O come, O come, thou Lord of might, who to thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
in ancient times didst give the law in cloud and majesty and awe.
“Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.”
Adonai, the lawgiver, is a mighty and awesome presence before his people on Mount Sinai. But what a contrast between that God who caused the mountain to tremble and smoke when he visited it, and his Son who willingly gave up his glory and might to be born a helpless baby to ordinary parents and in the most humble of circumstances. The truth of the gospel is full of contrasts and it is often easy for us to miss the depth those contrasts are meant to show us. There are times when it is easy for us to relate to the conquering God who brushes aside the enemies of his people with his powerful right arm–times when we feel threatened by the people and circumstances that seem about to overwhelm us. In those times, we are not so much drawn to Jesus as a baby who was completely reliant on the goodwill and care of his earthly parents, nor to him as a condemned man standing silent and humiliated before his accusers.
Advent is a time to consider Jesus as our God, willing to humble himself and lay down his vast glory. As we consider his humility, it is helpful for us to reflect on the words God inspired Paul to write in Colossians 3, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…” When we demand to be given what we believe we are due, or are unwilling to continue to walk through the trials we are called to face, we are acting in direct opposition to the life Jesus modeled for us–the life he calls his people to live. If we desire to bring honor to the one whom we follow, love, and celebrate, we do well to picture the quaking, smoking mountain…and then turn our gaze and our hearts to the baby in the lowly manger.
Father, we are deeply moved when we consider the height of Christ’s glory and the shocking humility demonstrated by his coming to earth. Help us to stand in awe of your glory and greatness and to rejoice in the unfathomable love demonstrated by Christ’s lowly birth and his unspeakable suffering and death, all for our benefit. Help us to respond in humble obedience with great joy.