I can’t get over the magnitude of the story. The highest king in the highest court robed in the highest glory looked out over his vast kingdom and saw a patch of darkness, an enclave of evil within his realm of light. Smoke rose from the spot, smoke from the fires that the king’s great enemy had stoked to destroy its inhabitants. They’d been enslaved, those inhabitants. And worse still, they’d been won over. Not only were they slaves. They were blind slaves fighting against liberation to remain beneath their cruel slave master.
He loved them, those now dwelling in darkness.
I can only imagine the emotions that welled up within the king as he beheld the spot. He’d hand fashioned the entire lot of them with the care of a master craftsman, with the creativity of a skilled artist, and with the precision of an expert engineer. He loved them, those now dwelling in darkness.
A clamor rose from the patch of darkness, groans at so much in justice, screams at unthinkable violence, cries at inconsolable pain. They weren’t meant to die, yet death had become so common some dared say that it was simply another part of life. And from the deepest parts of their souls, they lifted their voices to anyone—anyone at all—who might listen and ease their suffering.
And the king heard.
With the love of a father, the tenderness of a mother, and the sense of protection of an older brother, the king did something unthinkable. The king decided he’d plunge himself into the darkness, piercing it with his light, and defeat the slave master and his rule and the inhabitants’ rebellion. He’d win them back. He’d buy them back at great price. He’d redeem them from the hand of his enemy.
And if that wasn’t incredible enough, the way he planned to free the captives of darkness is almost incomprehensible—incomprehensible, that is, to anyone who’s never tasted love. Instead of conquering them with his angel armies or instead of commanding their wills with an omnipotent decree, he decided he’d go in himself. Alone. He’d don the very same weaknesses of his dearly beloved subjects and be born into a family—and a poor one at that—dwelling there under the shadow of darkness. He’d become like them to win them. He’d become weak to make them strong. He’d get low to lift them up. He’d trade his crown for a tattered hood, his scepter for a carpenter’s hammer, his robes of glory for patched and fading garments, his throne room for a stable, his angelic servants of light for demonic enemies of darkness, streets of gold for dusty back roads, the eternal courts of heaven for the corrupted courts of men, the warmth of the love of his father for the cold of the scorn of those who were utterly unable to understand him, the height of power for the depths of weakness, esteem for humility, imperviousness for susceptibility, eternal joy for the deepest of sorrows—and all of it voluntarily. Because he loved the ones he was seeking to save.
He knew loneliness as only the utterly abandoned know it.
And when he finally arrived beneath the veil of evil, just like all children he, too, cried out and ran to his parents’ side in the darkest watches night from the terrors that plagued his dreams. He knew what it was to be rejected by his peers, to feel the sting of bitter tears cascading down his face. He knew the pain of stomach viruses and debilitating bacterial infections. He felt the disgrace caused by the whispers that followed him wherever he went—rumors surrounding who his father really was, what kind of woman his mother must have been to have had him out of wedlock before she was married to the man who still dared to raise him as his son. He felt the full weight of the judgment in their eyes as they saw him but didn’t really see, such blindness being one of the reasons he’d come in the first place. He wept as loved ones suffered and died around him. He felt the full extent of the hypocrisy of the so-called religious elite as they schemed against him, the guilty laying traps for the innocent in hopes of maintaining the well kept exterior of their white-washed tombs. He felt the abuse of the multitudes who saw in him a free lunch, though he saw them and wept for them like sheep without a shepherd. He saw the shameless revelry of men too drunk to stand, men for whom he’d eventually give his life. He felt the humiliation and rage of betrayal at the hand of a man whom he called friend to the very end. He felt the tight grips of fingers that he had designed as they laid hold on him and carried him off to a clown court. He knew loneliness as only the utterly abandoned know it, when his friends—at least those whom he called friends—turned tail and ran at his most needed hour. He felt the injustice of fallacious charges piled on by bogus witnesses at the behest of corrupt lawyers and crooked politicians. He endured their taunting and their abuse and their beatings and their childish games.
And then, if that were not enough, he felt in his body what it was like to be beaten and whipped and pierced through with nails, left to die naked on the cross beams of a piece of wood he’d imagined in his omnipotent mind’s eye before the first tree was. And the king, the king who had dared take on flesh and dwell among the ones who’d for so long stood hopeless and helpless outside his kingdom of light, died. And in so doing, he broke the chains of many, declared them free, covered their evil deeds, acquitted them of all their crimes, reinstated their citizenship back into the eternal realm, gifted them with the pure white robes they’d need to enter, granted them membership into the royal family, and secured their fate as coheirs in a kingdom that will know no end.
It’s enough to take your breath away.
And right now, these nearly 2,000 years later, the very same king continues to look out over the smoldering outpost of the kingdom of darkness, and his arms are open wide to all who hear his call to come to him in hope.
It’s enough to take your breath away. It’s enough to make you want to worship.