Dependent and Vulnerable

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Devotional Word for Thursday, June 25, 2020

One week ago today while I was brushing my teeth early in the morning my back went out. It was quite painful. I could not walk normally for several days. There was constant pain. Some sitting positions were good, some were not so good, and some were unbearable. Standing and walking was the worst. I found one of the best positions to be sitting where we video these morning devotions. The chair was comfortable, and when I got up I could tell it had been good for my back. There was some relief.

Why mention that today? Because six months from today will be Christmas Day. I assume you have thought about that since yesterday I mentioned we were six months out from Christmas Eve. Christmas is a celebration of God becoming man. What does that mean? What does that entail? It means that God became dependent and vulnerable, that is, God became human. Those two words – dependent and vulnerable – are an apt description of us.

Six months out from His birth, the Lord Jesus was weak and helpless. He was completely dependent on Mary for His food and for His protection. That’s true for all pre-born babies. Completely dependent; completely vulnerable. 

After Jesus was born it was no different. The guest room of the house in Bethlehem where Joseph and Mary were staying was filled with other relatives, so when it came time for His birth, you know what happened. The Shepherds came and found their way to Mary and Joseph , and the baby as He lay in the manger. [Luke 2:17] Think of this: the God of the entire universe, through Whom all things were made, is now a just-born human baby, and He’s lying in cow stall! In these days of hygienic hyper-consciousness, we stand appalled! Vulnerable indeed!

It gets worse. Not only is Jesus vulnerable to germs and viruses as He lay in the manger, but also to the paranoid homicidal actions of Herod the king. Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. [Matt. 2:13-14] We’re glad Joseph didn’t delay – he set out immediately for he knew how vulnerable his Son was. As a father, he was protecting his son, even as the Heavenly Father was protecting His Son by sending the angelic warning. 

Jesus’ entire life follows the pattern of dependent vulnerability. That does not mean that He was passive or inactive. It means He lived as a human, dependent on outside sources for strength: Jesus had to breath, He had to eat, He had to take fluids. He was not self-sufficient in and of Himself as a true man. We are the same.

Jesus also was vulnerable and relied on sources outside Himself for protection. We see this most clearly in the fact that Jesus was crucified, Jesus died, and Jesus was buried. That’s vulnerability. We are the same. I have an old friend who lives in Florida who usually listens to these devotions, he experienced this reality in recent days as his mother died. She, like all us humans, was finally, completely vulnerable. I’ll be leading a memorial service in just a couple of hours for another woman who was vulnerable and died. You know what? You and I are vulnerable too, and one day each of us will die.

So Christmas Day, six months from today, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. What do we celebrate: that God became a man to become the Bread of Life for us, the One who feeds us with eternal food and secures for us eternal safety and protection and blessing. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. We become so comfortable, so self-sufficient, that we forget we are dependent and vulnerable creatures.

My back is much better now. Praise God! But it – and all our maladies in life – is a reminder of our humanity. When we sit down to eat, do we give thanks for our food, do we thank God for the amazing digestive system He’s given us? Do we thank God for the air we breathe with each breath we take? Usually, no. That’s why a worthwhile exercise each day is to take time and reflect on God’s goodness to us. Two weeks ago I took my back for granted. Today, not so much! I want to end today with insightful words from Romans 14:7-9. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Let us pray: Lord God, thank You for sending Your Son in human flesh. Thank You Lord Jesus for experiencing and suffering the indignities common to man. You did so in order to deliver us from them. We know full deliverance only happens when we step from this life into life eternal, but thank You for all You provide for us in this life. May we live lives of deep gratitude to You, for You have given Yourself for us. Praise be to You and the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever ruling as the one, true, living God. Amen.