As we take a leap into a new year of life, coming out of the Christmas season provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our sense of wonder in our journey with Jesus. Did the weeks of celebration of the birth of Jesus overwhelm you with a sense of mystery and awe? If not, let’s take a few moments to see if the reality of Immanuel can blow our minds. We can be assured that the weeks following His birth did the same for Mary and Joseph and the angels and shepherd, and Simeon and Anna. Let’s join their sense of awe so that it can overflow from us into the lives of the students we have the privilege to serve every day. Maybe by rekindling our sense of wonder we can kindle their childlike joy as well.
Immanuel. God with us. We have heard the phrase so many times that it tends to lose its ability to overwhelm us with the reality of the King of the universe taking on human flesh and walking among us. In mind blowing ways, Jesus was both fully God and fully man at the same time. We should pause here for a moment to ponder some questions about that reality.
Did Jesus have to learn how to walk and talk? If He was fully God (and He was), then the question is ridiculously and clearly answered “no.” If He was fully man, then it is simple to answer “yes.” But He was both.
Did Jesus have to learn He was the Messiah? Can you picture His mother sitting Him down at age four to explain to Him that He is God and created the universe. If He was fully God, He already knew. If He is fully man, He would have to have learned. So, which one is it?
Or what about His earthly father Joseph, taking Jesus into the carpentry shop at age eight and teaching Him to build. Did His dad ever correct His use of the hammer, to which Jesus said, ”Dad look around, I made the whole universe in one sentence, how did I do?”
As Max Lucado asks in his book God Came Near, “Mary, on a clear sky night did you ever ask Jesus to go count the stars with you, and succeed?”
WONDER OF WONDERS
God became flesh and walked among us. I know it is a story that we have heard over and over and over again, but we should work hard to not let familiarity rob us of the wonder of it all. (The band Hillsong highlights His majesty well in their song “Arrival.”) The Incarnation is a truth that is completely beyond our ability to explain or even comprehend. All we can do is agree with David’s attempt to describe the incredible presence of God in Psalm 139 when he says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it” (Psalm 139:6 NASB).
The Word of God paints and incredible picture of the Word of God becoming flesh. Toward the end of Jesus earthly ministry, Philip asked Him when He would show them the Father, Jesus’ answer is incredible. Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 NASB).
When you encountered Jesus you were in the presence of the fullness of God. He was and is fully God. He was also fully man and the Scripture tells us other brain rattling truths like “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people” (Like 2:52, NASB). If He was fully God how is that He could grow in wisdom? Well, because He was also fully man, of course. Even more, how is it that He could grow in favor with God?
Before finding Hebrews 5:8, I would have argued to my death that Jesus would not have had to learn obedience but, “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (NASB).
And what do we make of this familiar passage “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7, NASB). Of what did Jesus empty Himself when He left the throne to enter the womb? Apparently, at least two things: His omnipresence and even His omniscience.
Imagine for a moment how incredible it would have been for Jesus to have, for the first time in eternity, answered a question with the answer “I don’t know.” When asked about His return, He said “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36 NASB).
The upcoming Easter season provides another occasion for us to rekindle our wonder. Jesus is fully God and therefore, immortal. So, what exactly happened upon His death? He willingly gave up His immortal life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, making a way for us to reconciled to the Father. But death could not contain Him, and on the third day He rose again to life!
His mind-blowing love displayed in those moments should never be lost on us. Wonder of wonders, the God of the universe knows my name and invites me into a personal relationship with Him. WOAH!
As Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19 NASB; emphasis added). And somehow, I can know this love which surpasses knowledge. How does that work? You are indeed amazing, Lord!
Let’s consider for a moment the wonder of prayer. When I call on His name, the God of all Glory somehow gives me His undivided attention and knows my name and cares for me more deeply than I can comprehend. Oh, that my familiarity with prayer would not keep me from the wonder of it all.
And the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is beyond anything I can imagine. The fullness of the power of the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in each of us. “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11, NASB). If we could even for a moment wrap our minds around that reality, surely our lives would never be the same.
What a privilege we have to be a part of anything that the Living God is doing. And to get to join Him, filled with His Spirit, in loving students into loving Jesus every day. Christian schooling is a WONDER FULL calling, indeed.
About the Author
Dr. Todd R. Marrah is Superintendent of Tree of Life Christian Schools in Columbus, Ohio and Executive Pastor at Rock City Church. He sits on the board of the Columbus Dream Center and is board chair for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Dr. Marrah’s experience as a middle and high school teacher, a middle and high school principal, and school superintendent combined with over 30 years of pastoral ministry as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, preaching pastor, and executive pastor provides unique insights into issues facing education and the church. His research focused on the spiritual formation of middle and high school students. Dr. Marrah has the privilege of consulting with Christian schools and churches and frequently speaks on a variety of topics including board governance and leadership, strategic planning, spiritual formation, and Christian parenting.