Text: Philippians 2: 6-7 “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.”
Sometime ago I read a book that followed the theme of, “If I were God…” That phrase really captures our imaginations at time. “If I were God I would never have allowed the serpent to enter the Garden of Eden.” “If I were God, I would never have required Jesus to suffer on the Cross.” “If I were God, I would never have created Mosquitoes.” And it goes downhill from there… And quickly we realize, “If I were God, I would have completely messed up everything!” The truth is, God’s ways are infinitely superior to our human way of doing things. And because we are finite we are not capable of always understanding everything that God does. If we could, then we would be as smart as God and we wouldn’t even need Him. So I have to conclude this train of thought by saying, “Thank God, I am not God!” The world is and will be a better place because God is God!
Last week, we focused on The Miracle of the Moment as we considered the “Set time when God sent His Son into the world”(Galatians 4:4). On this second Sunday of Advent, let’s consider The Miracle of God’s Christmas Method.
If I were God I wonder how I would have orchestrated that first Christmas? Of all the ways God could have done it, He chose to introduce Jesus to the world in His own unique, creative way. Let’s consider:
I. THE DIVINE PERSPECTIVE OF GOD’S METHOD.
a. Our scripture reading gives us a glimpse of that Divine perspective. Scholars believe that the Apostle Paul probably was quoting from a 1st century creed or poem that would have been familiar to the people of Philippi. It is a statement defining the nature of Christ and His reason for coming into our world. A key progression in this passage is as follows: “Being in very nature God…equality with God [was not] something to be used to his own advantage…He made himself nothing…” In essence, we are being told that Christ was God who decided to limit himself in such a way as to become a human being.
b. The Apostle John was saying the same thing in his opening chapter to the Gospel that bears his name. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1:1, 14a).
c. Illustrate: I am not very smart when it comes to technology. Whenever I have computer or electronic problems I try to get my son or daughter to come fix it for me. But there has been a few times when I broke down and called a helpline. The last time I did so the person to whom I spoke was obviously not from Arkansas or Missouri or anywhere else in the United States. After about 30 minutes I got up enough nerve to ask him where he actually was. I found out he was at his home in India. Struggling with the language difficulty, I also was hindered by my lack of understanding of what was what—there are so many different switches, and so many different codes, and so many different words that the techies know that are completely foreign to me. After much frustration and lack of progress in setting up the system, I thought to myself. I wish this guy could just pick up and come to my house and fix this mess! And I finally had someone else call the help line for me and work through setting up the system!
d. Do you see the point? God knew we could never comprehend His plan by Him just telling us. The Plan of Salvation must be demonstrated. So God decided just to come down to where we are and walk through His provision for us. So He came as Jesus to show us the Father and to show us the way to salvation!
e. Why did He do it that way? Because He knew that was how He could rescue us from our sins and save us from destruction and restore us to the Family of God!
f. Would I have done it that way? I’m not God. I never would have figured it out. And when it comes right down to it, I don’t know if I would have had the strength to follow His Plan. Romans 8:32 say, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” I only have one son—Justin. Would I be willing to sacrifice him for any reason? I hope I never have to be faced with that decision. But God was willing to do just that—His Method was far beyond my human understanding. It was a Miracle of Love that caused God to come to save the world!
II. THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE OF GOD’S METHOD.
a. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us a glimpse of the human conditions surrounding the birth of Jesus. Matthew’s account is given from Joseph’s perspective. Joseph is engaged to be married. At some point after the engagement Mary disappeared for three months. When she returned Joseph discovered that she was pregnant and he knew that the expected child was not his. After considering the situation he decided to divorce her (in their culture their engagement was a legally bounding relationship that could only be ended with legal action—in this case divorce). And it was only after the Angel of God spoke to Joseph in a dream and reassured him that Mary was innocent and that the child was God’s child, that Joseph followed through with the marriage arrangement.
b. Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus is told from Mary’s perspective. We read of the Angel’s announcement, of Mary’s commitment to obey God, and then we read how Joseph and Mary left Nazareth and traveled some 70+ miles to Bethlehem because of a Poll tax and census that was placed on the country by Rome. And we read of the inconvenience of the birth—no room in the inn, birth in a stable with a manger (feed trough) as a cradle. The whole account speaks of human misery and inconvenience and even poverty.
c. These two accounts seem so inadequate from the human perspective. This is God’s Son, the One who was promised by the prophets centuries earlier, the One who was to be the everlasting King, the Savior of the World.
d. Why did God choose to enter the world in this condition? Men have pondered that question for centuries—a person would think that the King of kings would have been born in a palace with all the luxuries that normally surround royalty. And we have to remember Isaiah 55: 8-9 which says, ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
e. Without knowing the Divine involvement in this account, we have to acknowledge that the details of this challenge the human understanding. The young pregnant Mary and the Virgin Birth goes way beyond human comprehension. And why would God choose to enter the world as a baby and in such impoverished circumstances? Perhaps God wants us to understand that we should be slow to judge people and circumstances that we do not understand. And perhaps the humble surroundings of Jesus’ birth should remind us of the value of humanity at every level of the economic class system!
f. The Method from both a Divine and a Human perspective is a Miracle of God. And we celebrate that miracle as we prepare to celebrate the birthday of Jesus!
III. THE IMPLICATIONS OF GOD’S METHOD
a. Could God have done things differently? Remembering that this is the God who is of such infinite variety that no two sunrises or sunsets are the same, no two snowflakes are identical, no two persons have the same fingerprints, how can I say that this was the only way He could have provided for our salvation. But what I can say is this: This is the way God chose to fulfill His plan for our salvation. He chose to come into our world as Jesus. He chose to live among us and reveal to us that He is a God of love and Mercy. He chose to atone for our sins by sacrificing Himself on the Cross, dying for our sins though He was sinless. He chose to be raised from the grave, conquering Death, Hell, and Satan. And He chose to save all those who believe in Him and accept His atoning death as payment for their sins. Jesus chose to sit at the right hand of God the Father to intercede for us. And He has chosen to come again to claim His Bride—the Church—which is composed of all those who have forsaken their sins and put their faith in Christ and are following His commands.
Advent is the season of preparation and soul-searching as we prepare to celebrate the Birth of Christ—God’s miraculous Method of entering the world as the perfect Human in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily.
As we think of the Miraculous Method of the Virgin Birth, we do so from the perspective of the Cross and the empty Tomb which climaxed His earthly life.
And as the songwriter said, when Mary touched the face of her baby, she touched the face of God.
The Method God used was an intensely personal method. The Miracle God used that first Christmas is that He chose to reveal His face to us in Jesus and, as a human, he touched our lives with His love and grace in a way that only He could do.
Has he touched your life? Wouldn’t you like for Him to do so?