Charlie Brown was struggling with all of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season when in despair he uttered “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” And Linus leaped to the rescue with a recitation of the account of Jesus’ birth from the gospel of Luke, a part of which is below.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.Luke 2:10-11 KJV
Popular cartoons are not always a good source of theology. But in this case, I believe Linus has nailed it. Christmas is all about the coming of a savior, good tidings of great joy to all people. The angel’s announcement, the visit of the shepherds and magi, the manger and stable are all secondary to the savior who was born. Even the birth of a baby who was the center of all the hoopla is not as important as who that baby was and why he had come. He was a savior, a deliverer. He was Christ, God’s anointed one. And he was the Lord, one with power and authority, God. My favorite passage about the coming of the savior is not in one of the gospel accounts. Instead, it is in Philippians 2:5-11
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Philippians 2:5-11 NIV
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.
At Christmas, we generally remember Jesus having been made in human likeness and found in appearance as a man. But before Jesus was made in human likeness he was in very nature God, having equality with God. Jesus was fully God before he made himself nothing in becoming a human. In becoming a human, Jesus did not give up his divinity, but he did become completely human with all the limitations inherent in that.
This baby that we picture in the manger was God. But he was also a helpless infant totally dependent on his parents to supply his every need. We think of the cross as a sacrifice. But was not his incarnation a sacrifice as well?
Jesus as God is the first step in the story of salvation told in Philippians, while his incarnation was the second. The third stop in the story told here by Paul is one of death, Jesus became obedient to death on a cross.
Jesus, as a man, was obedient to the Father’s plan for his life, a plan that took him to the cross. The cross is why Jesus was born and everything in his life led up to this. It was in his death that he became our savior, delivering us from destruction and into a relationship with our creator.
The final stop in this story is Jesus’ exultation. Because of his willingness to go to the cross, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.
At the manger, the shepherds and magi knelt before him. At the cross, all believers bow before him. But ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue will acknowledge he is Lord. Jesus, that helpless infant in the manger, now sits enthroned in the highest place, the firstborn over all creation.
This Christmas, as you celebrate Jesus’ birth, let me encourage you also to kneel before your Savior and acknowledge him as Lord. And in your celebration at the manger, don’t forget the cross and the throne.