During some of our recent Advent readings I’ve had some great reminders of how God shows HImself in fractals.
You know what fractals are, right? Fractals are essentially self-similar repeating patterns whether you view them from far off or extremely close-up. They are all over the place in nature. They are where math and art meet.
As we read the Bible I just keep hearing so many repeating themes.
I thought about Mary being a picture of both the first creation and the Christian as a new creation. The Spirit of the Lord overshadowed her and mysteriously, where there was no life, there was life. In the beginning we hear that “The Spirit hovered over the face of the deep.” And God brought forth life. As a picture of the new creations we become in Christ, we, like Mary, cannot accomplish our own salvation.
We are empty until the Spirit breathes new life into us and we become, by His power, a vessel in which the Spirit dwells. We simply must trust and then move forward in obedience. Our first act of obedience… praise, just as Mary praised God for what He was going to do in and through her. She showed us how to believe, how to be a vessel for God’s glory. I think of being pregnant… once you become pregnant, you are suddenly not only your own and you know it. You are carrying something amazing… life. You are being used for a glorious purpose — a new person grows within you.
Mary submitted to having her body used in this way for God’s glory and for her own salvation. She willingly, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, laid her own life down to serve her Baby Savior. She considered her life, even her body, as God’s tool for His plan.
Is this not how we are to live in regards to Christ’s indwelling presence in us?
Similarly, I thought of Joseph and his relationship to Jesus. He and Mary were really the first two Christians. Confused, frightened at what this invasion of their plans might mean, afraid of what people might think if he took this little Savior as his very own. How easy is it for us to be afraid to trust in God when our reputations are at stake? What will people think of us? They might think we’re crazy if we tell them we have met the Lord and now everything is changed.
And yet, He trusted. He obeyed. He took Mary. He claimed… adopted Jesus as his own son. He humbled himself to this massive change of plans, this monumental change of direction, where the son is greater than the Father. Can I take Jesus this way? Can I submit my will to His glory though it means, I must decrease that He might increase? I must because He has pulled a tiny corner back so that I might see a glimpse of heaven… he has opened my eyes to His glory and is breaking my fear of man that I might be changed, unafraid to go wherever He leads even when it is the opposite way from my comfort zone.
Then I thought of how Jesus so inherently understands adoption. In the past we always called Joseph Jesus’s “earthly father” or his “step father.” Neither of these would really be wrong, I suppose. Nothing bad about either of those names but Joseph… he was really Jesus’ adopted Dad. When he awoke from that vision and obeyed the Angel of the Lord, taking Mary as his wife despite all appearances of misconduct, he essentially signed Jesus’ adoption papers. He claimed him as his own. Jesus knows what it is to be adopted and raised by a man from whom He did not directly descend by blood.
And moreover, Jesus understands the hardest part about being adopted, the feeling of having been rejected by a parent, the one to whom we instinctively cling. While not all children of adoption will struggle with this feeling, many will on some level. Jesus, on the cross, was forsaken by His Father. His Father, for our sakes and in order that we might be called children of God, rejected His one and only son. He was Abraham. Jesus was Isaac. We are Ishmael. Only the knife… it did come down on Jesus, the promised child. And it looked like the promise was broken and hope of an heir, ended. But just as Abraham knew that Isaac would be raised from the dead if he were to bring that knife all the way down and through that tender body, Jesus was raised from the dead, though He had been pierced through by the will of His Father. For not only would He be an heir after all but we, the far off ones, the rejected ones… Ishmaels really, were brought back and made full heirs along with Him through our adoption as sons. After his resurrection He was no longer a one and only son… He was The firstborn from among the dead. He became our older brother. Easter… is Christmas.