Saturday, December 19, 2009

Five Points...of Christmas

...being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2: 6,7
In these two verses Paul supplies a brief christology containing five nonnegotiable propositional statements. Think of it as the Christmas Story in its very essence. Leave out one of these truths and you will miss the gravity of the event in Bethlehem for which an ordinary manger was appropriated as the royal basinet for the King of kings.

First, He pre-existed His human conception and birth, or better, pre-subsisted, since, being God, His power to be came from His own essence as the Creator rather than from the dependence a created being has upon the Creator. The present participle conveys the eternal precedence of His being.

Secondly, as God in very essence, though He was rightfully entitled to every Divine privilege and prerogative, He did not cling to or grasp these entitlements when He humbled Himself as Paul describes in these verses.

Thirdly, He "made Himself of no reputation", or literally from the Greek text, He "emptied Himself," not of attributes or essence, but temporarily of His lofty position high above the heavens and the earth, and of His unapproachable splendor on His exalted throne. Instead, He lay as a helpless newborn in a feeding trough for animals as His family struggled to comply with an edict issued by a pagan dictator.

Fourthly, He "took upon Him the form of a servant." The extent of this servanthood is described in the rest of verse seven and in verse 8, stating that Jesus became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. The purpose of His being conceived as a human in the womb of His virgin human mother, so He could be born as a human infant, and grow up as a man, was so He would go to the cross and pay the sin-debt that we could not pay.

Finally, He "was made in the likeness of men." And this addition of the human nature to the fully Divine nature of God the Son, the eternal Logos, is permanent. Even after His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus Christ remains, for all eternity, the God-Man, fully Divine and fully human, a dual nature in one Person.

We might call them the Five Points of Christmas. If they are not the core of your Christmas celebration, then you are celebrating something other than Christmas.