Valliant acts follow in the wake of greatness: heroism, bravery, and courage. One ancient writer, however, records one act that no one would count as greatness.
Stooping is a lowering of oneself, a bending in submission to something or someone. At its lowest, stooping is debasement and degradation, yet One greater than all has consented to stoop on our behalf, and we are immeasurably better for it.
There is a touch of the sublime in this act of stooping by the One who made us and makes us great by His gentle touch. To find something sublime declares that it elevates or exalts; it possesses a dignity and honor unnoticed by many.
In God In Search of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel describes sublime as a characteristic that, “may be sensed in things of beauty as well as in acts of goodness and in the search for truth . . . The sublime is that which we see and are unable to convey. It is the silent [implication] of things to a meaning greater than themselves. It is that which all things ultimately stand for . . . The sublime is not a thing, a quantity, but rather a happening, an act of God, a marvel. Thus even a mountain is not regarded as a thing. What seems to be stone is a drama; what seems to be natural is wondrous. There are no sublime facts; there are only divine acts.”
Some English translations of this text render “stoop” as “gentleness.” In Hebrew, the word anavah’s individual letters (ayin = to see, know; nun = growth, life; vav = secure, nail, Messiah; and hey = behold, reveal) combine to possibly convey an unexpected message – “Know that Messiah’s life is revealed in you.”
When I least deserve my Lord, when I have been evil, petty, spiteful, and obstinate, then I sense something truly sublime, something that has no basis in fact or emotion or calculable merit. In the midst of my own excrement, I sense my Savior stooping to help me up . . . again.
The good news of the Gospel is that stooping leads to the exaltation and revelation of Messiah to the world, and Jesus will stoop to rescue any one. Only our Savior can accomplish that.