Stew on This: A Memorable Christmas Sermon Illustration (Jesus and the Happy Dog)
Written By: Glenn C. Stewart
God became man so we could understand him. He “condensed” His deity into a form we could make sense of. Origen, a church leader and scholar in the third century used this analogy. He told of a village with a huge statue – so immense you couldn’t see exactly what it was supposed to represent. Finally, someone miniaturized the statue so you could see the person it honored. Origen said, “That is what God did in His Son.” Jesus is the self-miniaturization of God, the visible image of the invisible God.1
Our daughter once had a dog named Phoenix. By nature he was attracted to people and when visitors arrived, he loved to greet them. His desire was to jump up and lick their faces. It was his way of connecting with people, of getting to know them. But he was small. So, when he wanted to greet me, he tried to jump up and reach my face, but he could only get to about my waist. He would try and try and try again. And then he would give up and walk away. But sometimes I would get down on all fours to come down to his level and He loved it. He jumped on me, licked me, and didn’t want to stop.
In a sense, that’s what God did for us. Within us is this desire to know God, to connect with Him, to feel at home with Him. So, we try to get up to God. We do certain things, thinking they will get us connected. Or we seek certain kinds of experiences that will give us the feeling of God. But we never seem to really connect. Well, in Jesus Christ, God has come down to us. He’s gotten on our level so we can know Him.
Mary thought carefully and deeply about this amazing reality – God clothing Himself with humanity so we could know Him up close and personal. He stepped down from the magnificence of Heaven to the messiness of Earth; emptying Himself of the unlimited privileges of deity and accepting the limitations of humanity. God exchanged the worship and adoration of angels for the lowliness of a stable birth, the obscurity of human life, and the rejection and mistreatment of those He came to release from the bondage of their own failure to be who God created them to be.
Here’s how the apostle Paul expressed this amazing humbling of Jesus.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich,” (2 Corinthians 8:9, KJV).
This doesn’t mean rich in dollars, but rich in life. The meaning is not rich in the temporal and temporary, but rich in the eternal; not rich in the material, but rich in the spiritual. The verse refers to richness in the core qualities of life: love, joy, peace, and hope.
This holiday season we have so much to be thankful for as we reflect on the meaning of Chrismas and what God did for us. The LifeEquip team wishes you a very Merry Christmas!
- Dale Bruner, theologian, from “Is Jesus Inclusive or Exclusive?” Theology, News, and Notesof Fuller Seminary (Oct. 1999), p.4