Summary: Specifically we’re going to take a look at the process that Jesus went through for us because there are certainly elements of His coming that don’t sound quite right.
Have you ever received a Christmas present that you didn’t really like? Here’s what you should say if you get a gift that underwhelms you.
* Hey! There’s a gift!
* Well, well, well…
* This is perfect for wearing around the basement.
* To think…I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.
* I really don’t deserve this.
I get a kick out of what kids say around Christmas time. Here are some actual letters that children have written to the Lord.
* Dear God, please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.
* God, I read the Bible. What does beget mean? Nobody will tell me.
* Dear God, in Bible times, did they really talk that fancy?
* Dear God, my brother told me about how you were born but it just doesn’t sound right. What do you say?
Tonight we want to take a look at the gift we should never want to return because the presence of Christ is a present we don’t really deserve. Specifically we’re going to take a look at the process that Jesus went through for us because there are certainly elements of His coming that don’t sound quite right. In order to help us grasp the mystery of Christmas we’re going to approach our study from a slightly different angle. The story has become so common to us that we’re in danger of missing the marvel of what really happened. On top of that, our culture has packaged the season with clutter and chaos and confusion and wrapped it all in the colors of commercialism.
Instead of looking at the familiar story through the perspective of the shepherds or Mary and Joseph, or the innkeeper, or the wise men, or even the Old Testament prophets, we’re going to look past this scenery in order to see Christmas from the perspective of Christ Himself. Specifically, we’re going to focus on a series of demotions that He took. We could call them His steps to downward mobility. Philippians 2:6-11 is perhaps the most profound statement of the Christmas story anywhere in the Word of God. F.B. Meyer has said, “It is almost unapproachable in its unexampled majesty.” This section of Scripture is really a piece of profound poetry, with some commentators suggesting that this was actually an ancient hymn.
Please listen as I read: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” We’re just going to skim the surface tonight but we’ll discover five different levels, or degrees down, that the Lord took. As we walk through this passage, we’ll illustrate each step with some Scripture from the nativity narrative and we’ll also utilize music to help us recapture the stunning wonder of Christmas.
1. Majestic Preexistence (6). When I first learned that Jesus has always existed I was blown away. Didn’t He get His start when He was born in Bethlehem? Actually, the Bible is very clear that Jesus has always been. Listen to the opening words of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3). Later, in this same gospel, in John 5:18, his enemies tried to kill Him because He stated that He was equal with God. Colossians 1:15 sums it up beautifully: “He is the image of the invisible God…”
Philippians 2:6 states that Jesus is in the very nature God. He did not have to “grasp” on to the glory of God. It was not something He had to defend or hold on to. He let it go to come to our world. Have you ever stopped to wonder what it must have been like for Jesus to leave the holiness of heaven and come to the woes of our world? He had been eternally surrounded by unimaginable beauty and then He was birthed among beasts, both of the animal and human variety. 1 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the mystery of Godliness, namely that “He appeared in a body.” This is the crux of Christmas. That’s why He was given the name “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).