Glory in Weakness
Wednesday of Advent 2
7 December 2016
God has glory in weakness. How different the God of Jesus Christ is from every other so-called god and lord. They all claim that their glory is in their power, external majesty, and temporal triumph. Islam claims that their so-called god desires to conquer the world by the sword. The God of Jesus Christ also desires victory over the world, but He has long ago accomplished that victory through His self-abasement in His incarnation, life, suffering, and death. His abasement is His victory over the world at the cross.
 
Despite the signs of weakness and death that mark His ministry there is more there than can be seen by human sight. This weak God is also Creator. The Child who wails, is sung into glory by the angelic host. The Child who wrapped in rags, receives the worship and obeisance of the Magi. A peasant girl gives birth to her first born Child and He is the Only-begotten Son of God. Under the signs of weakness hiding His glory is God of God come among poor sinners. Let us not then be disturbed, but encouraged, by the signs of weakness in Christ. For so He conquers.
 
In His weakness our weakness gains new meaning. St. John says of our faith, "This is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1Jn 5:4-5)? Our victory over the world comes out of His victory. Our faith stands well established in Christ alone. His lowliness so well portrayed to us in the humility of His birth of the Virgin becomes our lowliness; the lowliness of Immanuel, God with us. His weakness is His glory and ours.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"Lest fastidious minds are disturbed by cradle and wailing, birth and conception, we must render to God the glory which each of these contains, that we may approach His self-abasement with souls duly filled with His claim to reign, and not forget His majesty in His condescension. Let us note, therefore, who were attendant on His conception. An angel speaks to Zechariah. Fertility is given to the barren. The priest comes forth dumb from the place of incense. John bursts forth into speech while yet confined within his mother's womb. An angel blesses Mary and promises that she, a virgin, shall be the mother of the Son of God. Conscious of her virginity, she is distressed at this hard thing. The angel explains to her the mighty working of God, saying,'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you' (Lk 1:35). The Holy Spirit, descending from above, hallowed the Virgin's womb, and breathing therein (for the Spirit blows where He wishes [Jn 3:8]), joined Himself to the fleshly nature of man, and annexed by force and might that foreign domain. And, lest through weakness of the human structure failure should ensue, the power of the Most High overshadowed the Virgin, strengthening her feebleness in semblance of a cloud cast round her, that the shadow, which was the might of God, might fortify her bodily frame to receive the procreative power of the Spirit. Such is the glory of the conception.
 
"And now let us consider the glory that accompanies the birth, the wailing and the cradle. The angel tells Joseph that the Virgin shall bear a Son, and that Son shall be named Emmanuel, that is, 'God with us' (Mt 1:23). The Spirit foretells it through the prophet, the angel bears witness; He that is born is God with us. The light of a new star shines forth for the Magi; a heavenly sign escorts the Lord of heaven. An angel brings to the shepherds the news that Christ the Lord is born, the Savior of the world. A multitude of the heavenly host flock together to sing the praise of that childbirth; the rejoicing of the divine company proclaims the fulfillment of the mighty work. Then 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased' (Lk 2:14)is announced. And now the Magi come and worship Him wrapped in swaddling clothes; after a life devoted to mystic rites of vain philosophy they bow the knee before a Babe laid in His cradle. Thus the Magi stoop to reverence the infirmities of infancy. His cries are saluted by the heavenly joy of angels; the Spirit who inspired the prophet, the heralding angel, the light of the new star, all minister around Him. In such wise was it that the Holy Spirit's descent and the overshadowing power of the Most High brought Him to His birth. The inward reality is widely different from the outward appearance; the eye sees one thing, the soul another. A virgin bears; her child is of God. An infant wails; angels are heard in praise. There are coarse swaddling clothes; God is being worshiped. The glory of His majesty is not forfeited when He assumes the lowliness of flesh." 

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2.26-27
Hebrews 2:5-18

It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, "What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet." Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
 
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."
 
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.   (ESV)
Prayer
Dear Lord Christ, You who became weak that I might have your strength, grant me faith that I would not be offended by Your triumphant humility. Amen.
 
For Pastor Joseph Randrianasolo of Madagascar, who is a servant of the humble truth, 
that the Lord Jesus would bless and keep him
 
For the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, that the Lord would grant its members strength as they serve the church
 
For Jill Stoneburner, as she receives therapy for liver cancer, that her Lord would be with her as the triumphantly weak Lord, who gives the weak triumph
Art: VASARI, Giorgio  Annunciation ( 1564-67)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016