God With Us

December 25, 2016
Matthew 1:18-25
Abraham Hong

 

During this time of year, we celebrate the incarnation of the second person of the Triune God. We celebrate Jesus Christ becoming a human being.

We marvel at the glorious fact that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. We are amazed that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We give thanks that the promised offspring who crushes the head of the serpent would be God himself. We bow down before Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

The marvelous and amazing incarnation of Christ. That is what Christmas is about.

I hope that you would believe in the incarnation of Christ with all of your heart. I hope that you would appreciate the seriousness of the matter. And I hope that you would not take your faith for granted. Many people in the world do not believe in the incarnation of Christ. They consider it scandalous or stupid to say that God would take on human nature. Think of the Jews who crucified Christ. They put him to death because they rejected the idea that Jesus was God. It was blasphemous to them. It didn’t compute in their brains. It was offensive to their religion. And so they concluded that Jesus was a liar. And they mocked our Lord’s incarnation, crying out, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”

They would have been right if Jesus did not resurrect from the dead. But he did. And so today we believe in both Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. We believe that Jesus is both fully human and fully God. We may never understand how such a wonderful thing is possible. And yet we believe in this wonderful thing with all of our hearts.

But why did Jesus become a human being?

Jesus didn’t become human so that Decembers would be cozy. Jesus became human so that you would be saved. He became a human being in order to represent us and fulfill the covenant of works that Adam failed to keep… for us. He became a human being in order to perform obedience to the law.

Therefore, the incarnation of Christ was necessary for our salvation. It was not a publicity stunt. It was not meant to be a nice story that would go well with some chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The incarnation of Christ was absolutely necessary for our salvation. When you strip away all the coziness of Christmas, all the nostalgia and romance, all the warmth and lights and toys and candy canes, you’re actually left with a profound theological truth and a critical component of our salvation. The foundation for the forgiveness of our sins was being laid down when the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. It was the promise of perfect righteousness and eternal life that came upon the midnight clear. And on that silent night, on that holy night, when all was calm and all was bright, the Son of God would face the prospect of a terrible and dark but necessary day at Calvary. Jesus Christ became human in order to save us.

And the Lord’s incarnation is also his humiliation.

Our Lord became a human being. He emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. That is humiliation. Our Lord was born into a poor family and had no social standing among men. He he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. That is humiliation. Our Lord subjected himself to the law - to his law that we are supposed to obey. He was born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. That is humiliation. Our Lord experienced human misery. He knew hunger and loneliness. He wept when Lazarus died. He endured the betrayal of Judas and the abandonment of Peter and all his disciples. He was scorned and rejected by Israel. That is humiliation. And finally, our Lord suffered and died. He was condemned by Pontius Pilate and traded for a criminal. He was beaten and mocked by the soldiers at Calvary. Think about his body and his blood, the crown of thorns and the nails in his hands and feet. Think about how he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Think about how Jesus bore the wrath of God as an sacrificial offering for your sin. Think about how he died for you. That is humiliation.

Every New Years, Asian children bow down to their parents to give honor and respect. They stand before their parents and then get down on their knees and bow all the way down to the ground in deep humility. But imagine parents bowing down to their children. Can you even imagine such a thing happening? If you can, then you can begin to grasp the incarnation and humiliation of Christ… for us. When Jesus laid asleep on the hay, it was him saying to you, “You are more important than me.” When Jesus sweated drops of blood at Gethsemane, it was him saying to you, “I love you.” And when Jesus died on the cross, it was him saying to you, “I am with you.”

Brothers and sisters, our King is a humble king. Our Lord came to serve us. Our God came to us as a human being. Our Creator laid down his glory. And he did all of this for the sake of our salvation. Let us be in awe of who our Lord is and what he did for us. There is no greater humility than this. There is no greater love than this.

This is what we celebrate during Christmastime.

As we celebrate, let us be encouraged by the fact that God is with us. Though he had no sin, he knows what it is like to be human. He knows what it is like to suffer. He knows what it is like to be hungry or alone. He knows what it is like to endure pain. He knows what it is like to die. He knows all of these things because he became human. Therefore, let us be encouraged by the fact that Jesus is with us.

And as we celebrate, let us also change our ways. As we wait for the return of Christ and his kingdom, let us love one another as Christ first loved us. “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

End