The True Meaning of Christmas
It is going to be Christmas. And it is quite strange to see the world celebrate a season, a holiday or a happy occasion, without fully understanding that we remember the advent of the Saviour of the world, that which has changed the very course of history. We do not want to debate the actual date or time as to when Christ was born, but the essential truth is that Christ was born, He lived, He died, and He rose again, and He is alive forevermore. But when we see the world and its frenzy in celebrating Christmas, confusion prevails, as all we see is consumerism, selfish partying, excessive eating, and on over emotion to indulge in the Christmas spirit. The seriousness of the incarnation of Christ is not even glimpsed upon, for the reason for all our adoration and celebration is replaced by the schemes and design of the enemy.
The very star of Heaven, is replaced by cheap lights and a carnival mentality, that sings and dances to the tune of a podgy old man with a white beard and a red outfit, making it the Father of the celebration, ignoring the giver of good gifts Himself, our heavenly Father.
The secularization of Christmas did not happen overnight, but a process which began hundreds of years ago to consumerism of a vastly growing industrial age. Christmas was replaced with X-mas, an unknown factor. Now it is the HOLIDAYS, or the HOLIDAY SEASON. It is almost unknown to hear of the joy of a young women Mary, the confusion of a man named Joseph, and the birth of the Saviour of humanity born in the filth of a stable amongst animals.
Any Smithson, a so called Christian and family counselor, In his podcast on TRUE PARENTING, had this to say about Santa Clause:"Santa Claus is a symbol of the true meaning of Christmas, the reason for the season. His names come from the source of Christmas, Christ himself and from a man that gave freely and represents the best that there is in mankind. Santa is a symbol of the greatest gifts of heaven and earth. He draws our eyes to heaven and invites us to believe in something greater than ourselves, something we cannot see but we can feel and know, as we know the feel of wind on our faces. Santa allows us as parents to offer gifts to our children without expectation of recognition or thanks. It allows us the joy of giving in secret. It allows us to take on the challenge of becoming Santa. To become Santa means to increase in kindness, and in generosity. Becoming Santa means that we listen a little more intently and smile a little more genuinely. It means we give a little more and take a little less."
what more can I say with the modern mentality of American consumerism that has poisoned the Church globally, to take away Christ, and bring in a figment of someone's imagination. After all, what is the celebration of Christmas about? What meaning does the birth of Christ have for each and every one of us? We can behold the meaning of Christmas through the eyes of the Old Testament prophets, who looked to the day of the coming of the Messiah. We can perhaps find the meaning of Christmas through the eyes of a young girl named Mary, shocked and fearful, being highly favored to birth the Lord of all creation, or even through the eyes of Joseph who was just to fulfill God's plan. May be we can approach the birth of our Lord Jesus through the eyes of Herod, power hungry and insecure to see the birth of another King.
However let us today, choose to look at the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour to the world through the eyes of the Apostle Paul, who beautifully presents to us the significance and true meaning of Christmas. Where you might as that Paul speaks about Christmas, we Let us turn our attention to Philippians chapter 2, where will see the real story of Christmas, and understand the authentic meaning of the birth of our Lord. Let us pray!
Let us read Philippians 2: 6-11: 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! 9 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.
These verses are indeed golden verses which present to us the depth and majesty of Christ who is undeniably God in the beginning and ends with Christ as Lord. When we read in this Scripture that Christ was in the very nature of God, or the form of God, it does not mean that Christ resembled God, but that actually Christ IS God.
In this passage of Scripture, we see God Himself, humbling himself or coming to a place of enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself, by taking the form of a man, to die, and then come to a place of exalted glory. And if we miss this point, we have missed the point of why Christmas is observed and cherished as an occasion. And we would fail to see one of the greatest plans in the history of mankind unfold to see the redemption of humankind. From this passage of scripture we would look at five steps in which we can understand the depth and significance of the birth of Christ and the reality of it in the context of our lives.
Let us now look at the five steps as God enters the world, five steps as Jesus comes to Bethlehem. Firstly God through Jesus Christ abandoned His SOVEREIGN POSITION. Christ existed as God throughout all eternity. Verse six states that: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;". He did not take power from God or usurp the position of God. At this point we must distinguish Christ's personal and positional equality with God. In His person, Christ was, and is, and will be equal to God. This is constant. Christ cannot give that up, but in His positional equality with God, we see that Christ through all eternity enjoyed the glories of heaven with the Father, but He did not hold on to that SOVERIEGN POSITION, but willingly relinquished His positional equality for the redemption of mankind. It was not a position that Christ held onto or grasped for His advantage. In other words Christ did not keep His privileges for Himself but laid them aside for the redemption of mankind.
A reporter was once interviewing a successful job counselor who had placed a multitude of workers in jobs were they were very satisfied. So the reporter asked him, what was the secret of his success. The job counselor replied: "If you want to see the real character of a worker, do not him, responsibilities, but give him privileges. Anybody can fulfill their responsibilities if they are paid well, but it takes a real leader to handle privileges. A true leader will use their privileges for the benefit of others and enhance the work place, while a weak leader would us privilege to promote himself." Jesus our Lord Saviour and Redeemer used His privilege for the glory of God, and for the sake of you and I.
Jesus, God incarnate, was cruelly treated, rejected, and humiliated. Jesus possessed the very nature of God, and that is why Matthew in his gospels states that He, Christ is Immanuel, which in Hebrew means God is with us. 2 Corinthians 8:9 states: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." Christ's mode of existence changed, but not His very nature of being God. Yet for our sakes, Christ descended to our lowly level, our poor mode of existence, which he took on together with our human nature.
Looking back to verse six, we find that Christ, did not hold on to His position as a right of privilege. For us to understand this let us contrast the attitude of Christ to that of Lucifer, and Adam. The fall of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-15 is considered as the fall of satan. Lucifer was once the highest of angels with the privilege of being close to the throne of God, however Lucifer had a keen desire to be on the throne of God. Here we find Lucifer saying I WILL, and Jesus saying THY WILL. Lucifer was a creation and desired to be the CREATOR, while Christ being the CREATOR condescended to becoming man a creation. Indeed the humility of Christ is a rebuke to the pride of satan.
Lucifer in his arrogance wanted to spread his venom of rebellion, entered the garden of Eden, and tempted man into rebellion with him. Adam had everything He had need needed and was given the privileged position of being in dominion over creation, but was lured by satan saying that:"You will be like God." Here man was wanting to grasp, lay hold on a privilege that was beyond his reach, and in doing so pulled himself down, together with all of creation into sin. Adam and Eve were selfish, thinking only of what they wanted, but Jesus our Lord laid His life down not for Himself, but for everyone.
Philippians chapter 2 verse 7 states: "rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." The words 'made himself nothing' also means that He emptied Himself' and this in the Greek is a verb which means to pour out until it s all gone. You might ask then, what did Jesus empty Himself of then? He definitely did not empty Himself of His deity, for as we have seem is His nature and very essence. He was God, and is God, possessing all the attributes of God, so what did Christ empty Himself of? Let is look at the latter part of verse seven which states: " taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.". In other words, He emptied Himself, by taking upon Himself, something which He was never before, and that is humanity. If Christ had been a man, He could not empty Himself. We cannot empty ourselves to be born. This is only what God can do. So when Christ was born in Bethlehem, He entered into an everlasting union with humanity, in which he could not, and would not abandon.
Christ took the form of a servant or the Greek word DOULOS which means slave. His incarnation meant that He would become a slave. Laying aside His precious crown, royal robes, and scepter of royal privilege, Christ as John describes in John 13:4-5: "so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.". The towel was the a badge of service of a slave. It was used by slaves in service to others, yet our Lord Jesus as Matthew 20:28 states: "…Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."When you read the gospels. you would find that nobody served Jesus, but He was at the command of other, tax collectors, harlots, fishermen, the infirm, and the grieving. This affirms that the humanity of Christ is as real as His deity. A mystery that our feeble minds cannot comprehend, but can tremble in holy awe at His marvelous love.
Here begins the story of Christmas, where God abandons His SOVEREIGN POSITION. Secondly Christ takes on a SLAVE'S PLACE, and goes on bended knees to serve unworthy man. Jesus thought of others and became a servant.
- He emptied himself by laying aside His independent use of His attributes as God.
- He permanently took on the form of a human, being sinless in His physical body.
- In His humanity, Christ became a servant to serve other.
- Taking His body to the cross, He willingly gave himself as a sacrifice for sin; and act of redemption to all mankind.
Christ abandoned His SOVEREIGN POSITION, secondly he took on a SLAVE'S PLACE, and thirdly CHRIST ASSOCIATED HIMSELF WITH THE SINNER.
God could have designed angels to fulfill His act of redemption, yet the Lord of glory Himself chose to humble Himself to the degree of becoming a slave in the likeness of a man to serve and to save. God Himself identified with humanity on every level, looked like an ordinary human being, not with a sullen face, flowing robes, and a halo on His head as we see in painting. He knew what it was to be cold, hungry, perspiring under harsh heat, nervous, joyful, and angry. He was born like any other human through a mother's womb. He grew from a baby to an adult as any other human. Nobody knew at that time, when they looked at Jesus they were beholding the very Lord of the Universe Himself.
He got hurt, He felt pain. He slept, He bathed, He worked, He walked, He studied, He ate, He went to the bathroom. He felt sad, He cried. Don’t believe what they tell you in certain Christmas carols. "The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, the little Lord Jesus no crying He makes." Huh! no crying, He was a human baby, with all the faculties of a human baby and of course He cried. In every sense, being sinless in body, Christ identified with sinful man. He was human in every way.
Philippians 2:8 states: " And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!" Fourthly we see Christ took on a SELFLESS POSITION. As we continue to reach each verse of our passage, we find that it brings us to an increasing depth into the humiliation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many people love to serve, but if there is a cost to be paid, they immediately lose interest. Jesus was obedient unto death, which means to the very end. The obedience of Christ upon the cross, was not cheap, but paid with the price of obedience. The blessing of redemption was given to us by His bleeding. Heaven's Darling was not allowed to die of old age upon a bed surrounded by the comfort of those around Him, but was given the cruel cross, execution that was reserved for criminals. It was not by chance that He had to die, but Christ our Lord had to endure the shameful death upon the cross.
His selfless position is seen when he remains silent at false accusations and lies thrown at Him. his selfless position is seen when He remains silent at the slap by the very hand He created. His selfless position is seen when drops of blood falls from the garden when He prays " Not my will, but your will be done". His selfless position is seen when the Lord of the universe had to been nailed on the very tree that He created.
This is what Augustine said on the selfless posture of Christ: , “The maker of man became man, that He, the ruler of the stars, might be nourished at the breast; that He, the bread, might be hungry; that He, the fountain, might thirst; that He, the light, might sleep; that He, the way, might be wearied by the journey; that He, the truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the judge of the living and the dead might be brought to trial by a corrupt mortal judge; that He, justice itself, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, discipline itself, might be scourged with whips; that He, the foundation, might be suspended upon a cross; that He, courage personified, might be weakened; and that He, security, might be wounded; and that He, the very life itself, might die. To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us unworthy creatures. He who existed as the Son of God before all ages, without a beginning, deigned it to become the Son of man in these years, did this though He who submitted to such great evils for our sake had done no evil and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, have done nothing but evil.”
The reality for us today is that we are saved by the obedience of Christ, His submission to the Father, His sacrifice, and His redemption. Jesus came to such a condescending place obedient to the very end, becoming a curse for us, dying a shameful death upon the cross. The sinless lamb of God taking on our sins, so that we can be called the children of God.
Jesus our Lord and Saviour gave up His SOVEREIGN POSITION, He took on a SLAVE'S POSITION, He ASSOCIATED HIMSELF WITH THE SINNER, took on a SELFLESS POSITION, and finally He ASCENDED AS LORD AND VICTOR. Our Lord Jesus, in matchless grace, journeyed from Bethlehem to Gethsemane, from Gethsemane to Calvary, and from Calvary as Lord Supreme. God highly exalted Jesus, for His wholehearted commitment and submission to the will of the Father of accomplishing redemption.
Philippians 2:9-11 reads: " Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Jesus humbled Himself and God 'exalted Him to the Highest place'. Jesus did not seek a name, but God 'gave Him a name that is above every other name. The Lord Jesus bent His knees in service to others, and God has decreed that every knee will bow to Him.
God raised Christ from the dead, the last thing that human hands did to Christ was to bury Him, and then God took over, giving Him life, ascending into Heaven Christ too k His seat at the right hand of the Father. In majesty and glory eternally, forevermore. God has given Him a name, which is not the earthly name Jesus, the name above every other name, and that is Lord. And every knee will bow, to those in the heaven and on the earth and below the earth, with their tongue confessing Jesus Christ as Lord.
The Cross has seen the finality of the humiliation of Christ, as He is forever exalted, highly lifted up, at the right hand of the Father. Christ is restored to His glory, His full privilege and with full use of His will, for he has accomplished the plan of redemption, for there is none other worthy except Him.
Indeed those who deny Him as Lord will one day admit that they have been the fool, to have rejected Him, Jesus of Nazareth the Lord of Glory. If you have not confessed Him as Lord, don't wait for the end, but look to Him now, call up Him. Romans 10:9-19 states: "If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."
You have every opportunity now to confess Him as Lord, use this time to call upon him, rather than when you are in eternal pain and suffering. Today when you confess Christ as Lord, you will find grace and mercy, to be joint heirs with Christ and share in His Kingdom.
For Christ, abandoned His Sovereign position, taking on a slaves position, identifying Himself with the sinner's position, taking on a selfless position, and finally exalted the highest position. Utterly humiliated by the cross, He arises as victor, and waits for you to receive the salvation that He offers. And that my friend is the true meaning of Christmas.