A Needy Jesus
Today marks the Day of the Epiphany. While Christmas has come and gone, I’m still going to post about Christ’s incarnation, to continue the reflections on His coming after being reminded by fellow Two Cities bloggers about Epiphany (See King-Ho’s post on “Christmas Eve Beyond Christmas” and Tanner’s post on “Let Christmas Continue“).
For the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on Jamie’s post: “The Word Became Baby.” I’ve been thinking about how Jesus came into the world as a baby – small, fragile, weak, and needy. Needy? Jesus was needy? But isn’t he supposed to be all-powerful God, how could he be so needy? But if he was a baby, he must’ve been needy at one point – just like every other baby.
I’ve recently come to realize how much I hate admitting that I’m needy. It’s hard for me to ask for help. I dislike feeling my weakness, frailty, and limitations.There’s a strong part of me that has grown to become self-sufficient and independent, as I learned this from quite an early age. It’s a value in our American culture – striving to be independent in such a highly individualistic society. Compound that with growing up with the Asian-American immigrant mentality that as long as I work hard and buck it up on my own, it makes for a tendency (or neurosis) to overachieve towards perfectionism and workaholism to avoid feeling my own weakness and neediness. Yet, I need others. I need relationships. I can’t do this thing called life alone.
When Jesus says to come to him like a little child, dependent and willing, he invites us into this dependency with the reality that he too, was once a baby. He was an example of being needy and dependent. Jesus, the Son of God, was wholly dependent on the Father. It’s comforting to know that Jesus, fully entered humanity, as He became a humble baby, and understands our neediness from His own experience of neediness. He grew and developed, just like any other human person.
In thinking about babies and dependency, I’ve also thought about this reality as I watch my one-year-old nephew grow and discover the world around him. On Christmas Eve, with the rest of my family, I got to witness him take his first walking steps. It was such a great joy to all of us to see him take his first steps. I think about how Jesus also grew and took his first walking steps at one point in time, and how much it must’ve been a joy for Mary and Joseph to watch him walk. I also think about how much joy it must’ve also been for God the Father to watch His Son grow and develop.
As a student of spiritual formation and growth in myself and others, I often think about the slow-going process of growth. I’m sometimes frustrated with how slow this process is, often in myself, and I wonder how many times will it be before I really learn the same lesson, as the same struggles seem to persist. But knowing that Christ understands this slow-going process of growth, as He Himself entered into it, is a comforting truth. He could’ve come down fully grown, displaying His full power and strength, but instead, He chose to come down as an infant, and go through the normal processes of growth as “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).