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Hebrews 2:5-9 – NT

02.01.2011

Philippians 2:5-11

When we covered this book late last year, I promised a future micro-analysis of Philippians.  This is not me coming through on that promise.  I’m kicking the can down the road (at least into 2012, it would seem).

But this beautiful, deep hymn of Christology seems to be the essence of CS Lewis’ argument in ‘The Grand Miracle’ that the gospel trajectory — descent and ascent, death and rebirth — corresponds with and gives meaning to the similar pattern found in all of life.

The mighty fullness and beauty of an oak tree gets condensed into a tiny acorn, which falls from aloft it its parent’s branches and then descends beneath the soil before sprouting and growing into a full and beautiful oak.  Thus it is with the grains and fruits that we eat; their seeds must go down before they can grow up and become new life.  The entirety of a human life, indeed, becomes condensed into a union of two cells, one hardly visible to the naked eye and the other microscopic, before growing into a new person with the image of God.

So it is with Christ, as Paul so beautifully puts it here.  He is divine but descends to the size and strength of an embryo, holy but in communion with sinners, exalted but condemned to die an accursed death, God but forsaken of God, down, down, down, down, and then up, up, up, up, redeemer, risen, messiah, Lord.

I’ll defer to Lewis himself to explain what it means that this pattern is echoed so universally in life*:

Supposing you had before you a manuscript of some great work, either a symphony or a novel.  There then comes to you a person, saying, ‘Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel.  The text is incomplete without it.  I have got the missing passage which is really the centre of the whole work.’  The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reacted on the whole of the rest of the work.  If it constantly brought out new meanings from the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you would decide that it was authentic.  On the other hand, if it failed to do that, then, however attractive it was in itself, you would reject it.

Lewis goes on to compare this trajectory of down and then up again in victory with the image of a man stooping to pick up a large load.  He bends** and disappears beneath the load, squatting to get his weight and strength under it.  He then slowly rises, now holding the load aloft above his head.

I see in this image an illustration of Christ.  Humanity was heavy in its sin and inertia.  Christ bends low, humbles Himself and stoops at our feet, before rising again with us on His shoulders, lifted out of the mire and to new, unknown, and unreachable heights, exalted with Him, sharing in His triumph and glory.

————

* You’d think that it would be best to defer to Lewis’ own words whenever I’m trying to convey something I learned from him (like in the preceding paragraphs of this very post).  You’d be right.

** At the knees!

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