It is interesting to me that Jesus came into the world wrapped in swaddling clothes and his life ended wrapped in a pretend robe of purple. From the mere essentials of birth to the even less auspicious garb intending to mock the so-called “king of the Jews” his outward appearance gave every indication that this is no Messiah. Yet nothing could have been further from the truth.
We’ve heard it said, “clothes don’t make the man.” In a song by Keith Anderson, the chorus goes like this
Rips and stains
Shouldn’t tell you who I am
Cause sometimes angels hid their wings
An’ the Devil’s dressed like a lamb
Yeah, The Clothes Don’t Make The Man
We often judge people based on what we see. Even more fearful than that, we often judge people based on what they want us to see. We make determinations based on what the “evidence” tells us and many times the evidence can be wrong. Someone may seem outwardly confident but deep down they scream within their own loneliness. A person may seem gruff or harsh when in reality their inner person cries out to be approached and loved. Too often we make determinations based on what we see and not what we should feel. Legion, the madman chained to the city walls, struck fear in the hearts of many but Jesus saw his true person. He knew that what people saw was not who the man was. Like a dog whose bark is worse than its bite, the outbursts were nothing more than a cry of insecurity and a pleading for help.
Many times I find myself putting forth an “image” instead of opening my life to others. I display what I believe will keep me safe instead of opening myself up to new people and new things. I live within a certain confine that will sustain my desire for control. As a result, I miss much of what God is trying to tell me. I miss many of the joyful friendships God is attempting to bring my way. I squander opportunities because they may compel me to change, adjust, or even strip away my defense mechanisms.
When we look at the life of Christ, there is no such pretense. No outward display intended to mask either his identity or his mission. When Paul says “he emptied himself” (Phl 2:7) that is exactly what he did. He could have played the god card at any time, but that was not his mission. He became a man, a servant – one that would not invoke deity, but humanity; “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”