Hebrews 2:9-11 but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,
My great grandmother quilted, and not the way most people quilt today. She cut and sewed every single little square by hand. It was art. Each piece was her personal creation; her fingers bled from the effort. She was working on a quilt for me when she had a stroke. It was almost finished, and in her last communication she managed to get a friend of hers to understand that she needed help sewing on the border and finishing this quilt for me. It is my prize possession. It is displayed in my office where I can draw strength from having it nearby. The love and suffering that went into the creation of this quilt represent Mammaw’s life, her heart, her creative spirit, the sacrifices she made for her family, and her love for me. I treasure it and protect it.
God himself, in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth as a human. A fully flawed, mortal, suffering human. And it was only through the full human experience of pain and suffering that he could bring salvation. Seems strange that to be made Holy, one must suffer.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
But Jesus was taking on the salvation of the entire human race. His purpose on earth was to exchange Himself for the lives of every human being who had ever, or would ever live. In order to do that, he had to BECOME human. And to become fully human, is to be flawed, weak, mortal, broken. In order to save creation, to become one of us, He would need to suffer; it would have to get messy. For you see, if creation, construction, or change is to take place, it is often messy, painful, and even violent. A seed can only become food or a beautiful flower if the husk is violently broken open and the stem pushes through. A seed that stays perfect, intact in its current condition, will never be anything more than just a seed.
Jesus humbled Himself and suffered torture. He was separated from and forsaken by the Father on our account. Yet, He rose from that suffering victorious. He was perfected, completed in all that He was destined to be through the violent acts of salvation that he endured. And because of that, through that single sacrificial act, we sons and daughters are welcomed into our eternal destiny and home. We are set apart for God’s exclusive purpose and use because Christ separated us from our own destructive desires, and by literally and in every way becoming One of us, the Word made flesh, He made us the exclusive property of God, ready for His use.
As a result of His human suffering, Christ was made perfect to be our Savior. Not in spite of, but because of His suffering, He saved us.
He became cursed for men so that the curse could be removed. He had to be a man to do this. No other being could have done it. The angels couldn’t do it because angels do not die. What humility. The One worshipped by angels, was for a time, made lower than the angles so that he might save mankind. And in doing so, His righteousness is so perfect that we have become children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus. We most certainly were not born into this Grace, but through the amazing and merciful Grace of God, we have been born again, spiritually into the family of God. Through the violent, messy, flawed acts of creation found in the life of Jesus Christ, God as one of us, fully man, we as faulty, flawed human beings can have everlasting life.
This only happened because Christ not only became a suffering human, but he shared it. All the messiness of a flawed human life. Being different. Going against the establishment. Loving those whom others shunned. Being tempted. Questioning God and his plan. All of it! Not just the physical brokenness of His death, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual brokenness of a truly human life. Christ shared it all. He became a fully broken human, and shared it with everyone he encountered. He opened his arms and shared his life with everyone within his reach. It was because of his willingness to SHARE the broken life that He had been sent to live that people began to see a different way to live. They recognized themselves in His suffering. They identified with His flawed humanity. And because He was truly one of them, they began to see love.
The cross in the picture was given to me by a dear friend. It too has a place of honor in my office. Notice the cracked nature of the heart. For most, it represents Christ’s broken heart on the cross, but my friend Patti said it represented our own broken hearts. The cracks are the imperfections in our own lives, the flawed, brokenness of our mistakes and suffering. The cracks are necessary, because they are open spaces through which God can pour in His Grace and fill us with His love.
There is another quilt that I have had since my childhood that is very important to me. It doesn’t get displayed in my office because it is too tattered. I worry about moving it at all because every time I unfold it, more pieces of it fall off. It was made about 150 years ago by my great great great grandmother and her daughter, my great great grandmother, who is the mother of the woman who made that beautiful tulip quilt for me. It was made for use. It has been on many beds through many generations in my family. It has warmed many people in its long life. It was given to me by my own grandmother when I was a girl. I used it on my bed from the time I was six years old until my early adulthood. Its flaws and brokenness are what make it beautiful. In every tattered inch I see the lives it touched. My pink quilt is beautiful, but it has never been on a bed, never kept anyone warm on a cold night. Unlike this quilt which has shared its weakness, and in doing so, served its purpose.
God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to be one of us; fully human, flawed and broken, suffering. And in the sharing of that suffering, bought the salvation of every single human being that would ever live on this earth. God is still one of us, and as the flawed, broken, suffering human beings we are, we can spread the love of God simply by following Christ’s example and allowing our brokenness to make us Holy. Asking for God’s Grace to continually fill the cracked brokenness of our hearts so that we can then extend that Grace, God’s love, to everyone around us. Through us, flawed suffering humans, God can still be one of us.
This was first given as a sermon at the First United Methodist Church of Russellville AR.
All Biblical scriptures are NRSV version and taken from www.BibleGateway.com