Summary: A brief message intended to serve as a transition from a choral concert of Advent music, featuring our children and youth choirs, to the Communion table.
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.”
Children bring things down. All sorts of things. Around our place we are learning that a ten-month-old can move very quickly and has a vice-like grasp. Things will come down if they are not moved beyond reach.
But children bring down more than things on the shelf. They bring adults down too. I mean a whole lot more than having to bend over to pick them up. I mean that they bring us down to basics, so that we cannot depend on our adult skills. When my grandchild is about to do something that would harm her, my carefully crafted philosophical arguments about why she really does not want to put her hand on a hot stove are of no value. I am reduced to monosyllables: “No, no. Hot, hot”. It’s humbling to discover that all of my language skills, honed by years of preaching, mean nothing to this child. She has brought me down. She has attacked my accomplishments.
That’s what children do. Children bring us down. They reduce strong men to bundles of fumbling thumbs, trying to change a diaper. They destroy mothers’ carefully coiffed hairdos, grabbing at stray wisps and pulling with all their might. They even melt grandfathers’ crusty facades, and make macho uncles sing nursery rhymes. Children bring things down.
When Mary learned that she was to be the mother of God’s anointed, her heart sang a song that reached into the depths and brought out special truth. When Mary learned that she was to care for the Ancient of Days, who would now be a tiny infant, instinctively she knew what this meant. She knew that her child would bring things down. And not only Joseph’s carpentry tools; and not only her own dignity and reputation. She knew that this child would bring down the powerful from their thrones.
You see, the world needed a savior. Someone who could reach us where we are and who could rescue us from the morass of sin into which we had plunged ourselves. Someone who could touch us right where we live, but who at the same time could bring us a vision of the love of God. The world needed a savior. But the only kind of savior that would be effective would be one who would come down among us, would choose to be where we are, living where we live and feeling what we feel. And then lifting us up to see the love of God. The only sort of savior that would work would be one who would come down among us, bring down the powers that oppress us, and then lift us up. In other words, a child. The only sort of savior that would work. For children bring things down.
And so this child was born, and grew; He grew in wisdom and in stature, in favor with God and in communion with humanity. For three and thirty years this child pitched His tent among us, full of grace and truth. And in this child we beheld the glory of the Father’s only son. He brought down the powerful. He brought down proud Pharisees from pious perches. He brought down snobbish Sadducees from self-serving stances. He brought down Zacchaeus, the tax collector, from his shame in the sycamore tree. He brought down the rich young ruler from his pitiful posturing. Down! He brought them all down.
So much so that one day they decided they would bring Him down. They determined to destroy this Jesus. They arrested Him, brought Him to trial, put a cross upon His shoulders. And then they threw Him on that cross against a gray eastern sky, and watched His blood drop down, watched His life flow out. They brought Him down, they thought. Oh, foolish they were – we were – for we were there when they crucified the Lord – foolish we were to think we could bring Him down.
But we did not reckon with the power of this child to bring down the powerful from their thrones. We did not see what He could do. What thirty-three years before had been soft and tender infant flesh was there on Calvary’s mountain torn and bleeding; but still He softly and tenderly called us and loved us. What at Bethlehem had been the promise of glory now seemed to be desolate and gory; but still He brought us down, brought us to our knees, He brought us to tears, brought us down from our illusions and our pride. He brought us all down.
Children bring things down. The Son of God brings down arrogance and pride, sin and sickness, for He has chosen to come down among us to live as we live and to feel all that we feel. They did not bring Him down; He chose to come down, for us and for our salvation. And therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should be brought down.