Reflections: The Sixth Day of Christmas

Today’s Reading: Luke 2:33-40

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 58:1-59:3, 14-21; Luke 1:26-38

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Can God make a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it? If God can do anything, He can certainly make a rock that is exceedingly heavy. But if God can do anything He could lift it. We’re stuck. Either God can’t make the rock or He can’t lift it–and then God can no longer do anything.

But questions like this are from the devil. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7). It is not our place to tell God what He can or can’t do. It’s not our place to put God into a paradox from which He cannot escape.

God does the paradox His way.

Luke 2:40 reports one of the most paradoxical events the world has ever seen: “And the child grew and became strong.” This Child, who was also God, grew and became strong. This Child, the Lord of heaven and earth, who can move planets with His voice, grew and became strong. Presumably at some point before He became strong, He encountered a rock that He could not lift.

“Kenosis” is the term that describes how Jesus set aside His divine power in the Incarnation. It comes from the Greek word that means “to empty,” as it says in Philippians 2:6–7: “Though he was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” 

The irony is that by making Himself unable to lift the rock, the Son of God shows that He can indeed do anything–including suffering and dying for humanity’s sins. The Child Jesus grew and became strong, but His strength is measured in weakness. Likewise, the Child was filled with wisdom, but His wisdom is measured in foolishness. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). 

God could do anything (including making a rock so heavy that Jesus couldn’t lift it when He was a boy). But God chooses to do the Cross. The Cross is strength in weakness and wisdom in folly. But He does it. He does it for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Abide with richest blessings Among us, bounteous Lord; Let us in grace and wisdom Grow daily through Your Word. (“Abide, O Dearest Jesus” LSB 919, st.4)

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch