by Jennifer Kennedy Dean
As I contemplate the incarnation, when “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14), I am enthralled by the stunning act of condescending love on display. We often use the word “condescending” in a negative sense, but the word simply means “come down (descend) to be with (con).”
“What must that moment have been like? When heaven’s great Treasure shed His kingly grandeur and donned mere clay, did the angels for a moment hold their breath and look on in astonishment? When He who was from the beginning took upon Himself the form of a servant, did the eternal realm halt—just for a heartbeat—and stand speechless with wonder?
“When the King of kings exchanged His majestic robes for swaddling clothes, surely it was the most beautiful, awe-inspiring moment in all eternity. On earth, it was a little-noticed event. A young peasant couple and a few poor shepherds were the only witnesses to an ordinary birth in an ordinary place at an ordinary time. No pomp or ceremony. No grand announcement to a waiting crowd. No dancing in the streets.
“In the heavens, that which looked ordinary from the earth was the spark for unparalleled celebration (Hebrews 1:6). It was something never before seen and never to be seen again—when the King became a servant.” (Pursuing the Christ, December 1)
Paul describes the great condescension in Philippians 2:6-11. Let me summarize it. Jesus, who was equal in every way to the Father, chose—for love’s sake—to lay aside His rightful position and His exalted station and condescend to us so that He could destroy that which held us captive and bring us into fellowship with Him. He “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7 NASB).
Of what did He empty Himself? What did He lay aside? He did not divest Himself of His nature as God. He has always been and will always be God. He laid aside His status, but not His nature. He gave up His authority and power as God and became obedient to and dependent on the Father. Not because He had to, but because He chose to. He chose to because that is the extent of His love for us. No other reason.
I have a little gaggle of grandchildren. They come about up to my knees. I don’t want my grandchildren to know my knees. I want them to know my face. So my grandchildren can know my face and look into my eyes, what will I have to do? I’ll have to kneel down; come down to them; seek out their faces so they can know my face. Love that comes down.
Because He wants us to know His face. He does not want to be a remote, distant deity. Rather, He wants to be face to face with us. “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.’” (Psalm 27:8, NASB) Why does He long for us to seek His face? Because face to face is the most intimate interaction. Words can express the mind, but it is the face that expresses the heart.
Because of the great condescension, we see “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV).
Adapted from Pursuing the Christ: Prayers for Christmastime by Jennifer Kennedy Dean Prayinglife.org