Summary: This message examines the importance of the incarnation and Christ’s attitude in regard to the Christmas story.
Many times some very significant events slip under the radar and do not make the headlines. Many times it is due to the fact that the world’s eyes are fixed upon a seemingly larger event. For example, in 1809 the eyes of the world were on Napoleon as he marched across Europe. As the world watched the Napoleonic war unfolding babies were still being born and 1809 saw several men born who would make a significant impact on the world. During the course of this one year were born Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Darwin, Kit Carson and Abraham Lincoln. The armies of Napoleon may hold a prominent place in history but it is the ideas of men like Darwin and Lincoln that have had a lasting impact on the world. In 1809 the noise of war seemed so much more significant than the cries of these newborn babies. If we journey back eighteen more centuries, we discover a similar situation. The eyes of the Mediterranean world were fixed upon Augustus Caesar and his vast empire. The headlines were dominated by the fact that Caesar had ordered census to be taken of the entire Roman world. Who could have imagined that the great Augustus was simply a tool in God’s hand for fulfilling Old Testament prophecy? Who would have noticed a young couple making the seventy mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem? Who would have noticed the cries of a newborn coming from a stable? Really, would anyone have cared? All eyes were fixed on Augustus Caesar and Rome allowing the most significant event in human history to go virtually unnoticed. It was during this time that the Son of God was born bringing the human race a gift that was simply indescribable.
I. Examining how God carefully unfolded His plan.
A. God determined exactly when conditions were right for Him to send His Son into the world.
1. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law. (Galatians 4:4—NIV)
2. Paul does not say what it was that marked this point in world history as the ripe moment for the incarnation of God’s Son. It is perhaps hazardous to attempt to fathom the reasons for God’s time-table, but several facts of history stand out.
3. The Romans had made this moment uniquely ready by building a network of roads and establishing a stable government. Never before had travel been so easy and safe; not again for another 1500 years would it be so.
4. The Greeks made their contribution through the universality of their language and the failure of their religion.
5. It was an age of opportunity in communication, but an age when the traditional faiths had little to communicate.
6. The Jews had made this moment in time ripe for the birth of the church by establishing synagogues throughout the known world, and by translating the Septuagint, the Old Testament Scriptures into Greek.
B. Consider all the events and circumstances surrounding Mary and Joseph.
1. Matthew in his genealogy makes it very clear that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father while showing that Jesus was Mary’s biological son.
2. Joseph entertained the thought of ending the engagement when he found out that Mary was pregnant, but God quietly intervened in a dream.
3. In obedience to God Joseph went ahead with the plans to make Mary his wife, but he did not consummate the relationship until after Jesus was born.
4. The Empire wide census would cause Joseph and Mary to journey to Bethlehem where Jesus would be born fulfilling the prophecy of Micah.
5. God’s hand was on the events and circumstances leading up to the moment when Jesus would be born.
II. Paul gives us some insight into solving the puzzle of the incarnation.
A. Jesus’ life was characterized by the trait of humility which Paul says should mark our lives.
1. Paul is speaking to the entire Philippian church and trying to help them see the importance of modeling Christ’s attitude of service.
2. Certainly as God, Jesus Christ did not need anything! He had all the glory and praise of heaven. With the Father and the Spirit, He reigned over the universe.
3. It is very important for us to distinguish between personal and positional equality with God.
a. As to His Person, Christ always was, is, and will be equal with God. It would be impossible for Him to give that up.
b. Positional equality is different. From all eternity Christ was positionally equal with His Father, enjoying the glories of heaven.
4. Jesus did not consider this position something that He had to hold on to at all costs. When a world of lost mankind needed to be redeemed, He was willing to relinquish His positional equality with God—the comforts and joys of heaven.