A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house. (Mark 6:4)
The usual picture of conflict between Creator and created puts Proud Man versus God. Pride caused original sin. Pride leadeth to a fall. The most deadly infection a human being can contract is: too-big-for-his-britches disease.
Okay. But could it be that the problem with our sinful pride is not that it leads us to think too much of ourselves, but that it actually leads us to think too little of ourselves? Could it be that, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple, they sold themselves tragically short? That they under-estimated what God had in mind for them?
The people took offense at Jesus. “He speaks heavenly wisdom and works miracles! But isn’t he just a Galilean hillbilly like the rest of us? Where does he get off being so grand? Who does he think he is? God?”
The omnipotent One, infinitely above us: He suffered death as a man, so that we men could hope for heaven. The crucified is God. God made the earth His own native place; He made every home and hearth, every grimy street corner, every place where a human being can find him- or herself—He made them all his own house.
God grew up alongside other Galilean children. God had no-count cousins who some Nazarenes chose to avoid. God learned how to talk from a carpenter and a teenage girl. God got hungry and thirsty; His feet got dirty; He drank wine with irreputable people.
God chose to make Himself kin to us. He never stopped reigning supreme. He never stopped knowing everything and guiding everything to its fulfillment. The one thing the all-powerful Deity cannot do is to cease to be the all-powerful Deity. But the eternal and unchangeable took our human nature to Himself. God established Himself as someone Who had to spend some time every day cleaning His teeth.
So: Human pride. What prouder boast could we ever have than the truth? That God loved the world so much that he sent His only-begotten Son as a Galilean who sometimes ate tilapia?
Isn’t the greatest sin to say: “Oh, no. That couldn’t be?” To say: “Oh, no. Divine power and wisdom and strength could have no truck with scrubs like ourselves. We’re just a bunch of losers who fuss and bother over nothing for a few years. Then we pass into oblivion with all the dead algae and aardvarks. Don’t mind us. We really don’t amount to anything. There is no way that God could personally walk the earth, live and die, love with a human heart, and speak with our faltering stutters. No way. If God exists, He lives in heaven. We live alongside the worms. The twain shall never meet.” With sentiments such as these, many of our contemporaries take offense at the Gospel.
Fair enough. We might think that we live lives too ridiculous and boring for God to take a personal interest. But God does not think that. We might think that we are hardly worth falling in love with and dying for. But God thinks we are. We might think that the greatest success we could shoot for would be having our own reality show on the preferred cable network of our choice. But God has higher aspirations for us.
We look at the human race, and we see an altogether unmanageable mess. God looks at the human race and sees the perfect image of His undying heavenly glory: He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, Nazarene carpenter, scraggly-bearded rabbi—a man who doesn’t necessarily smell any better than any other man after sweating in the sun on a summer day. And yet He is the perfect image of the eternal God. Jesus Christ, the glory of God—and a man.
We are no strangers to God. We look familiar to the heavenly Father. We look like His beloved Son.
So let’s be humble enough to take pride in our brother Jesus, Who took naps like we do sometimes—the God of gods and Lord of lords. Let’s not be too stiff-necked to worship His sacred flesh, offered for our salvation—even though it is like our own (sometimes embarrassing) flesh. Let’s be humble enough to believe that God thinks that we are worth dying for.
And let’s measure our meaning of “human” by the reckoning of God. God never became an angel. The countless hosts of heavenly angels serve one Master, and that Master likes falafel sandwiches. To God, “human” means: the jewel of My crown.
God could have left us to wallow in nonsense all our lives and die unsung with nothing but darkness and devils to look forward to. But He thought we were too awesome for that.