Advent Reflection #4: C.S. Lewis, the drowning man & the Incarnation

I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for him.’  Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays.

In one sense, of course, those who make it are right.  They have even understated their own case.  The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possibly only because He was God.  But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them?

The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write.  That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child.  If it rejected him because ‘it’s easy for grown-ups’ and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no ‘unfair’ advantage), ti would not get on very quickly.

If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life.  Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) ‘No, it’s not fair!  You have an advantage!  You’re keeping one foot on the bank’?  That advantage–call it ‘unfair’ if you like–is the only reason why he can be of any use to me.

To what will you look if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 4, ‘The Perfect Penitent’

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