Same Age as Jesus

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

For I have shown from the Scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the Scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man…. He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men;—all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him.

– Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.19.2

He was only 33.

Well, ish. Nobody really knows for sure exactly how old Jesus was when He gave up His life to save us. Tradition places Him in His early- to mid-thirties. There’s no reason to argue with that; it doesn’t matter how old He was when He died. What matters is that He did – and that He busted out of the tomb on that holiest and happiest of days.

He is faithful in all things. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell all those who call Him Lord, and so He does.

“…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

– John 14:26 (NKJV)

He will teach us all things. A process that never ends.

Therefore, I find myself pondering the life of Christ in a new way.

I find it very odd to be the same age (or roughly thereabouts) as Jesus was when He took up the rough-hewn cross. He is, of course, eternal. Always existing, never created. But His humanity, the mysterious Incarnation – it was cut so short. Only a few gray hairs would have peppered His head. His face would have been relatively unlined. His body would have been full of strength and energy.

As they say, the prime of life. For us sinners, this age often means that the mistakes of youth are past and the winding down of middle age is yet to come. Barring illness, this is the peak of physicality before the downward slide (because no matter how well you eat and how much you exercise, getting older is a thing that you just can’t escape).

This moment on His timeline, this box on His calendar – He chose to sacrifice Himself.

When we read these words –

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

– Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)

– we tend to focus on temptation as being exclusively tempted to bad. This is true. Yet consider that the Devil would have tempted Jesus with all the good and ordinary things that any man wants – a stable career, a loving marriage, children, a happy home life. I think of the men I know, those in their thirties, who want all these things. Who work for all these things. Who are full of plans and hope.

Jesus’ plan was to give hope by dying.

All the ordinary things He would have wanted, for His humanity was just as complete as yours and mine, lacking on the stain of sin. He set them aside. I certainly want comfort, security, rest. He lacked all of these things as He traveled about, inviting people into the embrace of Kingdom. He had no home. No income. No wife to smooth His furrowed brow. No children of His own to bounce on His knee.

An ordinary-looking man, as Isaiah wrote,

He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

– 53:2b (NKJV)

But nothing ordinary about Him at all.

I am moved by His sacrifice in a way I’ve never before experienced, a way that I can’t quite express. It makes me ache to know that the Infinite Lord of all creation, who holds everything together by the power of His sustaining word, experienced the cruel anguish of loneliness. Of painfully standing out in and remaining apart from the crowd. He did not have what any of His male contemporaries had. He did not embrace the women who followed Him as anything other than sisters. He had no possessions. No position.

Jesus wasn’t just tempted to sin. He had to have been tempted to set aside the plan and follow the path of family and friendship, the very path that most of us walk without question. No wonder He retreated so often to pray. The tomb of Lazarus and the ground of Gethsemane cannot have been the only places witness to His tears. How He must have missed the intimate, equal, happy fellowship of the Father and the Spirit! How it must have hurt to be separated from them, even if only in a limited way for a limited time.

For He, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, He humbled Himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death He died was the death of a common criminal.

– Philippians 2:6-8 (Phillips)

Utter obedience. Not just the obedience of the cross, an agony horrific enough itself. The obedience of daily, even momently, setting aside His human longings, showing us how to be fulfilled and content without any of the usual trappings.

What a marvel He is.

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When God Takes Your Isaac

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Gentle Reader,

The past couple of weeks have been intense. We are in the process of repainting the entire interior of our house. Everything is a wreck. Two of my coworkers went on vacation at the same time, so every day meant full-on running the second I hit the doors. Chris’ truck went what we feared was permanently belly-up (thankfully, it was just the starter). Then, Saturday morning, I hit and killed a puppy on my way to run a few errands.

Awful.

And underneath it all, I have been engaged in an intense struggle with God.

For some time now, I have been searching for my spot. My place, if you will. Most of the things that I have been involved with in my home church have turned out to be either entirely ill-fitting or what I perceive to be spectacular failures. I thought that I had a certain set of giftings and talents, but I was wrong. I’ll just summarize the whole messy story by saying that I never, ever, ever want to be in charge of a group of adults. Not ever again.

I want to be used by God and I want to be involved, so when the call went out for a glorified bouncer during the children’s Wednesday night Bible study, I figured, “Hey, I could do that.” Lack of my own children has not prohibited me from developing the “mom tone” or the “evil eye.” I have no problem telling kids to sit down and listen. Or shipping them off to their parents if they won’t. Plus, I find kids entertaining. And often much smarter than we adults.

This was meant to be a pit-stop of sorts while I figured out where God wanted me to be. I’ve never been the children’s ministry sort. Crafts are my enemy. Keeping track of snack allergies is exhausting. So, I thought that I’d sit back, lend a helping hand, and wait.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I pinch-taught the pre-K Sunday School class. There were no lesson materials available, so, as the ankle-biters prayed, I begged God for wisdom and His love. Taking a deep breath, I decided that we’d talk about the passage our pastor had preached on that morning.

God has a sense of humor, and it is often ironic.

The kids learned, based on Ephesians 4:7-11, that each person who becomes part of God’s family gets a present, and that this present is given to us so that we can work together and get along. (They also learned about Ephesus and the country of Turkey, which was absolutely hilarious to the under-6 crowd). They learned that even the smallest and youngest of Christians has a special thing that God enables her to do.

The next day, I’m crying. “God, I am so frustrated!” He just let me speak. I think that God simply waits for us to wail it out before getting into it with us. “I don’t know what I”m supposed to be doing!”

He asked me what I wanted. What I really wanted. Not with an audible voice, but with a strong impression upon my soul. I knew that He was asking me to reveal my motives. Not to Him, but to myself.

“I want to be known,” I whispered.

I have long labored under the belief that I have to prove myself worthy of being alive. One lie that the Enemy flings at me time and again, and I buy into, is that I’m not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not successful enough. I’m always in this never-ending race to show that I am, in fact, enough. As my logic goes, if I am enough, if I am actually supposed to be here, then I will be noticed. There will be comments. Applause. Some kind of notoriety.

I want to be known.

“I want you to give that up.”

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? This was one of those moments. God was telling me, commanding me, to give up my desire to be known.

My response? “I can’t do that.”

IN my quest for validation, being known has become the ultimate treasure. It is THE THING. If I am known, then I am enough. If I am known, then I am worthy.

He brought this up again at work. I escaped to the bathroom, the only place where a librarian can get some privacy. “I don’t know how to give this up,” I said in my heart. “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to start.”

God was asking me to lay my Isaac on the altar, only this sacrifice wasn’t going to be saved at the last minute. The Lord was going to kill this desire, this pride. “Is it enough for you to do things for My eyes only?”

How He breaks my heart! I wanted so much to answer in the affirmative, but we both knew that would be a lie.

I thought that I was volunteering to help with the kid’s class, but it turns out that I am there to learn. They don’t care if a lesson is polished. They don’t care if the teacher went to college or not. They don’t answer questions just to hear themselves speak. They respond out of a purity of heart that I am lacking – singing with gusto, enraged at the injustice of starving children, playing with abandon, longing for everyone to know and love the Lord. They don’t stress out about their spiritual gifts, or how and where they are serving, or if they witnessed to that person correctly. Any competition is entirely good-natured, and they always cheer each other on.

They just…are.

They know that God sees, and that His eyes are enough.

My journey to faith. (15)