By Max Dunnam, from his book This Is Christianity
One day a woman came to see the famous plastic surgeon Dr. Maxwell Maltz about her husband. She told the doctor that her husband had been injured while attempting to save his parents from a burning house. He could not rescue them. They both were killed, and his face was burned and disfigured. He had given up on life and gone into hiding. He wouldn’t let anyone see him.
Dr. Maltz told the woman not to worry. “With the great advances we’ve made in plastic surgery in recent years,” he said, “I can restore his face.” She explained that he wouldn’t let anyone help him because he believed God disfigured his face to punish him for not saving his parents.
Then she made a shocking request: “I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him. If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life. I love him so much; I want to be with him. And if that is what it takes, then that is what I want to do.”
Of course, Dr. Maltz would not agree, but he was moved deeply by that wife’s determined and total love. He got her permission to try talk to her husband. He went to the man’s room and knocked, but there was no answer. He called loudly through the door, “I know you are in there, and I know you can hear me, so I’ve come to tell you that my name is Dr. Maltz. I am a plastic surgeon, and I want you to know I can restore your face.”
Again there was no response. Again he called loudly, “Please come out and let me help restore your face.” But again, there was no answer. Still speaking through the door, Dr. Maltz told the man what his wife was asking him to do. “She wants me to disfigure her face, to make her face like yours in the hope that you will let her back into your life. That’s how much she loves you. That’s how much she wants to help you.”
There was silence, and then ever so slowly, the doorknob began to turn. The disfigured man came out to make a new beginning and to find a new life. He was set free, brought out of hiding, given a new start by his wife’s love and willingness to sacrifice for him.
That woman was willing to become like her husband, if by doing so she could open his heart to receive her love again and renew their relationship. This powerful story illustrates the love of Jesus, who, though he was living as God in heaven, gave that up to become like us, and live a life of suffering like we live in this sad world. This he did so that we might open our hearts to him, and would return to him, so that our relationship could be restored and renewed, now and forever.
Philippians 2:5-7 — In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Hebrews 2:11-17 (parts) — Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them (us) brothers and sisters… Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their (our) humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death… For this reason he had to be made like them (us), fully human in every way…
Hebrews 4:15 — For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet he did not sin.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said that you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help us not to stray from you, for you are the Way; nor distrust you, for you are the Truth; nor to rest on any other than you, for you are the Life. You have taught us what to believe, what to do, what to hope, and where to take our rest. Give us grace to follow you, the Way, to learn from you, the Truth, and live in you, the Life. Amen. —Erasmus