Before Jesus Met Mary

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will'” (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus knew the the hour was near. The cross was looming. The long anticipated time of transition was upon him.

So Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane. He takes Peter, James, and John along with him to a place of prayer. Jesus is troubled. Jesus is sorrowful. Overwhelmed with sorrow. Sorrowful to the point of death.

Jesus goes farther into the garden and prays. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

He returns to find the disciples sleeping. He asks them to watch and pray before withdrawing again for more conversation with God.

“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

He returns to find them sleeping again. He withdraws to pray a third time.

The same words flow from Jesus’ heart and mouth. “Father….”

____________________

As I ponder the emotions of Jesus in the shadow of the cross and the prayer that flowed from those emotions, I wonder about another occasion when Jesus was facing a transition.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Did Jesus have an emotional response before he “met” Mary — before his transition from heaven to Mary’s womb? Did Jesus talk to God about that transition?

I know about the emotions of Jesus in the hours before the cross. I know the words Jesus spoke in conversation with His Father.

I wonder about the emotions of Jesus in the hours before the conception. I would love to know of any words spoken in conversation to God.

Based on what you know of God…

What emotions do you think Jesus felt prior to “emptying Himself” and taking on flesh?

Do you think Jesus talked over this transition with God?

What would that conversation have been like?

**Thanks to Scott and Jack for sparking my imagination in pondering our great God.

Incarnational Ministry

This quote I received from John Stott has served to remind me of the need for today’s ministry efforts to be modeled after Jesus’ incarnation. We must not be satisfied with a church that is isolated and insulated from the world. It’s time for an incarnational invasion of the world.

“The Son of God did not stay in the safe immunity of his heaven, remote from human sin and tragedy. He actually entered our world. He emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve. He took our nature, lived our life, endured our temptations, experienced our sorrows, felt our hurts, bore our sins and died our death. He penetrated deeply into our humanness. He never stayed aloof from the people he might have been expected to avoid. He made friends with the dropouts of society. He even touched untouchables. He could not have become more one with us than he did. It was the total identification of love …

“Yet when Christ identified with us, he did not surrender or in any way alter his own identity. For in becoming one of us, he yet remained himself. He became human, but without ceasing to be God. Now he sends us into the world, as the Father sent him into the world. In other words, our mission is to be modelled on his. Indeed, all authentic mission is incarnational mission. It demands identification without loss of identity. It means entering other people’s worlds, as he entered ours, though without compromising our Christian convictions, values or standards.”

–John R. W. Stott in The Contemporary Christian, p. 357.

Incarnational Ministry

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).

I want my life to be like Jesus.

That means I am going to have to learn how to leave my comfort zone behind and sacrifice my wants. I need to enter the strange, confusing, and sometimes scary world outside the the bounds of where good church people feel comfortable.

Incarnational living. Incarnational ministry.

  • I want my life to be like Jesus, but I am so comfortable in good places.
  • I want my life to be like Jesus, but I am so comfortable with good people.
  • I want my life to be like Jesus, but I am so comfortable with good things.
  • I want my life to be like Jesus, but I am so comfortable playing it safe.

Jesus left heaven, came to earth, and took on a body of flesh and blood.

God,

Help me get out of my comfort zone.

Help me learn what incarnational living is all about.

In Jesus’ name,

AMEN.

Labor of Love

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
calloused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

from Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson

An Odd Sort of God

“From the human perspective, when you compare [God] to the other gods of the other religions in the world, you have to say our God is really sort of odd. He uses the most common of people, people that aren’t any different from any of us here; he comes in the most common of ways, when by his Spirit an anonymous young woman is found to be with child. And the strangest thing is that he comes at all—he’s not the Above-Us-God, too holy to come down. This God’s love is so immense that he wants to come down. And he has proven his love by the fact that he did come down and touch our ground.”
— James R. Van Tholen, Where All Hope Lies

Embodied

“The whole concept of God taking on a human shape, . . . had simply never made any sense to me. That was because, I realized one wonderful day, it was so simple. For people with bodies, important things like love have to be embodied. That’s all. God had to get embodied, or else people with bodies would never in a trillion years understand about love.”

–Jane Vonnegut Yarmolinsky
Angels without Wings: A Courageous Family’s Triumph Over Tragedy, p. 74