Sunday, 16 May 2010

Whatever Jesus Christ Was In His Earthly Life, The Father Is Eternally In Himself.

So, according to the previous post, how is John the Baptist's declaration that he should become less so Jesus can become greater, good news and an echo of the life of the Trinity?

It can be good news, because John is doing exactly the same thing he sees Jesus doing. It's not that Jesus does one thing and the rest of us do another. Yes he is our substitute, but he is also our pattern/example as he reveals the heart of God to us his image bearers.

The reason I say this is because I have often thought of Jesus as tolerating his Father's wish to become a frail, mortal human. That he felt a bit like Haman leading Mordecai round the city. (Great story, read it here.) That when he washed his disciples' feet, Jesus was inwardly saying to himself Just wait until I get resurrected, then you'll see me as I am and I'll get the glory I deserve, and I won't have to wash your smelly feet anymore!!

In other words, I fall into the trap of thinking that sacrifice is something God tolerates and does, rather than the natural overflow of who God is.

This is so important to get right. Jesus didn't tolerate his serving and suffering, his bleeding and dying, it was the natural overflow of his heart, which is that of a self-sacrificing and extravagant lover.

That's not to say that Jesus enjoyed the cross, he clearly endured it - and painfully so. But that endurance was not a Rambo style pain threshold test, after which he would say self-aggrandisingly "Look at me! I'm the man!" (Although let's be clear, he is the man!). It was a labour of love like the pain of child birth, knowing that when it was all over, anguish would give way to the joy of new birth, new life and new love!!

Jesus lived not to pursue his own agenda, but to honour his Father and to give life to the church. To put it in the words of John the Baptist, he made himself less so that others could be greater. Moreover, in this he is showing us the self-effacing heart of the unseen Father, which again is sacrificial love - hence the title of this post.

The pinnacle of God's glory is not some abstract brand of super-light-bulb brightness, but their self-effacing, other-centred, self-sacrificing love as demonstrated in their honouring of each other and in giving life to all those who believe in them. A pattern those who call themselves Christians are all called, like John the Baptist, to imitate.

Even now as the ascended reigning King of Glory, Jesus is still, in love, deferring his glory elsewhere. Can you think where?

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