As a boy, I used to admire the sight of cricket players like Ray Lindwall or Freddie Truman as they glided in from their long runs to produce a fast, unplayable ball, shattering stumps at the other end of the pitch.
We recall the poise and movement of skaters Torvill and Dean, or the smooth timing of Sebastian Coe’s sprint for the tape. For others it is the beauty of a ballerina’s movement or the skill of a tightrope walker without a safety net that evokes such admiration.
The quality common to all these things is balance and harmony. Without these qualities, nothing could be achieved. Someone has said that balance is ‘the state of equilibrium before you fall’. Balance brings risk. A slight inclination too far can quickly upset it.
But I want to consider the ultimate and perfect balance of one who never fell. The balance and harmony of his character, personality, essence, actions and motives was as beautiful as it was miraculous. I refer, of course, to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and truth
Take, for example, Christ’s blend of ‘grace and truth’ referred to in John 1:14. If he had erred from grace into a sentimental preference for a likeable individual, Jesus would have lost his consistency in making judgements, and truth would have been the casualty.
Yet if he voiced everything he knew to be true about a particular sinner, there would have been no room for grace.
Imagine what would have happened if he had publicly detailed the many sins of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:34). Truth would have abounded but it would have crushed the woman’s spirit and shut out grace.
It would also have shut out the very thought of grace from her self-righteous accusers. Jesus’ answer gave her hope. While recognising that adultery is sin, his words led to conviction of sin in the hearts of her accusers. Not being ‘without sin’ themselves, they were unable to ‘throw a stone at her first’ (John 8:7). Jesus’ command to the woman to ‘go and sin no more’ demonstrated both grace and truth.
Beauty in balance
Jesus never faltered in manifesting the perfect balance of his attributes. He trod the tightrope of his deity and humanity as if it were a motorway. With his two natures fully integrated yet distinct, the risk of falling to one side or the other was always present.
His expulsion of the moneychangers from the temple demonstrates the point (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-46). How easily the human trait of anger could have taken over!
But the sinless perfection of our Lord shone through, showing both his holy concern for immediate action and the care he took to assess the scene before he acted (Mark 11:11).
What beauty there can be in balance! And what perfect beauty there was in the ‘altogether lovely’ one (Song of Solomon 5:16). Think of his eternal Godhead and then ‘see him lying in a bed of straw’ as a baby.
See his sinlessness and yet the ease with which he met with sinners. Contrast his absolute authority over sin, the devil and death, with his willingness, while in the flesh, to be subject to parental and political authority (Luke 2:51; Matthew 22:21).
Power and weakness
Consider the immensity of his power in stopping the storm on the sea of Galilee; but remember that he was asleep in the boat through sheer tiredness (Mark 4:38-39).
Above all, let your mind go to the cross. There, abandoned and dying in weakness, he defeated sin and proclaimed triumphantly, like a conquering gladiator in the arena, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).
The man who, in risen power, passed through a sealed tomb and fast-closed doors was the same person who shared the disciples’ breakfast on the beach (Matthew 28:6; John 20:19-26; John 21:12-13).
On the Emmaus Road, Jesus quietly chose to teach the truth of his word in the Old Testament (Luke 24:27,40), when he could have ‘zapped’ his co-travellers with a mighty demonstration of resurrection splendour.
Time and eternity
The Christ that heaven worships as the Lord of glory is the servant who washed his disciples’ feet (Revelation 4 and 5; John 13:12). He who came to earth as a baby, in humility, will return as the mighty Lord of Glory, in power and majesty.
Willingly or involuntarily, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
We would expect all this from our Emmanuel, ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). His perfection is undeniable and unrivalled, exhibiting the miraculous uniqueness of our Saviour God.
No prophet or priest, in Scripture or out of it, has ever possessed divine balance like his. No religious leader, past or present, can compare with him.
To the world at large he remains ‘despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53:3). But to those who know him he is ‘precious’ beyond words (1 Peter 2:7).
Reflecting Christ’s balance
Oh, that we could reflect his balance! Hating sin and loving holiness, living for eternity while dwelling in time. In valuing one lost soul as immensely valuable while counting the gains and acclaim of this world as rubbish.
May we grow stronger in zeal for Christ and his work, even while our bodies remind us of the passing years! Let John the Baptist’s desire be mine: ‘He must increase; but I must decrease’ (John 3:30).