19 December 2014
Humility's crowning moment
A week away from Christmas, the shops are teaming with people, supermarkets are selling an abundance of turkey, mince pies and Brussel Sprouts, with 'methane belches' a regrettable yet inevitable consequence – though these are only newsworthy if they appear on the surface of Mars.
NASA's Curiosity rover has been busily analysing the Red Planet in recent years, eager to establish whether or not 'life on Mars' exists. Professor John Grotzinger had hailed the discovery of methane 'spikes' as the "crowning moment of 10 years of hard work." It is a finding that, according to Imperial College physicist Dr Foster, suggests that "life is no longer the sole preserve of the earth." It is a big discovery and has produced big statements.
Humanity has long-speculated about the possibility of life beyond earth, as one aspect of our desire to explore the mystery of the universe and question of our origins. It is a pursuit that seems to accelerate from one decade to the next. The most recent manifestations include the landing of probes on comets, test flights for Mars-bound spaceships, and more tragically, rockets exploding seconds into blast-off. Invariably, every new expedition will cost millions of pounds, and engage some of the world's brightest minds –each investing in the noble pursuit of the monumental discovery of historic importance that might forever change our perception of the world we inhabit.
Yet, despite the undeniably stimulating work of NASA and the elated faces of scientists, a greater mystery stands before us this Christmas: the pursuit of which is an adventure of unrivalled magnitude. We are again invited to consider how it came to be that He who holds the answers to the origins of the universe and determines the limits of organic life – indeed He who is the origin of all life – clothed himself with the very atoms He created to appear before us, looking like us. Of all the marvels that exist in the cosmos, Christ's incarnation towers above them all, alongside the atonement and the resurrection. In Christ's coming to earth, we see one of the most jaw-dropping and utterly outrageous events in time; humility's crowning moment.
And what's more, who should this epoch defining occasion be revealed to? What audience should be the worthy recipients of angelic host and the bearers of such priceless news? Simple Judean shepherds; "unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord," Luke 2:11. What are we to learn from such a discovery? What lessons of life, of our origins and of our creator? The incarnation profoundly reveals how passionately the God of the cosmos desires to be reconciled with his rebellious creation. Let's consider how Christ became like us so that we might become like him, for he knew sorrow that we might know joy, he knew shame that we might know glory, he knew suffering that we might know healing, he knew unrest that we might know peace.
Paul describes how Jesus "being found in human form, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" in Philippians 2:8. The beautiful one became the ugly one, so that ugly ones might become beautiful ones. "Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor," 2 Corinthians 8:9.
This Christmas let our hearts be warmed by remembering that in Christ we have God's greatest revelation to humanity, and that in Him we have both our true origin and glorious destiny.
Tim Blaber lead pastor of Christ Central Church, Portsmouth