For This I Came Into the World4 min read

Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before them.

One morning before Damien was to lead daily worship, as he poured some hot water into a cup, the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot; no feeling whatsoever.

Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, “My fellow believers.” But this morning he began with, “My fellow lepers.”

In a far deeper way, in a much greater measure, Jesus came into this world and grew up knowing what it would cost Him. Writes the great apostle: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB). Jesus bore in His pure being the marks of evil, and all the world’s sin, guilt, and disease for the purpose of the world’s redemption and ours.

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I am reminded of some words from Isaiah 53 describing our Lord’s character and work, and of other verses from Psalm 103 and Hebrews 2 unfolding the blessing of that redeeming work:

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5 NASB).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. The LORD performs righteous deeds, And judgments for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:1-6 NASB).

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14,15 NASB).

No sin left unpaid.

No blessing left uncreated.

No enemy left unconquered.

Why would Jesus do this? Saint Athanasius put it like this: “He became what we are that He might make us what He is.” Jesus, indeed, wants us to be children of the Heavenly Father. The beloved disciple of the Lord does write, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV).

But I believe there is no clearer statement of why Jesus came to earth in the form of a baby in Bethlehem, of why He lived and died as a servant, than His own words in Luke 19:“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV).

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And in His role of servant He has also left us, His children, an example and a grand purpose for living. And it is not about US. Jesus, speaking to His disciples, encourages: Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave —just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV).

“… for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world.” – Jesus (John 18:37 NIV).

Joseph Damien loved sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ Who was, and is, and is to come again, and living among the people God gave him. As we too love, and embrace, and are empowered by the Savior of the world, born in Bethlehem’s manger, true God and true man, who can sympathize with our every weakness and the temptations we face, may we also be empowered to live and share the Good News of Jesus Christ among the people where God has placed us—among the people that God has given us—among the people we are to serve.

“… for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world.” – You and me.

Pastor David Maier

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. David P. E. Maier is president emeritus of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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