2 CORINTHIANS 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
During Advent we read through Christ’s birth narrative in Luke. In the King James translation, it is some of the most beautiful writing in the world. It has a little bit of almost everything: surprise…faithful obedience…pathos… suspense…sheep. And it’s got glory. Full throttle, wide-eyed, Oh Wow!-type GLORY!!!!Those who would usually be in heaven singing “Holy…Holy…Holy!” were down below singing “Glory be to God in the Highest, and on earth Peace, goodwill toward men.” The text tells us that a multitude of the heavenly host joined the first angel, praising God. They were down here celebrating Christ’s…humiliation.
Even before the incarnation, Christ was rich beyond anything we could possibly imagine. Our minds and language don’t have the thoughts or words to express it. He was God the Son even before He became man, equal in power and glory with the Father, Yahweh. But He gave up all of that richness to become poor for us. He became humble…He was humiliated.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism question 27 asks it this way: “Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?”
It answers: “Christ’s humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.”
The Catechism describes Christ’s humiliation as beginning in the manger of the Nativity and ending at the resurrection. It is a whole. The world, if they regard the nativity at all, sees only a cute baby in a manger, and much of the church seems to agree with them. We must understand that manger and cross are inseparable, and that the ‘cute baby’ is born crucified…for us. The little child of Bethlehem is also the Son of God going forth to war with Satan.
God’s glory is infrequently so manifestly revealed in Scripture. The nation Israel sees Yahweh’s glory upon the mountain, and is led by the glory-cloud through the wilderness. Moses sees the glory of God’s backside, and his face glows from the experience. The glory-cloud of God appears in the commissioning of the Tabernacle and Temple. But at all those times, the response of joy (or fear) is that of men. Only at the nativity do we see heaven itself celebrate. That should speak volumes to us about how truly glorious is Christ’s humiliation.
—Pastor Tom Brainerd, Trinity Reformed Church, Edgewood, NM
Father, we join with the angel chorus in praising You for Your covenant faithfulness. By Your Holy Spirit enable us to comprehend that which You have revealed to us in the coming of Christ at Christmas. May we and Christ’s whole church look past the cuteness of the child in the manger and see the glory of Christ’s humiliation in your plan of redemption. AMEN
Sing (or read) Infant Holy, Infant Lowly and The Son of God Goes Forth to War.
The riches we possess bear no relationship to those Christ gave up for us. But absolutely everything we have and are has been given to us by God. Spiritually and materially, all of our riches are from Him. Consider with your family tangible ways in which you might give up some of your ‘riches’, whether money or time or even comfort, and take on some poverty in order to share the riches of Christ. We could all stand a little humiliation. It’s truly glorious.