I am reading through the Gospel of Matthew currently and though it wasn’t a new idea, I was again struck by the completely unexpected nature of Jesus’ emergence into His earthly role. The Bible indicates that Jesus was (and is) God. Not a special man, or a super-human that God merely sent, but He was, in fact, God in the flesh. I suppose this may be merely pointing out the obvious, but if you were God how would you come to earth to save the world? Would you choose to orchestrate the circumstances first to be physically born? And what’s more would you choose to be born in a place where animals ate dinner? Would you choose to have a relatively normal childhood if you were God?
Looking further into the story produces even more strange choices that God made. Would you have chosen to have your divine ministry confirmed by a crazy, backwoods weirdo like John the Baptist? Would you have chosen, as God, to put your body into an intensely weakened state by not eating for forty days and then allow the master of temptation to have a go at you? Would you have chosen to be rejected, rebuked, and rebutted by flimsy-skinned, soft-handed religious types? Would you have chosen 12 best friends knowing that one of them would definitely stab you in the back? Would you have allowed the people you created to kill you? Knowing all that they would do, would you have chosen to save them anyway?
Jesus’ life is, from front to back, the most unexpected thing that the world has ever seen or heard of. There is not one mythological story that comes close to holding to the oddity of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection account that the Gospel writers present.
Two things come to mind here.
- First, this story is hardly a testament to good sense and the exercise and demonstration of divine power in the way that human logic and reason would suggest. In fact, the Apostle Paul actually says that the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are spiritually separated from it. But isn’t this how all true stories tend to go? We don’t find very many compelling true stories that are truly “writable” as fiction. True stories always have a sense of grittiness and realism that only seems to play out in real life. I say this to once again suggest that you can trust the Gospel writers in their attempts to relay the authentic truth of the life of Jesus. It’s cliche, but it fits, you just can’t make this stuff up.
- Second, as odd as the story of Jesus is, I draw great comfort from it because it is so much the story of my life (and yours if you think it through). Things happen in unexpected ways and through unexpected sources. I dare say that if we traced events in our life back, and looked at the circumstances that made them possible, we would find that there is a unique quality to these things. One relationship leads to another, which leads to a chance meeting, which leads to you being somewhere on a certain afternoon in a certain place and then 10 months later you’re married and talking about having a baby. There is an “authored” quality to our lives – this is true in both the thrilling and the sad storylines.
There is no reason to believe that because you are in a certain situation or circumstance that those things that are deep inside of you, those dreams and aspirations, have been lost. God chooses unexpected pathways to lead us to the places He has destined for us. And when we pray I believe that there is a kindred understanding that we find in the heart of Christ as we pray to see those things that we long for. Jesus, in His humanity, certainly would have looked out across the wilderness, after 20 days without food, and thought to Himself, “what in the world am I doing out here?” But, His intimate knowledge of the Father would have immediately answered, “walking the road Abba has prepared for Me.”
May we be diligent to be faithful where we are and, at the same time, know that we are being led in the direction God would have us go. May this encourage and sustain our minds, and remind and restore our hearts. Your future is not lost, it is secure in Him. As the NIV renders the famous verse from Proverbs 3, “He will make your paths straight.”