Yesterday our dog Mika did something which was just beautiful. I want to tell that story for two reasons. First, it’s a great story, and who doesn’t love cute dog stories? Second, it encapsulates something of the beauty of what Jesus has done. (And I guess third, it’s a story about limping, so how could I not?)
I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m certainly not claiming Jesus is like a dog, or that this even comes close to being as good as what God has done in the world through His Son. It’s a picture, an image, an illustration – nothing more.
Limping with those who limp
Three days ago, Mika did something pretty stupid. She jumped out of our first-floor window onto the street below. She was injured. (Given our quite recent history with dog accidents we were pretty shaken, and it feels miraculous she didn’t do any serious damage.) She has muscle damage in her front right leg, and she’s limping now.
Yesterday, I took her out to go to the toilet. A man walked by with an injured leg, limping and clearly in a bit of pain. Mika doesn’t normally pay much attention to strangers when she’s out, but this time she did.
She looked at him, hobbled over to him and then walked next to him for I guess about 20 seconds. Both struggling to walk. Both limping side by side.
When he had to go on and Mika had to stay with me, the man stopped, looked down at her and said “You’ve made my day. It’s nice to know I’m not alone – we’re in this together.”
I was proud. I welled up a little. It was beautiful.
Jesus: the great limper
The reason it meant a lot to this man was that Mika was in the same boat. She was in the same situation as him. She understood. He has a limp. She has a limp. She gets it.
It’s Easter at the minute, and all attention is on the death and resurrection of Jesus. But none of that would mean anything without the 33 years of His life before that. The years where He entered into the messiness of the world.
Born to scandal. Immediately a refugee. Growing up with all the normal pressures of life. Having a job, learning a trade. And then His ministry starts. Homeless, threatened, attacked, bereaved, misunderstood, persecuted, betrayed, arrested, abandoned, beaten, mocked, spat on, crucified, killed.
For the man yesterday it was a limp, and a fellow limper made all the difference. Whatever our ‘limp’ is – whatever part of life it is that is hard, that hurts, that seems hopeless – Jesus is the ‘great limper’, who comes alongside and can honestly say “I know what it’s like. I’ve been there. Let me limp along with you for a bit.” Jesus struggled. He knows how our struggles feel.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15)
Overcoming the limp!
I find great encouragement in that, and I want to hold onto it. But Jesus isn’t just the eternal limper who will limp along with us forever. He is the great limper who overcame His own limp and can overcome ours too!
It could sound like I’m saying this: “Things are bad. They’ll always be bad. They’ll never get better but at least Jesus knows how it feels.” That’s what we get if we focus on Jesus’ life and forget His great victory in His death and resurrection.
Mika could never heal her new friend’s limp. She depicts part of what Jesus does, but not all of it!
Jesus suffered all those things above, and was eventually killed by them. But then He rose, and that resurrection is a powerful statement that Jesus has defeated it all. He has established a new kingdom, one of healing and restoration and peace.
A kingdom with no more limps.
Whether right now or in the age to come, this is what Jesus will bring about in the life of every ‘limper’ who follows Him. Total and complete restoration.
We have a God who cares enough to send us a Companion to limp with us and a Saviour to overcome our limp for good. I encourage you: cling on to both.