“Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.” -Matthew 26:55
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. -2 Cor 4:7
Very few things are as important to the spiritual life as vulnerability. The vulnerable are those capable of being wounded and are open to attack. As in other aspects of the spiritual journey, Jesus is our chief exemplar and enabler. When he rode into Jerusalem, Jesus, the True Human, was vulnerable to the Roman authorities and the religious establishment. He also revealed his heart.
Jesus came to town teary-eyed (see Luke 19:40-44). Then he flew off the handle at the exploitation of the poor in the temple court. We already knew Jesus to be a man of sorrows equated with grief (Isaiah 53:3) but in the same week, he would brave rejection and hatred, knowing that the crowds’ welcome cries would turn to calls for his crucifixion. The scribes and religious leaders tried to trip him up in his words when they saw him in the temple courts. When they finally arrested him it was in a night garden, through the betrayal of his disciple and friend—someone he shared his life and heart with. Jesus was vulnerable because of the risks he took in coming to Jerusalem and he was emotionally honest. Had he opted for self-protection and self-preservation instead, we wouldn’t have a savior and wouldn’t know what it means to be truly human.
Personally, I find vulnerability one of the most difficult aspects of the spiritual life. I tend to keep my emotions close to my chest (though I’m quick with a joke). I like security as much as the next guy and want to leave myself open to attack. I can recall moments where my vulnerability was trampled on. But I have learned the hard way that it through the cracks in my clay-jar life that the light of Christ shines in me. I’ve learned that hidden wounds fester and get infected, but opening up, though risky, allows for healing and deeper relationships with others.
We cannot expect to be transformed, renewed, resurrected unless our true self shows up; we have no depth in our relationships (and the with-God life is a relationship) unless we learn to share who we really are. In 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” Christ is the head of the new humanity. He shows us a new way to be human and enables us to be our vulnerable, true-selves without shame.