And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:8
Do you plan on taking the time this Christmas to tell your children or friends about the purpose of Christmas? If so, what will you tell them? Although we usually meditate on the birth of Jesus at this time of the year, His purpose in coming to earth was not to give us the sweet picture of a baby in a Bethlehem manger. That little baby was born to die for you and for me and thus pay for the forgiveness of our sins. He was born to die on the Cross that we might be reconciled to God.
People rarely think of the Cross at Christmastime because it is the time set aside to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But in Philippians 2, Paul connects the two thoughts. As Paul writes about God becoming as a man, he goes on to express the ultimate reason God chose to take this amazing action. Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus was “…found in appearance as a man…” The word “found” is the same word that was used in ancient times to depict a king who exchanged his kingly garments for a brief period of time for the clothing of a beggar.
When Jesus came to earth, it really was a moment when God Almighty shed His glorious appearance and exchanged it for the clothing of human flesh. Although man is wonderfully made, his earthly frame is temporal dust and cannot be compared to the eternal and glorious appearance of God. However, for the sake of our redemption, God laid aside all of His radiant glory, took upon Himself human flesh, and was manifested in the very likeness of a human being.
This is the true story of a King who traded His kingly garments and took upon Himself the clothing of a servant. But the story doesn’t stop there. Jesus — our King who exchanged His royal robes for the clothing of flesh — loved us so much that He “…humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”!
The word “humbled” means “to be humble, to be lowly, and to be willing to stoop to any measure that is needed”. This describes the attitude God had when He took upon Himself human flesh. Think of how much humility would be required for God to shed His glory and lower Himself to become like a member of His creation. Consider the greatness of God’s love that drove Him to divest Himself of all His splendor and become like a man. Jesus humbled Himself and became “obedient to death— even death on a cross”.
The word “obedient” tells me that this was not a pleasurable experience that Jesus looked forward to in anticipation. To humble Himself to this extent required Jesus’ deliberate obedience. As preexistent God, Jesus came to earth for this purpose. But as man dressed in flesh, He despised the thought of the Cross (Hebrews 12:2) and could only endure its shame because He knew of the results that would follow. For Jesus to be obedient as a man, He had to choose to obey the eternal plan of God.
Just think of it — Almighty God, clothed in radiant glory from eternity past, came to this earth formed as a human being in the womb of a human mother for one purpose: so that He could one day die a miserable death on a Cross to purchase our salvation! All of this required humility on a level far beyond anything we could ever comprehend or anything that has ever been requested of any of us. Yet this was the reason Jesus came; therefore, He chose to be obedient to the very end, humbling Himself to the point of dying a humiliating death on a Cross and thereby purchasing our eternal salvation.
So as you celebrate Christmas this year be sure to remember the real purpose of Christmas. It isn’t just a time to reflect on the baby boy who was born in Bethlehem so long ago. That baby was God manifest in the flesh. He was born to die for you and for me. Jesus was so willing to do whatever was required in order to redeem us from Satan and sin that He humbled Himself even unto death on a Cross! That is what Christmas is all about!
Thank You Lord!