“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not
one thing came into being…And the Word became flesh
and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory
as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-3a, 14
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the whole world loves a lover. Surely then, the whole world would love SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard’s story about love, “The King and the Maiden“. It’s about a king who was like no other king. Other kings trembled before him and his power to crush any who dared oppose him. But the heart of this great king melted for love of a peasant maiden who lived in a poor village in his kingdom.
There was a problem, however. How would he declare his love for the humble maiden? How would he ever win her love? He felt his kingliness restrained him. Yes, he might have her escorted in procession to the palace, place a crown on her head, and bedeck her in jewels and royal robes. But how would he know that she really loved him? How would he know that she loved him, and not the splendors of palace life? At this point in the story Kierkegaard spells out the king’s dilemma:
“He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.” (Parables of Kierkegaard, ed. `Thomas Oden)
Convinced he could not elevate the humble maiden without crushing her freedom, the mighty king determined to descend to her. He then entered her village, not with royal escort, mounted guard and banners flying, but as a beggar in rags. It was no mere disguise because he had taken on a new identity. He had renounced his throne to prove his love and win her.
Kierkegaard explained that his story was really about God and His love for us. It was about God laying aside the glories of heaven to cross the divine-human divide to live among us. He renounced the throne to be born in the little village of Bethlehem, work as a peasant carpenter, submit to rejection, and die on a cross, taking the world’s suffering as His own. And why? Because He loves us! And He longs for us to love Him!
This great love story is made plain in today’s Scripture: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” He who was God and with God, by whom all things were made, descended to us! “That God Almighty should become so little, poor and helpless, all for our sake,while remaining who he eternally is as God, was an act of indescribable majesty and power beyond anything that unaided human reason could grasp.” (Thomas Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith)
In the Word’s descent to us, His glory was manifested: “we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” My west Texas born father might have translated that, “His glory was the spittin’ image of His Father, full of grace and truth!” In seeing Jesus the world sees the glory of God, “full of grace and truth.”
There is a remarkable Old Testament passage in which Moses asks God, “Show me your glory, I pray” (Exodus 33:18). In response to Moses’ request God replies: “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19). Jesus’ glory revealed to us is precisely God’s glory revealed to Moses: gracious and merciful.
The King of Heaven did not remain aloof from us, but descended to us, humbling Himself to prove His love for us, longing to win our love in return. He came manifesting the glory of God, “the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the Word, the Articulation of the Father’s gracious heart towards us! Bible scholar William Barclay describes the glory of God revealed in Jesus:
“When Jesus came to this earth men saw the wonder of God, and the wonder was love. They saw that God’s glory and God’s love were one and the same. The glory of God is not that of a despotic eastern tyrant, but the splendor of love before which we fall not in abject terror but lost in wonder, love and praise.” (William Barclay, John: Daily Study Bible)
Jesus is the King like no other kings. He could have commanded our love and our submission, but instead humbled Himself to become one with us; though unequal, He wanted us to love as His equal. We have seen the brilliance of His glory, “full of grace and truth.”
- Why did Jesus humble Himself to win my love, rather than overwhelmingme with His power and majesty?
- Why does Jesus want me to love Him?
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
For a moment hold your PALMS DOWN in a symbolic gesture of letting go to God your worries for the day, the busyness of the season, and expectations of the way the holidays ought to be. Release all of these concerns to God.
Next, hold your PALMS UP as a symbolic gesture of receiving God’s gifts, provision, and guidance for today.