Jesus left a place of safety for rejection. He left honor for shame, glory for humiliation.The eternal God became vulnerable enough to be heard, seen, touched, scrutinized, and abused.


Vulnerable at birth. Think about it: confining your world to the body of a teenage girl. You were the Word spoken that created the world. Now you cannot speak. You who communicated within the blessed Trinity, now unable to vocalize except through crying.

Vulnerability in the family. Big brother Jesus lived with continual misunderstanding. He was accused of judging them, though his righteous actions judged them. The fact that his family did not believe in him until after the resurrection says something about how His siblings felt toward him. When they came to rescue Him from madness (Mark 3:21), He repudiated His mother and family in favor of those who followed Him. Tension!


Vulnerability with his disciples. He chose unlikely front men to get people ready for his coming. At times their inability to get it got to Him: “How long must I be with you?” The band He prepared to leave did not show signs of taking over the world. They were still asking basic questions about His identity.

Vulnerability at the cross. Jesus at his weakest, God at His strongest. Total exposure, hands stretched out defenselessly. Vulnerability literally means “the willingness to be wounded.” People hurled insults at Him and did not get a response back.

The vulnerability of Jesus stands in stark contrast with the lack of vulnerability of two groups in the gospels:

Religious leaders. They were not preaching the lie—they were living it. Jesus called them hypocrites, which literally means “play actors.” They presumed to walk in holiness. In truth, they were wicked men, feeding off the people. Their insecurity kept them from vulnerability. The prodigal was honest, the elder brother was not. The tax collector was vulnerable (“Have mercy on me a sinner;”) the Pharisee was not (“God, I thank you that I am not like other people”).

Disciples. Jesus wanted them to adopt the position of weak and dependent children, asking an extravagant Father to meet their needs, but they chose the stance of sophisticated and self-confident adults arguing about position and importance. Their insecurity showed in their unwillingness to assume the posture of a servant and wash feet. Jesus knew who He was and carried out the assignment. Humility is a mark of vulnerability, a quality the disciples didn’t learn until after Jesus left them.

Two Primary Models Used By Jesus

Children are naturally vulnerable. They are not too proud to express need, to ask questions, to reveal what they do not know. They are not sophisticated. They don’t normally have discussions about relative greatness. They tend to be more inclusive than exclusive.

Servants do not own anything. They are stewards of what belongs to their master. Unlike the religious leaders, servants have no reputation to protect and no constituency to impress. They stand on the low end of the totem pole and they have no pretense about their sense of importance. They have a one-track mind—doing the will of their master.

Take your pick: you can be like the Pharisees and insecure disciples or like honest kids and servants—and JESUS!


  1. Carol Greenwood says:

    Paul, your clear definition (with memorable examples) of vulnerability is very helpful. Such a good reminder of both its power and the call to remember Jesus’ stance.Thanks for the good word.

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