As the priest stood on the dock waiting for the ship that would start him on his journey home, he wrung his hands nervously. As he did so he looked down at his hand and noticed some mysterious white spots. There was numbness, too. Almost immediately he know what was happening to his body. He had contracted leprosy!
With that disease he knew he would not be allowed to board the ship. No one ever got off the island with leprosy. So he trudged back up the hill. As word spread across the island that Father Damien had leprosy people began to gather outside his little hut. They understood his pain, the fear, and the uncertainly about the future.
The following Sunday the priest found hundreds of people gathered at the chapel. He stood and spoke to them saying, “My fellow lepers….”(1)
There was another minister who came to a people that were sick and dying without hope. St. Paul wrote about Him saying this Man, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the very highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11)
In a world that constantly asks the question, “What’s in it for me?” we find the attitude and spirit of Christ to be a radical departure from the norm. The self-serving spirit of the age permeates the minds and hearts of people both inside the church as well as outside. “What’s in it for me?” is at the heart of our culture–with commercials constantly telling us, “You deserve it. You owe it to yourself. Should be looking out for number ONE!”
When we hear the story of Jesus we are touched by His example. He had it all. He was the Divine Son of God. The full resources of Heaven were at His disposal. He participated in all of Creation. Power and majesty and…well, you name it. He had it all.
At the same time He saw the wreckage of humanity, lost and dying in the misery of unmanageable sin. And so He willingly humbled Himself to be born as an innocent, human baby. Never once do you hear Him demand, “What’s in it for me?” Never once does Jesus insist on His rights. Never does He even suggest that He deserved better than what He got.
No, Jesus was the impeccable perfection of humility, and because of that we have access to His love and salvation for our souls. He has come to us and said, “My fellow humans….”
1. Additional material adapted from the following source: Hewett, James S. (1988). Illustrations Unlimited. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, IL. P. 327.