Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas: Sacrifice and Glory

who, being in the form of God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.
But He emptied Himself,
    taking upon Himself the form of a servant,
    and was made in the likeness of men.
And being found in the form of a man,
    He humbled Himself
    and became obedient to death,
        even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:6-8, MEV

It has been an incredibly difficult year. I have struggled with anger and resentment because I've had to give up so much I felt entitled to. In the middle of a pity party at the beginning of Advent, as we were doing our family Bible reading, we read this passage in Philippians. The pity party was over.

I have sacrificed nothing compared to what Jesus sacrificed. He gave up His life, certainly, but what about the fact that He came at all? He was in heaven, living in sheer perfection, and He chose to give it all up. He arrived on this sin-riddled earth in the form of a human baby, completely dependent on others. He gave up all the perfection and splendor of heaven for a stable with animals as roommates.

Jesus gave up abundance to grow up the Son of a carpenter in a small town in Israel. Did he grow up with people whispering behind his back about the circumstances surrounding his mother's first pregnancy? He was sinless, but the community he lived in, his siblings, and his parents weren't.

He deliberately subjected Himself to everything this world had to throw at Him---all the drama and ugly we live through every day---and He did it because He wanted to, because He loves us.

When I think about Jesus and what He did, I realize that I don't know the meaning of the word sacrifice. What I'm really dealing with is selfishness and immaturity. Christmas is about true sacrifice. Christ gave up everything to live on this earth as a human for thirty-three years, knowing that the end would be an excruciating death. And He came willingly.

But Christmas isn't just about the sacrifice. It's about the glory that followed with the Resurrection. Christmas gives us a glimpse of both. The Baby in the manger has a star and angels announcing His arrival. Kings are searching Him out, bringing Him gifts and worshiping Him. Shepherds receive news of His birth and visit to worship, leaving to share the news with everyone they meet.

Sacrifice and glory revealed in a Baby in a manger.

Merry Christmas!

Pray: Father, thank You for sending Jesus as a Baby---to live and die and be resurrected for us. Help us to remember the true meaning of Christmas as we celebrate. Amen.

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