Thoughts on a Centipede

“What are humans that you pay any attention to them at all?                                                                           Psalm 8:4 JNO

I sat in my study and looked at a miniscule centipede wandering across the floor, and wondered, “What is it thinking?” Then I thought how great the gap was between it and me, its brain and mine, and suddenly I was thinking about God and me. “Is this a tiny glimpse into the infinite gap between you and me?” What would it cost me to become a centipede? What did it cost the Second Person of the Trinity to become one of us? What did he have to give up? It was not merely his rightful glory, nor merely some of his attributes. No, if you will permit me to say it crudely, it was his “hugeness,” his immensity in every direction, to be condensed down to a tiny-ness in every dimension, condensed much farther down than it would be for me to be condensed down into the form of a centipede.

There is this, a this that must not be overlooked: the centipede and I are two different orders of being. Jesus and we are not different orders. We are made in the very image of God. We are of the same order as God! So Jesus did not need to cross some uncrossable boundary of being. But he did have to undergo an almost infinite diminishment of the capacities of that being. What amazing condescension!

Why did he, why would he, do it? I think of the little boy sitting on a curb watching a crowd of ants hard at work in a crack in the curbing. Clearly, they had a colony inside and they were industriously expanding it out through the crack. Then the boy heard a noise and looked up. A few hundred yards up the street a city maintenance crew was flushing out the fire hydrants, and a tidal wave of water was coming down the gutter. As quickly as he could the little boy picked up ants and put them up on the sidewalk. But the instant he let them go they scurried back down. More frantically he worked, but it was no use, he could only pick up his feet as the water rushed by and carried all the ants away. The boy thought for a moment and then said, “I guess the only way I could have saved them was to become an ant myself.” Yes, that’s what Jesus did, and in a far more profound way than this little illustration can portray. He became one of us.

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