Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 2:5-9’
[28DEC2011] He Knows How Weak We Are
♦ Gospel -Matthew 2:13-23
Today was a day to remember the first martyrs of the Church, the holy innocents that were killed on the command of Herod who hoped to destroy the Messiah King Jesus. While reading this passage my mind began to wander thinking about the flight of Joseph and Mary to Egypt as they were ordered by the angel of the Lord who appeared to Joseph in a dream. I thought about the early years of Jesus and how he grew up from infant to toddler, toddler to little boy, adolescence, puberty, young manhood… and man.
My first thoughts about Jesus almost always consider his deity. It’s hard for me to naturally think of Jesus in the terms of “average joe.” The Bible gives me reason to believe that Jesus grew up similarly as would any other young man his age and in his culture. Philippians 2:5-9 reads that Jesus specifically “gave up his divine privileges, took the humble position of a slave and was born a human being…appearing in human form.” Isaiah writes: “he (Jesus) grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:2-4).
It’s hard for me to imagine Jesus falling down as he took his first steps. It’s hard for me to imagine that he was scolded and needed discipline by his parents, but I suppose he must have… how else might he have learned not to touch fire or other things like not to stand behind a donkey or put dirty things into his mouth like little kids might do. I like to think Jesus was this perfect specimen of a man, but that’s not how Isaiah portrays him. Isaiah describes him average at best, maybe even a little unpleasant to look upon considering “he was despised and rejected.” I wonder if his brothers and sisters knew of the scandal surrounding his birth; I wonder if they might have held him in contempt. The Gospel according to Mark recounts a scene where Jesus’ brothers and sisters proclaim him “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). It is hard for me to reconcile man-Jesus with God-Jesus. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I can’t imagine Jesus going through puberty, the awkwardness and physiological changes the body goes through during that life transition. I think about the normal weirdness of life that I’ve experienced and just can’t seem to imagine God experiencing these things, but the lessons and teaching about Christ Jesus, the Incarnation, seem to teach us that Jesus did experience the normalcy of growing up as an “average Joe” or average son of Joe as it were.
So, I was still thinking about these things…still wrestling with some way to organize them neatly in my head when I began to pray my way through Psalm 103.
1 Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children 18 of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
I’m very familiar with this Psalm and love to worship with words and heart filled with adoration as I linger over each line and verse. I am thankful and forever grateful as the mercies of my LORD are revealed in the promises and truth of this Psalm… I never get tired or bored singing these words and claiming them through faith as my own… But remember; I was still considering “average joe Jesus” when I entered into this Psalm of praise and worship.
The significance of sharing this reminder comes in realizing something new about verses eight through fourteen. All of the sudden as I was reading these, I was thinking about the Eternal characteristics of God and realizing that average joe Jesus was also the King of Eternal Creation, the Alpha and Omega, and although he set aside his divine nature for a season, he still was Sovereign and All-Knowing on both sides of that “dash” into linear time. Here’s what I’m saying… As awesome and glorious it is to read these verses, when I read “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust…” my eyes got hot and burning as tears welled up in them. I realized the reason he remembers we are dust is not just because he formed us from dust, but because he took on our “dust nature.” The compassion he exudes comes from experiencing the devastating nature of sin wrought upon his children. This is why he is “slow to anger” and why “he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.” Sure He is God and this is part of his nature, but the other “part” is that He is average joe Jesus; he was not the most handsome chap on the block…and might have been the last one picked for sides when the local kids were playing Hebrews & Philistines. He knows we are only dust, because he was dust too. He knows how fragile we are, because he was beaten, bruised, and died too. As incomprehensible and shrouded in mystery as this truth is, my faith and my adoring worship for my God and Savior Jesus soar to new heights with the tiny glimmer of understanding I received today in this reflection. I’ll hold on to it and I’ll savor it…and I’ll let the Holy Spirit take it and cement it to the walls of my heart. Amen.