The Irony of the Incarnation

Holiday travel time is upon us.  Chances are at one point or another in the next month or so you will travel somewhere for an extended period of time.  I know how it is with traveling.  Packing is the worst part.  As my family has grown through the years, it has gotten rather ridiculous.  How many pairs of pants do you need for a 4 day trip?  Another tube of toothpaste?  How much cash on hand?  Contingency bedding?  There’s barely room for the children!

In Matthew 10, Jesus sent his disciples out two by two to declare the kingdom of heaven.  He sent them with nothing.  Seriously.  Nothing.  Here’s what he said.

“Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”  Matthew 10:9-14

Here’s the irony.  These apostles had tremendous treasure for these people, and yet they came as beggars.  They came needing the help of the very people they came to love and save.  The irony only thickens when we see that those who refused to help the disciples were also not helped by them.

Wait.  Is that how it’s supposed to be?  We’re the ones with the Gospel!  We’re the ones with the message of salvation!  We love and care and serve our neighbor, not the other way around.    We certainly don’t see Jesus getting handouts.  Or do we?  Let’s get some perspective here.  Jesus is God in the flesh, the Incarnation.  God created everything and has all power over it.  God wanted to come and save his sinful creation, so God became a baby.  Babies don’t come out fully clothed and able to buy their own food.  Babies can’t talk and tell you what they need.  Babies can’t even clean up after themselves!  Babies die without the care of others, preferably their parents.

Jesus needed us.  It’s not just that.  He chose to need us.  The God of the universe truly needs no one, but in order to save his fallen creation, he chose to come below us to lift us up.  He chose to need us just as we need him.  But why?  Why would the Almighty God choose to need us?  I think he was showing us something about what we lost when sin came into the world.  Sin is selfishness. Sin is pride.  Sin is a reliance upon self that doesn’t need God… or anyone else if we can help it.  But God made a world of intricate interconnectedness.  God made rain to need evaporation and evaporation to need rain.   God made your finger to need your arm and your arm to need your finger.  In the same way, you need me and I need you and we all need God.

The Savior of the world needed his diaper changed.  The bearers of the Kingdom of Heaven needed a place to stay.  We bear the true meaning of Christmas in a world that has intentional amnesia about the incarnation.  Yes, they need Jesus.  But how will we approach them?  As holier than thou, or in humility and mutuality, as Jesus did?

Leave a Comment