Everybody knew the local blacksmith. Everybody knew him because no matter where the townsfolk went, they could hear the sound of his hammer as it beat against the anvil. No matter where they were they could hear the sound of his bellows as it spurred the fire to burn and roar with fresh intensity. Day in and day out his sledge beat against the metal like the ticking of a clock, like the beating of a drum, like the ringing of a bell.
Men, women, and children alike would pause as they passed by his workshop—pause to watch him rain mighty but measured blows upon rods and bands of iron. His shoulders were broad, his arms thick, his hands strong. Villains feared him but good men respected him, for they knew he was honorable, they knew he was committed to using his strength for good. An occasional uppity young man might challenge him and attempt to best him, but he would inevitably make that youngster regret such rashness, for none could ever throw him to the ground or make him beg for mercy.
It happened on one otherwise unremarkable afternoon that a silence settled over that small town and the people soon realized that the blacksmith’s hammer had fallen silent. Slowly it registered in their consciousness that they could no longer hear it ringing out through the streets, no longer use it to measure the hours and the minutes. Those who gazed into his shop saw his hammer resting still beside the anvil, the fire burning low, the workshop devoid of life and activity. The blacksmith was nowhere to be found.
A few walked silently to his home and, gazing through the window, saw a scene they would never forget. The blacksmith was inside, lying on a cot, cradling his sick and feverish child. He held her as gently as could be, carefully dabbing a cloth against her forehead, his calloused hands softly brushing a tear from her eye. He sang her a quiet lullaby, his trembling voice soothing her sorrows and drawing her to sleep. And soon enough she slept, her little head resting comfortably on his mighty chest.
The people understood that this weak little girl had done what the mightiest man could never do—she had brought that blacksmith to the dust. She had taken his mighty hand in her little one and drawn him down, down in her weakness. She alone had caused him to stoop, she alone had brought him down to her level. Her weakness had proven to be her strength and now the strongest of all was soothing and tending the weakest of all.
And isn’t our Jesus just like that? He is the one through whom all things were created and the one through whom all things exist. He is the one who has been given all authority in both earth and heaven and the one who has been crowned King of kings. Yet he is the one who responds to our weakness rather than our strength, to our helplessness rather than our ability. He is the one who came to seek and save the lost, who came to gather to himself the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, the one who came to respond in strength to those who know themselves weak. When we need his power, when we need his love, when we need his forgiveness, we can approach him weak and broken. Like a little child, we can take his hand and he will gladly be drawn down, he will joyfully stoop to hear us, to lovingly tend to us. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he will remind us, “for theirs—for yours—is the kingdom of heaven.”
Inspired by F.B. Meyer and H.W. Longfellow