And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
- Philippians 2:8
You could look at Jesus’ death on a cross and come away thinking that what you’re seeing is a display of weakness. Jesus is found in human form. He’s obedient even to the point of death. And he dies in a humiliating way.
The vulnerability of Jesus is an essential element in what CS Lewis called “the scandal of Christianity.” God with human frailty shatters our presuppositions of what God must be like. Jesus redefines the meaning of the word “God” for us, bending and shaping it into his own image.
But there’s another thing you can see if you look closely at Jesus’ death on the cross. Here you see the awesome strength of God.
Laying down his experience of omnipresence and taking on a human form, fully accepting the real limits of our human bodies and brains, Jesus doesn’t respond with claustrophobic panic. He doesn’t claw at the fabric of the universe until release from his physical body in a flash of light. Instead he inhabits that body and lives a fulfilled life, transforming human weakness into something beautiful, the way stained glass is beautiful or a baby’s fingers are beautiful or an old friendship is beautiful.
He needed tremendous strength to stoop down and join us. He needed terrific strength to remain obedient up to the point of death. He needed terrible strength to die on a cross. Serving always requires strength.
God has given you strength as well. A particular toughness. A resolve. Grit. We know it because he calls you (and each and every one of us) to have the same servant-mindset that Jesus embodied. He’s called you to be a servant. And he always prepares and resources those he calls.
In what ways have you seen God giving you strength to serve? Do any stories or situations come to mind? Reflect for a few minutes and then thank God for his work in your life wherever you see it.