Why The Trail?
People leave the comforts of home to sleep in a tent on the ground, accumulate blisters, eat lightweight, but somewhat uninteresting foods, and endure a list of other inconveniences Trail life includes. However, the comradery of new found friends, breathtaking views, and the accomplishment of a thru-hike, are among the trade-offs which lure people to the backcountry each Spring.
At this special Season one has cause to ponder the departure of the Son of God from the comforts and glories of heaven, for a cold night in a manger filled with hay, in a barn smelling of animals, all to begin a life in which He was largely misunderstood, and ultimately subjected to the most cruel injustice the world has ever seen.
The trade-offs? Well, possibly none. God needs nothing. He is perfect and complete in every way. What could He gain? Why did He come to earth and subject Himself to living in a human body?
What first comes to mind is God the Father sent God the Son. The Son obediently did all that the Father desired Him to do. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38. “Though He was in the form of God, 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. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). Secondly, Jesus departed heaven for earth because of the great love of God for people. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21). This love was not just for the world in general, but for each individual in it, for you personally.
Jesus crossed the spectrum like nobody else, from the highest of praise, glory and honor to the most painful, shameful death possible. Why this trail? Why would He consent to such a path? Both sobering and enormously joyful, He did it for you. He was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification”, and that all happened because He chose to come to earth and take our place on the cross.
Thirdly, but certainly not finally for much more could be said, He came to taste death so that He might free us from it. “But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone”. During His life on earth He tasted death for everyone, not merely to experience it, but purposefully entering into it to conquer it and free us! “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2: 9, 14-15).
This Christmas, remembering the trail Jesus took, the hardship involved, and the benefits that come to those who are His, we can say “THANKS BE TO GOD!”.