When you say Incarnation think humiliation.
The Infinite One clothed himself in dust. The Mighty One wrapped himself in weakness.
I don’t like to be humbled. I want to be honored. Have you ever been in a meeting and someone says, “I want to honor someone this morning. I know he wouldn’t want me to say these things about him, but…” and you’re thinking, say my name! Say my name!” Sadly I’ve thought that.
Once a number of my friends and I went golfing on a rainy day. I’m not a golfer – I went to hang out with my buddies. I did terribly all day. I think my friends quit keeping my score on the second hole. By the last hole I was exasperated. I said, “I’m going to smash this ball as hard as I can. It’s going the whole way to the hole in one stroke.”
I ratcheted the club back farther and farther, discs in my back popping. Then I swung. The club hummed louder and louder as it cut through the air, finally breaking the sound barrier. Then the head of the club plowed into the turf a full foot in front of the ball, launching a basketball-sized divot into the atmosphere. The powerful torque generated by my aborted swing sent my feet arcing into the air. I hung there suspended between heaven and earth for a full minute, then came crashing down in the wet grass on my back, my arms and legs flailing like a tipped cow. My friends erupted into wild shrieks of laughter, squealing like stuck pigs. “I wish I had a video camera,” one howled, “I’d be $10,000 richer.” Any vestiges of pride, honor and dignity that I had were stripped away in one humiliating moment. But any humiliation I’ve experienced is nothing compared to Christ’s.
Christ’s humiliation was infinite.
Christ’s humiliation is vastly different from any we experience. When we’re humbled, we really don’t have all that far to fall. If I became a garden slug, it wouldn’t compare to Christ’s humiliation because he was infinitely exalted above all his creation.
Christ’s humiliation was willing.
I don’t gravitate toward humiliation. I don’t wake up saying, “I hope something humiliating happens to me today.” Jesus chose humiliation because it was his Father’s will. In Hebrews 10:7 Jesus says, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”
The Father’s will was for Jesus to take on flesh and be subject to human parents. The Father’s will was for Jesus to be misunderstood, mocked and rejected. The Father’s will was to crush Jesus (Is 53:10). Jesus delighted in all his Father’s will. He said “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Php 2.7-8).
Christ took on a human body subject to hunger, thirst, and weariness. He readily embraced the whip, the crown of thorns, the nails, and the wrath of God. He didn’t run the other way like Jonah. He didn’t try to excuse himself like Moses. He didn’t try to protect himself like Peter. He was eager and willing to be humiliated.
I want to imitate Christ.
I want to willingly take on lowly tasks for the Lord. I want to eagerly serve when it’s inconvenient. If Christ willingly humbled himself, I want to willingly humble myself for him.
Originally posted Dec. 19, 2007