(Paul’s take on Christmas)
“Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a man, and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross!”
This is Paul’s way of explaining how Jesus entered human history. The incarnation not an accident or an afterthought. It is Christ Jesus’ deliberate decision. I cannot comprehend such. If our minds have not been boggled by the enormity of such and undertaking, it is only because we have not begun to contemplate the magnificence of such a mystery,
When John declared: “The Word became flesh and lived among us,” we cannot take that for granted. We cannot simply yawn, stretch and take it into stride. This is not “ho hum” material. The Son of God became known as the son of a peasant girl named Mary and a Jewish carpenter named Joseph! The Eternal Word of the Living Creator began to be expressed in the little wails and coos and cries of a little Jewish infant!
How wonderful! How WONDER FULL!
Christmas is packed with many memories, hopefully pleasant. The air seema always filled with pleasant scents, excitement, merriment. We can remember and look forward to the scenes being repeated and new memories being made. But the incredible, powerful, truth is packed into that sentence,
Want to know what made jubilant angels tell frightened shepherds “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy?” and then break into a chorus “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace good will toward men?”
Want to know the real key to bringing light into the darkness and hope into a confused, despairing world?
Go back and re-read and ponder that profound sentence:
“He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a man, and was found in fashion as a man.“
Something which struck me like a thunderbolt as I began again to contemplate the Nativity is this: It was a choice Jesus made. A deliberate decision. I had nothing at all to do with my own birth. The Bible teaches that the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, The Savior and Light of the World, is an idea born in the mind of God’s only begotten Son. The Great Descent was no accident or afterthought. The entire plan was conceived in the mind of God.
No one has ever loved so greatly. No one has ever gone so far and given up so much! That decision ~ not the jingle bells or the ill-fitting Santa suits, fake beards or the mistletoe or the Christmas carols ~ should be the focus of our thoughts on December 25 and every other day of every other year of all our lives.
Jesus chose the assignment and carried out His mission from the feed trough outside that little inn in Bethlehem to His public execution outside Jerusalem and His vacating a slightly used tomb loaned by Joseph of Armithea. He told the arresting soldiers: “No man takes my life from me.” He gave it up, voluntarily, deciding to go even to the Cross ~ if that were the only way man could be redeemed. What a great Descent! What a powerful, loving decision!
It is an eternal mystery, yet Paul, John, and others say that is just what Jesus did! He laid down His identity as Deity. He came here anonymously. He came to His own people and they didn’t recognize Him.
IT WAS A CHOICE that Jesus made. If Christmas is anything, that point is central to our understanding what happened. His identity, His possessions, position, etc. were not as important to Jesus as the assignment He undertook. “He made Himself of no reputation. Took upon Himself the form of a servant and was found in fashion as man.” He grew up, became obedient, even when that decision resulted in his being executed with incredible cruelty, publicly, like a criminal, on that hill so far away and so long ago.
If I’m really serious and sincere about understanding the real meaning of Christmas, this must figure in my thinking.
When I think about what Christmas really means, some of the stuff we do sounds silly. It is so superficial and self-centered. Not one of us can grasp the real reality of the birth of Jesus without thought. We’ll just keep looking at words, going through the motions, observing our rituals, and conducting business as usual. If I stay busy enough, occupied with trivia and traditions, I’ll never grasp the significance of what really took place. Paul’s message to the young church in Philippi us that they should take a closer look at the Event and it’s what it means.
Christmas isn’t about self-indulgence. It is not about grabbing and getting. Or giving the most expensive, current craze in electronic toys. What Paul asks is that you just THINK ABOUT IT. Let Christ’s mind and conduct guide your thinking.
Paul points out that is isn’t enough just to admit the fact and accept the truth. We need to go further than that. We need to learn to think like Jesus thinks.
I cannot grasp the idea of “The Word” becoming flesh or assuming the “mind of Christ,” without thought. Without time and thoughtful meditation, I’ll just be looking at words and go about my business. If I stay busy enough, occupied with enough trivia, I’ll never grasp the significance of what really took place.
Christmas isn’t about self-indulgence. It is not about grabbing and getting. In Paul’s words, it is about the deliberate decision on the part of Jesus to give Himself for His people in unselfish sacrifice and service. Paul’s logic goes even further and suggests that, just as Christ gave Himself, we should give ourselves.
God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student ~donkimrey