The Disabled God
We often hear about the spirit of Christmas. But what is that? Is it the essence of love, giving, and goodness? Is it the cherishing of peace and goodwill toward men? All of those things are certainly true but this season I have been pondering the incarnation in light of Philippians 2:5-8
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
What was it like for the Almighty Creator to give up all the rights and honor due His position—all of his power, omniscience and glory—to become a helpless baby? In human terms (and in order to wrap my brain around it) I think it must have been a little bit like the troublesome decline of Christopher Reeve. He was an actor who, in 1978, played the part of a super-human in the movie Superman. This role propelled him into the limelight. But years later he was tragically thrown from a horse and left a quadriplegic. For the rest of his life he was forced to serve the cruel limits of his disability, being confined to a wheelchair without the use of his limbs, and even needing a machine to help him breathe properly. In spite of these limitations, he went on to live a very productive life using his notoriety to advocate for others with spinal cord injuries.
Jesus, on the other hand, willingly surrendered His rightful and glorious God-ness. He literally crippled Himself to live among us in our brokenness as one of us. The eternal God was stuffed into a tiny infant’s body encumbered by skin and bones and became subject to the very limits of the time and space He created. In this weak and vulnerable state, He then entrusted Himself to the care and keeping of sinners. An imperfect mother and father were assigned to Him; to mold and shape His early development according to the Law of Moses. This was God’s plan for our redemption. It boggles my mind.
Jesus grew up through all the various stages of human development—as a toddler, an adolescent and into single manhood—(with all the difficulties that accompany each phase: terrible two's and raging hormones) living, not for Himself, but humbly and in accordance with the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. He fulfilled the Law and the prophets with His virgin birth, perfect obedience, His unjust death and glorious resurrection.
In humble obedience, Jesus was willing to do the unthinkable for the love of God and His plan for humanity. With complete trust, no matter the cost to Himself, he said, "Yes!" to whatever the Father asked of Him. Would it mean suffering, danger, death? Yes. So what does it mean for me? Well, the attitude of the Savior who came as the babe in a manger is the example for all New Covenant believers. He is what new creation life looks like. So, His is the attitude that I am to have as I follow after God. "Thy will be done, whatever that is, Lord—even if it means suffering, danger and death." This is the true spirit of Christmas.
Mild He lay His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to this newborn King!