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Measuring My Days

The Coming of Jesus

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December 2007  Commentary on the Incarnation  Malcolm Muggeridge

 

The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous event in human history.   I say this as a Christian, recognizing, of course, that the coming into the world of a Mohammed or a Buddha must seem, in the eyes of a Moslem or Buddhist, of equal or even greater significance, and that had I been born in Mecca or Bangkok instead of in a south London suburb I might well have taken a different view….As it is, belonging to a civilization which began with the birth of Jesus some two thousand years ago, and reaching the conclusion – to me inescapable – that whatever is truly admirable in the achievements of the succeeding centuries, in art and literature, in music and architecture, in the quest for knowledge and in the pursuit of justice and brotherliness in human relations, derives from the same event, I cannot but see it as towering sublimely above all others.  I have to add, too, that over and above this, the revelation Jesus provided, in His teaching, and in the drama of His life, death, and Resurrection, of the true purpose and destination of our earthly existence, seems to me, even by comparison with other revelations, to be of unique value and everlasting validity.  The fact that I happen to have come into the world myself at a time when the revelation’s impetus in history gives every sign of being almost spent, and when Western man is inclined to reject and despise the inheritance it has brought him, only serves to make me more appreciative of it and awed by it.

            So the story of Jesus has to begin with the Incarnation; without it, there would be no story at all.  Plenty of great teachers, mystics, martyrs, and saints have made their appearance at different times in the world, and lived lives and spoken words full of grace and truth, for which we have every reason to be grateful.  Of none of them, however, has the claim been made, and accepted, that they were Incarnate God.  In the case of Jesus alone the belief has persisted that when He came into the world God deigned to take on the likeness of a man in order that thenceforth men might be encouraged to aspire after the likeness of God; reaching out from their mortality to His immortality, from their imperfection to His perfection.  It is written in the Old Testament that no man may see God and live; at the same time Kierkegaard points out, God cannot make Man His equal without transforming him into something more than Man.  The only solution was for God to become a Man., which He did through the Incarnation in the person of Jesus.  Thereby He set a window in the dark dungeon of the ego in which we all languish, letting in a light, providing a vista, and offering a way of release from the servitude of the flesh and the fury of the will into what St. Paul called the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

            This is what the Incarnation, realized in the birth of Jesus, and in the drama of His ministry, death, and Resurrection, was to signify…It is sublimely simple; a transcendental soap opera going on century after century and touching innumerable hearts; from some bleak, lonely soul seeking a hand to hold when all others have been withdrawn, to vast concourses of joyful believers singing their glorias, their kyries, their misereres.  There have been endless variations in the script, in the music, in the dialogue, but one thing remains constant  -- the central figure, Jesus…  The universe provides a stage; Jesus is the play

                    Malcolm Muggeridge

                    Jesus, The Man Who Lives

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