I woke up to news of yet another murder in our city. A man had killed his girlfriend and stuffed her body into an unlocked car in another city. Drunken people in our city got into cars, drove them at reckless speeds, crashed into others, and killed innocent people. These were all someone’s children.
Recently, a video appeared on Twitter showing the reconciliation of one of the families separated at the border. The small children no longer recognized their parents and would not go to them. The mother and father wept with broken hearts. I can’t even imagine their pain.
Human trafficking occurs all around us, but we don’t often recognize it, because the traffickers have learned ways to blend in. They openly traffic for abuse and sexual harm the runaway minors they have snared and the people they have captured at our borders and enslaved – horrific realities.
Our world is often ugly. It’s sometimes difficult to see the beauty, because our media focuses on the awful darkness hidden away in our corners. It’s often unbearable.
This is why the beauty of Jesus so astonishes our hearts, moving us to tears. Who would want to leave the comforts of an existence with the Father for all eternity and come down here, right in the middle of our vulgar mess, to be born a human being and to live with all the discomforts and horrors we face each day?
But doubly, who would want to leave that blissful state to take on the intentional mission of dying a gruesome and tortuous death and voluntarily paying for the sins of us all?
Neither of these are an assignment any of us would choose.
C.S. Lewis wrote some eloquent words about this:
“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down;…down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature he has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.”
“But supposing God became man—suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person—then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God . . .But we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man, that is the sense in which He pays our debt and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.”
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
“How thankful I am that when God became a man He did not choose to become a man of iron nerves that would not have helped weaklings like you and me nearly so much.”We cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man, that is the sense in which He pays our debt and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all. CS Lewis Click To Tweet
Today I pondered a discussion recorded in Isaiah that occurred between the Father and the Son before time began. Here we see glimmers of the wonder that was to occur when Christ appeared.
Then I compared this discussion to the fulfillment detailed in Philippians 2. To better comprehend all that God had promised and then had done, I printed the texts side by side. Then I drew lines to connect the prophecy with the fulfillment described in the New Testament passage.
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This simple act of drawing lines from the prophesy to the fulfillment was a great blessing to me as I saw the foreknowledge and deliberation that went into Jesus’ sacrifice. I know it will bless you, too.
Together, these two passages show us what Jesus’ motives were as he lived and died and rose. We also see clearly that he knew, submitted to, and embraced the mission to save us, regardless of the pain, discomfort, and defilement of ugly human existence.
Jesus, though he had existed eternally in the form of God, didn’t hold onto that reality to use it for his own advantage.
Instead, he looked after our interests and not his own. He counted us as more significant than himself, and in agreement with and submission to the Father, he became a man, emptying himself to be born a human and obediently to die a gruesome death, even one on a cross.
Thank God for such a Savior who came into such a fallen world to save us! What would we do without him? He’s our only hope!
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The C.S. Lewis quotes were obtained here and have this origin: The Quotable Lewis, pp. 327-332. Excerpts taken from Perelandra, The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, Miracles, Mere Christianity, Letters of C.S. Lewis, and The Last Battle.
The depth of the realization that we can’t share in His dying if He didn’t die. Wow. I can sit in wonder over Jesus’s choices for hours and hours. What an amazing God we serve…even in the face of such pain and struggles in our world!
The wonder of being in Isaiah studying is that his thought processes were revealed before he even came to die. I’d never dug deeply into the Servant psalms before until this last year, and the revelations about him and his whys have been incredible. The Word of God grows richer and richer the deeper we dig!
Such powerful imagery in this post, Melinda, and unfortunate that it is our everyday depravity. But thank you for pointing us to Jesus who came willingly to free us from our sinful fate. I didn’t draw the lines, but I imagined them as I pondered what Jesus willingly endured and what it means for us.
The freebie is a one page. If you’re a visual learner you’ll like it. If not, as appears is the case, you’re already there! I’m visual, so those sorts of things help me. Isn’t Jesus amazing! It’s truly astounding what he did for us!
Melinda, your words are so inspiring! You helped me pause and see anew the depths of who Christ is and the depths of His sacrificial love for us. Your words make my heart soar. By highlighting the stark contrast between the ugliness of our world and the beauty of Christ’s incredible love for us, from before time began, I am in awe once again of this whole thing. May our faith in and love for Jesus continue to unfold in one beautiful layer after another! May we keep mining the unsearchable riches of His Word. Thank you for your powerful ministry!
Amen! That contrast is so stunning! The fact that he understands our depravity even more fully than we do, because of the contrast with his white blazing holiness, sets his love in even starker contrast. I feel like my life’s journey is to grow in deeper awareness of his love and to be transformed by it into the woman he has always intended me to be – all available through his written Word and the work of his Spirit! Thanks for your uplifting comment, Melissa!
Another powerful, powerful post , Melinda. “This is why the beauty of Jesus so astonishes our hearts, moving us to tears. Who would want to leave the comforts of an existence with the Father for all eternity and come down here, right in the middle of our vulgar mess, to be born a human being and to live with all the discomforts and horrors we face each day?”
May we remind ourselves of this very fact each day. Jesus emptied himself to offer us fullness through the abundant life He gives. Not abundance in possessions, but possessing the most important parts of life…grace, peace, mercy, so on, and even Jesus himself!
His love is astonishing! I so agree, Karen. Thank you for your kind words!
Such a moving post Melinda. I love the contrast between the ugliness we see around us daily and the beauty of Christ and how He gave up everything for us. He left the perfection of heaven to come to the evilness of our world. Thank you Jesus.
Thanks for your kind comment, Yvonne! He is truly beautiful! I so agree.
Thanks for sharing. Your blog post reminded me of the fact that Christianity and Christ is the reason for our hope and the reason why we can spread the faith and be the light even when it’s dark around us.
The beauty of Christ is that all that He did was without any plan for own gains.
He’s really THE model of helping others, isn’t he. The model for serving others shows/showed in all his actions!
He sure is, Melinda!
Good post, Melinda. “The son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” What a powerful thought!
I really appreciate the work you did to put prophecy of the OT next to the NT fulfillment. I’ve been interested in this over the last year or so, seeing the appearances of Jesus in the OT and seeing the wonderful foreshadowing of God’s Son throughout the pre-Christian era. It shows me that God is the author, and that his plan for us is beyond my capability of imagining. In a broken world, that’s a comforting thought.
I agree, Chip. Studying these prophesies and how they’re expressed in Isaiah in particular has been incredibly faith strengthening. The book is so revelatory. It’s no wonder the apostles and other writers of the New Testament quoted it more than any other Scripture. The best defenses of the Trinity at the Council of Nicea came from this book from the northern Africans who were the legacy of the Ethiopian eunuch and his evangelization of his homeland after being instructed in Isaiah by Philip.
Wonderful post. Human trafficking is heartbreaking, but the love of Jesus is breathtaking.
Amen to that!
What a great post, Melinda. A beautiful picture of Christ suffering for us. And the tying together of Old and New Testaments.
It truly is amazing isn’t it! The depths of God’s Word can barely be plumbed before our time is up on earth and we get to behold all of his splendor face to face!
Beautiful and powerful post! There’s a song called “Grace to Grace” that reminds us of the truth that Jesus does not take us from “bad to good” but from “Death to life!” I also love C.S. Lewis and the magnitude of creativity he shared in his writing. Thank you for this post, so many great thoughts!!
That’s a powerful distinction you shared: not “bad to good” but “dead to alive.” Great point! Thank you for stopping by to comment, Nicci!
It’s so mind-boggling to even consider what Jesus has done for us. That fact the the God of the universe condescended Himself to become one of us to experience pain and torture and sin for us is beyond my thinking. Although there is horrible injustice ion the world, God truly cares and will have the last word.
That’s so true, Scott! Thanks for commenting. Nice to meet you!
Hi Melinda – I often think about this…that God – GOD chose to leave Heaven, descend to earth, live among us in dirt and dung and experience the full human experience – temptation, anxiety and even prayer fervently prayed that didn’t get the answer He hoped – all to connect, relate and redeem us. Humanity and me that gets it so wrong. It’s a love so big I can’t comprehend it – amazing grace. Wonderful post.
Great point, Liz! I think that prayer in the Garden, the not my will but thine be done prayer, is the most essential of all the prayers, as far as we’re concerned. My opinion. Here’s why: Of course, all of Jesus’ prayers are significant and revelatory and divine. None of his prayers are less than the other. All are crucial. But that one ministers most to us. It models relationship with God for us. That is the posture of submission and yielding we must assume in all our prayers. AND that prayer demonstrates God’s will – the purchasing of US being of such importance to God that he would sacrifice his own Son. That’s love I can only barely even begin to comprehend. Great, deep thoughts you have, Liz! Thank you for commenting!
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You amaze me, Melinda!
Thank you, Melissa! I feel the same about you, dear sister!