Here and Now: Incarnation

I agree with Henri Nouwen that Jesus is the Gospel. [1]  He is the Good News.  This applies to every aspect of life and to every article of belief. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  The Incarnation is the peak of revelation.

So…in Jesus…we see the pinnacle of here-and-now living.  Today, I point out two illustrations.

The first is the fact that he spent 90% of his life in Nazareth.  This is quite amazing when put into the context of Jesus’ mission “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  At first glance, it would seem that Jesus would “get on with the program” as soon as possible.  But what we read instead is that he waited quite a while to launch his public ministry.

I use the word ‘public’ deliberately, for I have come to believe that his announcement in the synagogue at Nazareth was not the beginning of his ministry. He had been in ministry every day for a long time in Nazareth.  It was a here-and-now ministry that sanctified the ordinary.  Jesus did not start being holy when he hit the road.  He had been holy walking the city’s streets, honoring his parents, making friends, and plying a trade–all present-moment activities.  

The second illustration comes when we see Jesus’ willingness to alter his plans and pay attention to people around him: talking with the woman at the well, going to Zacchaeus’ house for lunch, blessing children, healing a blind man sitting by the side of the road, taking the opportunity to point out that a field ready to harvest was like the Kingdom of God, etc.

Everyday holiness.  It came so natural to him because it was the way he had lived his life as far back as he could remember…and…something you’d expect from the Son of the “I AM” God, Who is Love…the One through whom all things were made, and cared for all he made.

[1] Henri Nouwen, ‘Jesus: A Gospel’ (Orbis, 2002).

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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