I’ve found myself reflecting on the humility of Christ this Lent. It seems that in every passage I’ve come across during the past few weeks, I find Him responding to the most trying and challenging situations with remarkable gentleness – a quietness of Spirit that, it seems, could come only from a place of genuine humility.
Take the “Road to Emmaus” account. After His resurrection, Jesus meets two of His disciples on their way to the town of Emmaus. Not recognizing Him, they ask, “Are you the only person around here who doesn’t know everything that’s been going on?!?”
He, of course, knows better than anyone each and every bitter detail of the horrors He has suffered. Yet His response? Well, he does not deliver, as I would have, the perfect mix of injured pride and biting sarcasm. Instead, with a gentleness and forebearance that is truly astonishing – I like to imagine He may have even had a good-humored twinkle in His eye – He asks… “What things?” Oh, the humility beneath that simple question!
Time and again, in places where I would have long ago lost patience and cut conversation short with something snarky or superior, He replies only with kindness. He willingly accepts painful misunderstanding, slander, betrayal, abuse, death.
But make no mistake: this is no timid weakness. This same Man, when mobbed by a detachment of soldiers at night, answers their hostile inquiries with another simple question: “Whom do you seek?” I would not have had such composure in the face of two hundred armed, torch-wielding soldiers.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they reply.
And at this – merely by His words – these muscular, highly-trained, fearless men are leveled. To the ground.
If the New Testament accounts are accurate and reliable – as bible historians generally accept them to be – then this must have been a Man of incredible poise and power, “flexing” (as it were) in a momentary display of His glory, before submitting to arrest and execution. Yet during this week leading up to Easter’s joyful resurrection, Christians the world over will remember with poignant grief and deep thankfulness a somewhat different sort of power – the power of His glory veiled. Emptied of all but Love, for us. He was, Isaiah tells us, “like a lamb led to the slaughter…so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgement he was taken away…”
Time and again He responds neither with timidity nor arrogance, but only love unfathomable – love that is angered by that which threatens the object of its affection; love that moves toward the hurting and painful places of life; love that seeks to make all things new and whole and beautiful. It’s so clear how far I am from living out this kind of love. How easily I am offended by small misunderstandings, my feathers ruffled at slight and momentary injustices, my ego injured when a patient laughs at my poor (and in truth, quite laughable) Nepali. How quick I am indeed to defend my own name, my own glory.
What a contrast to this beautiful Love incarnate, this Love that dwells among us and died for us, that we might be His. Love that knows the pain of utter rejection yet counted even that a worthy cost. And still He loves.
~ W. Williams ~