Monday, December 13, 2021

A Lowly Savior

My small group has been slowly (for the last year) reading through Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly. Some of you may have heard of it. But it’s surprising that a book based on Puritan writings about Christ would be so popular last year—it must have been the impact of living through a pandemic. Stretched thin by anxiety and worry, people have been drawn to the image of the tender heart of God.

In some ways, the book is a perfect book for Advent. If we call Jesus “gentle and lowly” we can’t help but acknowledge his earthly beginning from the depths of a manger.

Ortlund writes, “Although his ways are higher than our ways, the way in which his thoughts are higher than ours is that we do not realize just how low he delights to come” (p.162). He then quotes from Isaiah 57:

Thus says the one who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
I dwell in the high and holy place,
 and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive this heart of the contrite.

(Isaiah 57:15)
“Where is the heart of God, the unspeakably exalted one, naturally drawn, according to Isaiah?” He continues, “To the lowly. When Jesus showed up 700 years after Isaiah prophesied and revealed his deepest heart as ‘gentle and lowly,’ he was proving once and for all that gentle lowliness is indeed where God loves to dwell. It is what he does. It is who he is. His ways are not our ways.” (p. 162)

When I read this passage, it reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, Miracles:
“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down from humanity; down further still, if the embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But he goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.” (p. 173, 179)
Who are the lowly? We are. And why do we call Jesus lowly? Because he descended to lowliness to be with us. It is our very weakness and sinfulness that prompted the Lord of all the Universe to make a way; calling His own Son lowly so that He could bring us salvation for all eternity. That is love. Immanuel.

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