Friday, May 11, 2012

Boil to Rags, Part 5: Behold the Man (a devotional series by an orthodox rebel)

(See the first post in the series here.)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...." John 3:16

What can God give to man? What haven't the gods given to us already? Favor and apathy. Blessings and wrath. All arbitrary, all done before, and all very wearisome. By the noonday life of the Roman Empire, the world had grown weary of playing favorites with the gods. Their wills had grown old like the gods. They had altars aplenty. They had hedged every imaginable divine bet that they could find. So what of this one God? What could that Incomprehensible Dance give to comprehensible man? What could that Majestic Infinite give to the fallen finite? What was there to give that could outdo and outstrip all the false deities of the human mind and heart? Nothing less than Himself, for all that He gives is Himself, for there is nothing greater that can be given.

What offensive mystery is this? The incomprehensible becoming comprehensible. The infinite becoming finite. The Word becoming flesh. Many gods have made worlds, and many more have made men and walked amongst them, but only one has dared to play the man. Many gods scheme and plot and plan as though they were playing a game with mankind, but only one chose to play the game Himself and keep all the rules. He was born in blood and filth like us, raised by imperfect parents, lived in poverty under the heel of tyrants, and watched the dead formalism and religious hypocrisy of His people's faith. He tasted the bitterest cup that humanity has to offer: of sorrow and pain and death. Yes, the incomprehensible has comprehended death as intimately as we all will one day. Life more abundant was swallowed by the grave so that he might swallow it up in return. Let the world say what they will about this God, but let their lips be silent on this one point: we have not a High Priest who is untouched by our infirmities. God knows our frame and pities our frame because He made and has been our frame.

Yet this is only half of the gift, only part of what has been given. For though the Almighty God has played the man in every way, yet He has done what we cannot. In older times, holy men wrought miracles of all kinds by the power of God, even raising the dead. But none of these men could ever end death. When faced with that awful darkness, the last enemy before whom even Satan himself will succumb, all men have fallen. All men, save one. One who was like us and yet not like us. He was man, and He was God. And when Death killed the man, it found the God, and against that unrelenting Light and Life and Love pouring forth with ravenous splendor and strength, what else could Death do but die?

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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