ADVENT NR 2
Scripture : Philippians 2 : 5 – 11
Theme : Bethlehem in the light of Calvary
There are very few things one can easily mistake yourself with than Christmas. Because the secular world has completely taken over Christmas and filled it with an idea that totally conflicts with what it really is about. Believers-in-Christ are completely surrounded with the message of the world. You cannot escape it.
The world’s idea of Christmas is something of a superficial joy, lights and decorations, goodwill, gifts and spending-spree. According to the world, Christmas is supposedly the time for giving to others and caring for others. Everything centres on sentiment and spending and profiteering and humanism.
Believers can so easily fall into that way of thinking about Christmas.
Of course it is indeed a matter of joy. But, it is a joy that makes you humble. Particularly once you understand what Christmas is truly about. We often THINK that we understand what it is all about. We grew up with the Biblical facts. It is about the Son of God who became man. OF COURSE!! Who does not know that!
However, that does not mean that one truly understands! One can not understand the depth of the Christmas-events unless you see that the SUFFERING of our Lord Jesus Christ started already here – at His becoming flesh. That is exactly how Philippians 2 opens up the coming of the Lord to this world for us. When He came to the world, He came in the form of a servant, not of a King!!
THEME: Christmas-events in the light of Passover-events
1. The humiliation of Jesus in the Christmas-events
2. The meaning of Jesus’s humiliation in the Christmas-events for us.
1 The humiliation of Jesus in the Christmas-events >> Our passage of Scripture describes the great event with which the Lord came to surprise His people Israel and the world. An absolutely unexpected surprise. While the nation Israel knew full well all about the coming of the Messiah. Indeed, they had the Scriptures. Yet the majority of them misunderstood the Scriptures. They were expecting a Messiah who would only be an ordinary man. A magnificent leader. They thought that he would become king in Jerusalem the way David was king. They thought he would liberate them, the Jews, from Roman domination.
Then came the greatest surprise imaginable. Firstly, it was God Himself who came to earth: Jesus is the Son of God. Nobody anticipated that. Secondly, He did not look like a King at all, but like a humble servant. Indeed, He sounded like a King, but He looked like a slave. It was a surprise that the Jews could not assimilate.
It is – incidentally – also one of the strongest proofs of the absolute divine inspiration of the Scriptures, namely that the Bible was indeed written by people, but that the content does not at all coincide with man’s natural way of thinking.
Who on this earth would have dreamt that the Saviour of the world would look like a servant and follow the path of degradation?? Who on earth could have thought up a passage like Phil 2: 5-11? Who on earth could have brought Christmas into connection with the suffering of our Lord Jesus?? Who would have thought that the living God of heaven would come and humble Himself in Jesus Christ?? The living God: humble Himself?? Our human logic simply cannot grasp these kind of ideas…
But, when you begin to grasp something of this, the entire Christmas story opens up to you. Then you see all the familiar things of the Christmas story in a new light. Things like for example, why Jesus had to be born into a poor family. Why He had to be placed in a manger – a feeding trough for animals. Why there was apparently not even a midwife to help at the birth. Why He was born in the little hamlet of Bethlehem and grew up in the despised Nazareth. Why the palace-elite of Herod did not hear the angel-choir announcing the birth, but dirty shepherds did. Why a special star appeared, but His own people Israel did not follow it. The only people who followed it were the 3 Gentile star-gazers. THUS: The form of a servant..
What a terrible humiliation it must have been for the Son of God. He was in the form of God, but He did not regard it as something He should hold on to. He voluntarily surrendered it. He gave Himself of His own free will.
Instinctively the question arise: WHY all of this? Why such humiliation?
2 The meaning of Jesus’s humiliation in the Christmas-events for us >> Our Lord Jesus had to come to do servant-work on earth. That is why He took the form of a servant. He literally came to do dirty-work. He had to contaminate Himself. In order to completely clean up our RUIN.
When we look that way at our Lord Jesus in His humiliation, then we suddenly also see something of ourselves. See how great our own depravity really is. Much deeper than we would ever like to acknowledge. But look at Jesus in the form of a servant, and you see the naked TRUTH – about yourself!
That is why Jesus became HUMAN. The humiliation was NOT to become HUMAN. There is nothing bad about being HUMAN. Then what was the humiliation? To become man in the form of a servant. Someone who came to do dirty-work. The KING looks like a servant!
There was no other way to deliver US from our depravity. He had to come down to our level. He had to become HUMAN exactly the way we are. He saved us by becoming a servant that gets blamed for everything AND endure injustice. He saved us by humiliating Himself. He saved us by taking a good few steps backwards.
Just imagine it: A KING who STEPS BACKWARDS… And on top of it not simply a King, but THE HEAVENLY KING.
One see something of this reflected in the OT, in 1 Samuel 8 where the nation Israel rejected the Lord as King and called for an earthly king, same as all the other nations have. Then we read that the Lord let them have their way. The Lord stepped back for another king. He makes a sacrifice. He bends over backward. So that SAUL can become king.
That is what happened at Bethlehem. The King was prepared to stand back. He is not a mechanical Robot that runs over people. He is deeply compassionate. Often it is WE who run over HIM like a bulldozer. But in Bethlehem we see how the heart of the living God beats. He saves us/He clears our ruin/He cleanses us – by His own humiliation.
Have the realization already truly penetrated your soul that God the Father has cleansed you personally in/with Jesus’s humiliation? That which happened on Christmas day was not merely a great gesture of love towards us. And now it is up to us to make every effort to elevate ourselves to get into heaven!!
O no!!! THERE (on Christmas day) the servant ALREADY cleansed the ruin of your life. Your deliverance was perfectly executed THERE. If we are still struggling with the ruin of our lives it is because we do not BELIEVE/trust what happened at Bethlehem/ Calvary/ Easter Sunday. There has not yet been a personal repentance/ about-turn and transferring of faith unto Christ. Unbelief says to the Lord: “It cannot be true that Christ’s birth/suffering/death/resurrection can wipe away MY sin and blame”. Unbelief returns God’s gift back to Him.
And what happens then? Then you never EXPERIENCE the deliverance, and in the end you must pay your own debt! But, who of us can be so very foolish? Can it be that someone who is present here can be so indescribably dumb?
Christmas is a season of lights, colours and gaiety. It is not wrong that we are glad about Christmas. Particularly if we understand that with Christmas, the living God came to save and acquit all His chosen ones from hell – yes everyone who would ever come to faith. Once we understand that, the lights of the world are actually still too few!
But, while we celebrate, may we never forget that the birth of Jesus was the start of his suffering. And that it was as a result of OUR sin-ruin that He had to come to do dirty-work. That is why Christmas is a humble thanksgiving feast.
A humble Thanksgiving where we pray: “Lord, we are so sorry that our sin-ruin caused your humiliation. But thank you that you have not shrunk back from it. Thank you that You have come to surprise us with the grace of God. Let us also take a step backwards towards one another. Bend over backward with the same attitude that there is in Your heart.”
Translated by Marthie Wilson