December 13: What a Risk

This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.

Scripture passages: John 1, 3:16; Hebrews 9:26; I Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8

I have pondered the risk Father, Son, and Holy Spirit took by sending Jesus, the Son of God, to earth. When I think about it, I am amazed that any Father would risk so much with His own Son. I never liked to expose my children to risk. I remember feeling obligated to run to my daughter’s defense and protection.

When I tried to protect my sixteen-year-old son from risk, he finally told me, “Dad, I’m old enough to fight my own battles. Don’t try to fix it for me.”

Surely, my instinct to protect my own children is part of God’s image stamped on me in Creation. God made this way. But God’s likeness, imago dei, is diminished in me because I suffer under the curse of sin’s Fall. If I feel this God-given desire to protect my own, Father God must feel it all the more so. How could Loving Heavenly Father take such a risk with His only Son?

Life expectancy in the first century Roman world averaged twenty to thirty years. If one lived to age ten, life expectancy might extend to age 45! The average life span was lowered by a 25% or higher infant mortality. Nearly one-half of all babies born never saw their tenth birthday! Yet childbirth was the delivery system God chose to introduce the Savior of the world! What a risk!

God risked His Son being an inconvenience. Parentage by the Holy Spirit is a once in a Creation event! Father God had to perform repeat miracles and angelic announcements to convince even Mary and Joseph, the main players in the saga, of the veracity of such a miracle. Today, such a conception would be regarded as an inconvenience, and would be ended. What a risk!

God risked His Son being an embarrassment. Apart from angelic proclamation, Mary would have been irreversibly embarrassed, exploited, divorced, or even stoned to death. Her family would have suffered shame. Perhaps they did anyway. The boy Jesus would have suffered cruel shame and ridicule. Perhaps He did anyway. What a risk!

God risked His Son’s rejection. He placed a radical message of love in His Son’s heart, and His Creation killed Him for it. What a risk!

I don’t think I would be willing to risk my children like God risked His only Son, Jesus. I am humbled to think that God would take that sort of risk for me, for my sinful soul, for my salvation–all because He wants relationship with me.

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