“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7)
By entering into a human body through the incarnation…Jesus Christ the Son of God is opening Himself up to the challenging realities of a radical, precipitous downgrading in outward appearances compared to His exalted glory in heaven…which by the most brilliantly fine-tuned calculus in the history of moral reasoning…opens up the one and only narrow pathway leading to the cross at Calvary.
The classic book The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain gives us a wonderfully adventurous and compelling story that parallels the situation of Jesus Christ closely in this regard.
The real prince in Mark Twain’s story, outside of the king’s palace and disguised in pauper’s clothes…unprotected by his voluntary loss of royal status out in the rough-and-tumble world at-large…is subject to the same perils and abuses faced every day by the look-alike pauper boy with whom the prince has temporarily and secretly exchanged places with.
One fundamental question asked by probably every person who has ever lived…during a contemplative moment of reflection on the purpose and meaning of life…is…why is human life for most people a challenging, rough-and-tumble, sometimes bruising affair?
Why isn’t the entrance into our world for Jesus Christ the Son of God…at the very least in His special case…a smooth-sailing, carefree, life-of-ease, rolled-out red carpet…seamless transition of welcome from the heavenly world of being the exalted Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) to the world of merely being a lowly pauper?
After thousands of years of advancements in knowledge, technological gadgets, medicine, farming, and political and social lessons-learned…why has not humanity gotten our collective act together a long time ago in terms of being able to offer a peaceful, supportive, welcoming environment…for the fulfillment of purpose, meaning, character growth, and personal destiny…as the normal expectation for every person on the planet?
Why does the real-world have the actual disparity between the privileged insides of the palace grounds and the hard conditions of the outside world…that forms the backdrop of reality for Mark Twain to craft his brilliantly insightful fictional story around?
I think that Mark Twain in his classic book The Prince and the Pauper partially answers this question as to why the world-at-large…outside of the palace…is a rough-and-tumble reality for most people…explored from the human analytical and perceptual eye of a literary genius.
The thematic take-away lesson from the story…from a human standpoint…is that the young prince must leave the confines of the preferential unreality of the palace…and experience real life among his subjects in the guise of a regular person like them…in order to be able to return to the palace and someday become a good king who can rule the realm for the benefit of the people in justice and compassionate understanding…and not as a self-centered tyrant merely using his subjects for his own pleasure…merely as means to his own ends.
This moral framework that Mark Twain…a religious skeptic…posits in his book…is at such a high level of sophisticated complexity that it blows the atheistic philosophies of materialism and naturalism…out of the water. Material particles and energy would never come up with the contemplation of this deeply sophisticated, highly elevated of issues…no matter how much time was given to their development.
Citing the gospel of John chapter one verses 1-5 and verse 10 would be helpful here:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity