I’ve been fascinated with him, ever since I picked up a book titled The Jesus I Never Knew. Philip Yancy writes frankly of his surprise at the contrast of the mild, almost timid Jesus he grew up being taught about to this suddenly bold, character who waltzed into the middle of comfortable Judaism, so sure of himself, arguably arrogant with his lofty claims, this daring rebel who defied tradition and spoke like he created the universe.
And it’s been argued for centuries who he really is – liar, lunatic, or the Lord he claimed to be.
Yet if he really was this – this person with the fullness of the mighty God all wrapped up in human flesh – what does this mean for us?
For the God of the universe to have visited this little planet…dare we grasp the gravity of its connotations?
Sometimes I forget. I walk blindly through my days, apathetic to the person of Jesus – who sweat agony in a silent garden – Very God humbled to submission. He took on all my guilt and shame and worries along with the rest of the worlds’ and how can I not fall humbled in adoration at the thought? I worry like it’s my right when the God of the universe suffered so deeply that I shouldn’t have to… I insist on carrying my own guilt like a punishment, on earning my way back into favor like His kind of love could possibly falter at a little thing like human weakness. He already knows. He knew in that moment when he felt every failure on his shoulders.
And he loved anyway. He died anyway.
Ann Voskamp once wrote of how we’re left wrung out when we try to climb rungs we weren’t meant to – as if we could reach God by our own efforts – because the task is kind of like dragging camel humps through needles’ eyes and we will never earn our way to goodness or happiness or fulfillment. Yet still we insist on trying. And God watches us with gentle eyes, always waited for us to give up – and give in to the Love that closes the distance between the weary heart and His own.
So I read this Jesus the Messiah: a Survey of the Life of Christ and even the tedious details cannot hide the wonder of a God who gave up splendor for human brokenness to break through our thick-skinned apathy to him.
Because we had grown tough. Humanity swallowed centuries of disappointment and hearts swelled heavy with the burden of religion, of blind repetition to redeem their constant failures. Continuously reminded of their shortcomings, they grew so heavy – jaded. Distant from a God whom they could never reach.
I prayed like that for years – throwing my prayers upward, figuring most times they bounced off the ceiling, but if I was faithful enough, fervent enough, they would be just strong enough to touch the gates of heaven and bounce weakly into the throne room.
And it wasn’t until reading Brother Lawrence that I suddenly knew in my spirit He was here right in front of me and behind me and beside me and inside me and no matter how quietly I whispered to this God of mine, it was as loud as could be because He was here, leaning into every word.
And this God wore His heart on His sleeve for hundreds of years, aching deep at generation after generation of rejection yet ever patient, waiting for that perfect time to send His biggest gift. The one He’d been saving…anticipating since the first breaking off in the first garden. His presence in human form – Immanuel. So we could touch Him and hear Him and know Him. So He could dwell with us and in us. So we could once more be like Him.
This is Salvation.
And this is the truth our souls ache to seek out, to explore the mystery of this God who once limited Himself so there would be no limit to knowing Him.