Walking in Disguise
“Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!’ ‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” (Mark 1:23-26)
Have you ever watched the BBC-produced science fiction TV show, Doctor Who? Its main character, known only as “the Doctor,” is an alien Time Lord who fled the planet Gallifrey in a stolen TARDIS. He saves civilizations from alien invaders who threaten the earth by altering its history. The show has run, off and on, since 1963. Thirteen different actors have played the show’s namesake.
The Doctor’s time machine, the TARDIS, features prominently in the show’s many plots. TARDIS is an acronym that stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space, and the Doctor uses it to travel through time – “materializing and dematerializing out of the time vortex.” The TARDIS has the ability to take on the appearance of common objects in its location – as a means of disguising itself. But due to a technical malfunction it is locked into the appearance of a blue British police box – a mini-police station.
The most outstanding peculiarity of the TARDIS is that it is much bigger on the inside than on the outside. On the outside it looks like a glorified phone booth. But its inside is massive, equipped with all the technical devices and amenities to make time travel possible and comfortable.
The notion of something being much bigger on the inside than on the outside is hardly a modern idea. Nor is it a new concept that something of supreme significance should be disguised as a common object. In the verses quoted above, Mark tells of an incident early in Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus is teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum when a man, demon-possessed, cries out to Him, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” The drift I get from the demon’s words is, “That disguise doesn’t fool me, Jesus. Humanity may be ignorant of who You are, but I’m not.” There were many other such occasions in the Gospel of Mark where, at the sight of Jesus, the demons cry out, “You are the Son of God” (e.g. Mark 3:11; 5:7). But Jesus always shuts them up to keep them from revealing who He was. He did not want the demons blowing his cover.
You see, Jesus was, in reality, disguised in His first coming. Paul the apostle declared that although Jesus was of the very same nature and substance of the Father, He entered this world disguised as a servant (Philippians 2:6-8). His humanity shrouded His deity. Yet within that frail human body dwelled “all the fullness of deity” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus was infinitely bigger on the inside than on the outside. Consequently, when the Creator of the universe entered this world He went unrecognized (John 1:10).
Why did Jesus appear before us clothed in such extreme humility? Why did He wear the disguise of human flesh? Well, certainly one reason was so that He wouldn’t frighten us out of our minds. Remember what happened at Mount Sinai, where God allowed His glory to be seen and His voice to be heard. The people were so terrified that they begged Moses to face God on their behalf (Exodus 19:16-25; 20:18-21; Hebrews 12:18-21).
But Jesus came into this world to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). He wants to draw us to Himself, not frighten us away (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus wants to communicate with us and assure us that He understands our suffering and pain (Hebrews 2:10-11, 18; 4:15). He could only reach us by becoming one of us.
There is a lesson for every believer in this, as to how we should likewise live. For it is also true of Christian believers that they are bigger on the inside than on the outside. A popular evangelist of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries used to say this – “I’m a thousand times bigger on the inside than I am on the outside.” What he meant was that, despite his small stature and undistinguished looks, God was shaping his inner man into someone mighty and glorious. Paul declared, “Though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
Thus, while we walk this earth it does not yet appear that we are God’s glorious children (1 John 3:2). Though God is forging a mighty warrior within us, that warrior is disguised in frail flesh. He is ridiculed, mocked, and disowned by this world. But instead of retaliating and returning evil for evil, Jesus calls us to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6).
Like Jesus, we must walk in humility and submit ourselves to God. We must bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us, and love those who hate us (Matthew 5:38-48).
Think of Jesus as He hung from the cross, dying. His enemies taunted and mocked Him till His dying breath. But what was His response? “Just wait till I rise from the dead! I’ll make every last one of you pay dearly”? No, Jesus didn’t respond that way. Luke 23:34 says that Jesus kept praying for His murderers. That is why He came – to bear the sins of sinners and to endure God’s judgments and wrath on their behalf. Any hateful outbursts at this most difficult time would have defiled His sacrifice and defeated His purpose.
It’s the same with us whenever we stoop to the evil that’s employed against us. We become evil’s victim. The glorious person that God is fashioning within us shrinks by a foot. But we grow by a mile and overcome hatred and evil by loving our enemies and doing good to them (Romans 12:19-21).
So, whenever others get in our face and provoke us, let’s take the hand of Jesus Christ. Let’s cling to Him. Let’s follow Him who, although He was God in the flesh, humbled Himself and chose the path that, in the world’s eyes, seemed beneath Him. He submitted to His Father. He loved, forgave, and prayed. By doing so He conquered the universe and was exalted to the highest heaven.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, please help me at this time to put away all anger and malice from my heart and behavior. Help me to take Your loving and Almighty hand and to follow in Your steps. I entrust myself to You and humble myself before You, Lord Jesus, and trust that, as the Father highly exalted, You will exalt me in heaven. Amen.
(Information from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who)