our God who would choose our Savior to be born given these circumstances?
We often think that we as Christ followers are following a pathway of a superhuman – one who was invincible, or dare I say invulnerable. We challenge ourselves to have the strength to defeat our own sin, to be wise through our collective knowledge of morality and politics and economies, to become so “good” or self-sufficient that we might have no need for God.
Could God not have made His son manifest as an adult Jesus? Sure. But then we would deny his humanity and thus our ability to be like Christ or at least relate to him. It is in fact Jesus’ chosen vulnerability that we see a display of a meek human, empowered by the Holy Spirit that shows us that we, too, are to live as ones who are meek and in need of the Holy Spirit in us. And I know some of you may be thinking, ‘Ok, but Jesus wasn’t really that meek – look at all of the miracles he did.’ You mean the greatest miracle that he ever accomplished?
Jesus died. There was no sacrificial ram like the moment before the thrust of Abraham’s dagger into his only son Isaac. There was no chariot of fire like with Elijah as he went up to heaven in a whirlwind. They didn’t say he died of natural causes or of old age in his obituary. Jesus died a slow, painful death in public display, naked and alone in his mid-thirties, enacted by the government and set into motion by his own religious community with no proof of guilt for anything close to breaking the law.
What does this say about our God who would choose the pinnacle of His strength to be shown through the meekest form of our humanity: death?
If we are to be followers of Christ, we are to seek to understand how to be like Jesus: human and meek. This image of Christ is not the superman-savior. The image of Christ on display during advent is the Savior of the world via baby in a precarious circumstance. We should not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but we should empty ourselves, taking the form of a servant, and humbling ourselves by becoming obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. That’s how Jesus lived out his life being born in the likeness of men.
Here are some reflection questions:
How have you experienced God through human vulnerability?
Have you talked to God about death being a meek quality of our humanity? What does He say about His connection and relationship to you given that weakness?
What impossibilities exist in your life today that you can talk to God about turning into possibilities of being more aware of His presence?