[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Taylor Procyshen is currently going to school at the U of S. If you ask him, he will tell you that he is on the Van Wilder program.]
There’s an unspoken understanding for first-year players on a sports team. It’s called being a “rookie”. It’s a year-long initiation, where you “earn your stripes” in the league and on the team. You picked up pucks after practice, loaded up the bus for road trips, shared a seat with another rookie on the bus (Vets get their own seats), unloaded the bus once we got to the rink, ate last, got last dibs on what you would eat, were never allowed to “take the option” in optional practices, got fined a lot and could never appeal your fine, and under no circumstance could you talk back to a vet… ever.
It wasn’t that bad though, you just did your chores and bid your time, soon enough the year would pass and the following season you’d be a veteran. No longer would you have to do those “chores”, you could sit back and let the next crop of rock piles earn their stripes in the league. In my 7 years of playing hockey I’ve seen this happen year after year, but there is one thing I’ve never seen, and that was a veteran assuming the status of a rookie, cause that’s just dumb. You’ve paid your dues, earned your stripes, and now it’s time for someone else’s turn.
That’s a normal picture of how life goes, right? You’ve earned your status and you don’t give it up. But that’s not a normal picture of Christianity. In fact, the Gospel tells the exact opposite story. God gives up his status and becomes a man. I know we’ve heard this before, but I want you to understand the implications of this. In Isaiah 40 we get a view of what man is before God.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.”
Compared to God, you and I are like grasshoppers. Nothing more. Yet God becomes a man in the person of Jesus. He humbles himself to our level (grasshopper status). It would be an amazing story for God to become a human, but he goes even further, he lowers himself to be a baby, born in an animal’s shelter, where his first nap in a feeding trough. He lives in a peasant town, working a peasant job, living a peasant life for 30 years, and then dies a criminal’s death on a cross for you and me.
I find the reaction of Nathanael in the first chapter of John to be funny, honest, and eerily similar to mine. Phillip had just met Jesus while he was on his way to Galilee, Phillip finds Nathanael and tells him that this Jesus of Nazareth is the one Moses and the prophets wrote about! Nathanael hearing where Jesus grew up smugly retorts “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Yes, Nathanael, something can. His name is Jesus, the one with a humble birth, but a glorious return.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come, Let earth receive her King.