Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Christmas Means to Me..

This was a question that was posted on the Facebook page of my first Pastor- Pastor Rodney Finch of Calvary Chapel Cary. So, what does Christmas mean to me? As I asked myself that question, a scripture passage came to mind. It is still there with me this morning, reminding me what Christmas is all about.
Philippians 2:6-11 states, “Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of man, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, of those on earth and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
We all know the story of Christmas, we have read the story in our bibles, we have seen the movies, and we have sung the carols, but have we truly understood the purpose and the reason behind Christmas? I read some of the answers of others who stated that Christmas was about family, fellowship and spending time with those we love. And that is true, but there is something greater, something deeper hidden within the Christmas story that we miss so many times. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, presents to buy, cookies to bake, parties to attend. But let us take a moment to stop and see why Christmas took place.
Philippians says that Jesus was “in the form of God”, meaning that Jesus was God. John 1:1-4 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was the life and the life was the light of men.” Jesus was with God and Jesus is God. I am not going to even attempt to explain the Trinity, because I myself do not understand it. But what I do want us to see is that Jesus was God, seated in heaven, upon His throne.
The bible goes on to tell us that, “He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of man,” He left His heavenly throne to come to earth. He made Himself of no reputation to me says that He stripped Himself of being God (so to speak) so that He could take upon Himself sinful flesh. Our God is a just and pure God. He cannot dwell with sin, when Adam and Eve sinned; God had to cast them from His presence. He never left them, but He could no longer dwell with them. Genesis tells us that God cast them from the Garden. No longer could God the Father be a part of them because He cannot abide with or dwell with sin. But Jesus left His place in heaven just so that He could put on the sinful flesh- for you. He was God and is God, but He set it all aside (so to speak) long enough to come to the earth for you. It would be like you, just getting out of the shower all fresh and clean, not a speck of dirt on you, and as soon as you stepped out of the shower you fall into a pile of composted manure. That is what comes to mind when I think of my God taking upon Himself sinful flesh.
Philippians goes on to tell us that “He humbled Himself”, He left the richness and fullness of heaven to be born in the lowliest place on earth, a stable, a barn, a manger (whatever you want to call it) He left the purity of Heaven to be born in the dirtiest of places for you. He could have chosen some fine castle, or some wealthy parents to be born to, but He didn’t. He chose to be born in the lowliest of places to the poorest of parents. Why? Because it is not about earthly things, like homes and presents and cars and money, no it is about your sin and your Savior Who came to carry all those sins to the cross.
Jesus took upon Himself sinful flesh, and grew and lived in a body of sin and death, just so that you could have eternal life and a relationship with Him. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus knows the struggles that we have in this body of sin, He had them to. But He did not sin; therefore He has won the victory. He struggled with sin, just as we do- but He conquered sin, so that He could help us through ours. Make sense?
We know that Jesus grew as a child; He became a man and went to the cross to die for our sins. He went through every possible trial and tribulation just so that He could say to you, “I understand. I do sympathize with you; I was there, living in the midst of sin- just so I could be here for you.”  How do we know He suffered as we have suffered? It is in His Word- His Holy Bible, written in the pages of His book which He has given to us to be our example for living this life.
Jesus “became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” The bible tells us that “for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) He willingly and joyfully suffered beatings, mocking, thirst, hunger, thorns pressed into His head, and nails pounded into His flesh, for you.  Philippians also tells us that “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” So is that why Jesus did all this? Is that why Jesus put upon Himself the one thing He cannot be near- sin, and then willingly suffered horrendous death, just so that He could be exalted. No, He did it only with you on His mind.
If you were the only person in the entire existence of mankind to believe that He was your Messiah, your God, Your Savior, then He still would have done it all, He would have done exactly the same thing-all because of you. As He laid in that tiny manger, shivering in the cold, you were on His mind. As the angels sang of His arrival, and shepherds kneeled at His side, as men from the east brought their gifts to Him, you were on His mind. So what does Christmas mean to me? It means that I have a God that was willing to forsake all just so that He could come and save me. Christmas is all about you, because He did it all for you. My heart is full of joy and humbled this morning as well, as I remember the wondrous and glorious reason for this season we call, Christmas.
Merry Christmas, and may you bow your knees and may your tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, forever and ever-Amen.