There is a distinct difference, I believe, between inability and incapacity. Incapacity suggests the absence of power, while inability may actually be derived from the very presence of that power. Thus, there are two things that may cause a man to say, “I cannot” – too little life and too much life.
Let’s supposed that there has been a terrible accident or a tremendous storm that has resulted in a cruise ship that is about to sink any minute into the cold, dark depths of the ocean. The life boats have already been lowered and filled. In fact, they are so full that there remains room for only one more person, but there are two left on the ship. One individual is a paralytic, much like the man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jesus’ day. He was rushed past, left behind, incapable of saving himself. The other man is healthy and strong. He could leap over the paralyzed man and leave him behind, but he refuses to do so. He feels pity for the poor paralytic. He feels obligated to try and help him into the boat. Because of this, like the paralytic, he cannot save himself.
What is the difference between these two men? It’s not that one is helpless and the other is not – each is equally helpless. The difference is found in the reason for their helplessness. The paralytic is helpless to save himself because of a lack of power. The other is helpless to save himself because of his passion to save the other. The first comes from weakness, the other from the great strength of human love. For the first it is – “the flesh is weak.” For the other, “love constrains me.”
It may sound strange, but Jesus was never more divine than in His hour of disability. We think of Him showing Himself to be God in His acension or in the performing of miracles, but it was in the hour of His humilitation that we witness His greatest exaltation. All other demonstrations pale in comparison to this deed of divine love.
Where do the lost and needy of the world run? Not to shouts of excitement over His miracles, not to the songs of Hosanna at His entrance into Jerusalem, but to the sight of the Savior lifted high on Mount Calvary. They bring their broken hearts, broken lives, and their broken dreams to the One willingly dying for them on the cross.
Is this weakness? Not at all. In fact it is the greatest stength in all of the universe – the love that Jesus has for a lost world; for you and me. He wasn’t held on cruel Calvary by rusty nails or Roman guards. He was held on that terrible tree by His omnipotent love.
It is not the lack of strength, but the presence of love; it is not the stooping, but the strength; it is not the laying down of life, but the Life laid down that is to be the focus of our attention and affection – the object of our worship.
We must remember why Jesus died on Calvary, and realize that it was His great love that held Him there. May we recognize just how great His love is for us and all of those who have yet to respond to, and receive, His great love.