Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

High and low

High and low

What a bleak landscape.  Let me tell you how I got here.

It started with John Stott.  In his book, The Incomparable Christ, he writes about the contrast in the Mark 8:31: “the Son of Man must suffer many things… and be killed.”  He suggests that Jesus uses the title Son of Man to identify himself as the figure in Daniel 7 who is given “authority, glory and sovereign power” for all eternity.

But Jesus says that this Son of Man will be put to death.  As Stott writes,

 Thus Jesus did what nobody else had ever done.  He fused the two Old Testament images – the Servant who would suffer (Isaiah 53) and the Son of Man who would reign (Daniel 7).”

Stott calls this “astonishing” – that the eternal King would suffer and die.

So, as I set out on to an obscure state park today, I had this contrast in mind.  Having driven it once before, I knew that the most direct route to this park from my house was a dirt road over a mountain.  So, it seemed fitting to have “high and low” in my head.

I stopped at the one epic vista on the way up.  I stood at the edge and wondered aloud at the love that drove Jesus to leave the glory of heaven.

I had only a vague idea of what I’d find below the summit.  Imagine my surprise, on the drive down the other side, to find this sign!  It felt like a godsend. I immediately pulled over, suited up and started down the trail.

So here I am, in one of the dreariest settings I’ve come across in my trips.  The combination of the clear-cut, bramble-covered fields with the few, bare trees and the biting wind, flecked with occasional snowflakes, make me melancholy.

As I talk to the Lord, I wonder aloud about how he must have felt in this broken world.  Did he long to tell them about the bright, joyful abundance he came from?  I mentally scan what I know of his teaching in the Gospels.  Then I ask, “Jesus, why didn’t you talk about your glory?”

The answer quickly comes, clear in my mind:

“But I did!”

The Spirit then reminds me how often Jesus spoke of his heavenly Father in John.  “Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” (5:19) “(I)I speak just as the Father taught me.” (8:28) “I and the Father are one.” (10:30) There are so many examples.

It dawns on me: Jesus didn’t speak of how he shone like the sun.  Or how angels by the millions worshiped him.  Or how he will rule for eternity.  For they are not the center of his glory.  They are, I suppose, an outgrowth of it.

His true glory is his unity with the Father and Spirit in an eternal, vibrant bond of love.  That’s what he wanted to describe repeatedly to this bleak and sin-ravaged world.

And love is why he became the Suffering Servant.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  (John 10:17)

High and low to high again.  Taking us with him into that glorious circle of love.

Lord, fill us with a vision of this heart of glory, so that we may continue to reveal it to this barren world through your love in us.

Reader: Have you had a high/low experience you’d like to share with

Email me about it at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And consider sharing this with friends via the social media buttons above.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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