Advent Reader -- Day 25
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:6-7) ----------
In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death -- that is, the devil -- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:10-11, 14-17)
The first heresy the early church encountered was called docetism, the idea that because Jesus was God he could not be fully human. But the writers of the New Testament go to great lengths to make it clear for us: Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully human.
Jesus became like us in every way. He was not a superhero sent from another planet. He had no superpowers gained by exposure to gamma rays. Rather, he was a human being completely yielded to his Father’s agenda. As a direct result, he never fell from temptation into sin and rebellion, becoming a model of what we can become if we, too, will set aside our pride, our ego, our agenda and submit to the transforming internal work of God’s Holy Spirit.
In his humility, Christ identified with us for the sake of our redemption. He became one with us in our weakness and modeled complete dependence upon the Father.
His weakness led him from his birth in a cattle stall to his nighttime flight to Egypt to the inconspicuous village of Nazareth to his itinerant ministry to his death on a Roman cross. But God would not leave him in obscurity. He brought him out of the dark tomb to an inevitable coronation whereby the One who had been so willing to declare himself as the Son of Man becomes known forevermore as the Son of God.
To the degree that we understand his willingness to identify with us, we also gain insight into our necessity of identification with him. Our own exaltation must come through self-emptying and humility; our own glorification can only come through our willingness to suffer with Christ.
Lord Jesus, you have gone to such amazing lengths to make it possible for me to have life in you. You have transferred me from a condition of depravity, alienation, futility, emptiness and hopelessness to an entirely new position of purity, fellowship, meaning, fullness and hope. I give thanks for your grace, in which you exchanged the boundless glory and majesty of heaven for the poverty and suffering of earth. Your poverty has made me rich; your love has lifted me up; your grace has given me hope; your suffering has given me life. I thank you and bless your name, the name which is above every name, at which all who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow and acknowledge that you are Lord. You have called me to a life of fullness and purpose as I derive these from your life in and through me. Amen.