My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family:
Humility is the practice of emptying oneself of self-centeredness and sin, and being at the service of God and humans who have been created in God’s image and likeness. Our best example of humility is Jesus who emptied Himself of His divinity, took upon Himself our sin, washed us clean in His blood, and brought us into His Father’s embrace. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it eloquently, “For our sakes God made him who did not know sin, to be sin, so that in him we might become the very holiness of God.” Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1: 1-17 suggests tainted blood lines. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, Jacob’s son (Genesis 38). Tamar carried twins, Perez and Zerah, and Judah, Tamar’s father-in-law, was their father. Jesus descended from Perez and therefore had incest in His gene-pool. Rahab, the prostitute, was spared by Joshua because she hid the two Hebrew spies sent by him (Joshua 6:25). Rahab was married to Salmon and they had Boaz who was Jesus’ ancestor. Boaz married Ruth, a Gentile woman, and together they had Obed, Jesus’ ancestor (Ruth, chapter 4).
Jesus’ conception was rife with kenotic experiences as well. Joseph was deeply disturbed when he first heard that his betrothed was with child, and that the child was not his. In the eyes of Jewish Law, Joseph had the power to have Mary stoned. Instead, Joseph chose to divorce her quietly. The Holy Spirit made the impossible happen. Joseph changed his mind after he was visited by an angel: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
Another kenotic experience for the family is the unusual circumstances of Jesus’ birth. Jesus was seeking fellowship with the despised and sinful of humankind, symbolized by the shepherds. Jesus identified Himself with them in calling Himself the Good Shepherd. They were the lost sheep and He was there to find them. They were the first ones to be invited. The Presentation in the temple veils the divinity and sovereignty of the Son of God, now become flesh as a human baby. Mary and Joseph were there to fulfill their covenant obligation with God by offering Him their first-begotten son. Simeon was led to Mary and Joseph and took the child in his arms. After blessing God, he prophesied that Jesus was destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel. He would be a sign that would be contradicted, and Mary’s heart would be pierced.
Similarly, the flight into Egypt leaves Mary and Joseph with much anxiety and uncertainty. They have to make a hasty and desperate retreat from the vicinity of Jerusalem into Egypt (Matthew 2:13). Matthew tells us that Jesus’ return to Israel was in fulfillment of a prophecy made by Hosea 11: 1: “When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son.” For Hosea, Israel began its existence with the Exodus event when God entered into a covenant relationship with His people. In the new Exodus event, Jesus will establish us in a new and everlasting covenant with God through His crucifixion and death. The Teacher invites the disciple into their own self-emptying. In covenant living, one lives completely for the other. Jesus did this for us, and is inviting us to do the same for others. The way of covenant life is the way of the cross, the way of humility. God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!