Christmas celebrates the greatest act of self-humiliation in history.
By “humiliation” I don’t mean someone accidentally embarrassing himself but intentionally lowering himself, taking an infinitely low position. Going from the highest position in glory to the lowest place of degradation.
So 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. PHP 2.1-7
First of all it is staggering that the glorious One – the Creator of the universe, the One the angels worship – would become a human being. This is an act of infinite humiliation because God is infinite in his being. There are no bounds to his greatness, majesty and glory. For him to become a man was an act of infinite self-humbling.
But God didn’t simply become human. He became a lowly human. He was born to poor parents and laid in a feeding trough as an infant. He came from Nazareth, which was considered “the sticks” in his day. Nathanael asked “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” which reflected how people viewed Jesus’ town. He was viewed with disrespect as an illegitimate child since everyone knew his mother had become pregnant before marriage. In his ministry he hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors and other “sinners” and low-lifes.
But beyond human “humiliation”, the greatest “degradation” Jesus took on was to become sin in God’s sight.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 CO 5.21
Jesus became the most despicable thing in God’s sight – sin.
You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong…HAB 1.13
Jesus, the infinitely holy and pure one became the infinite opposite – the thing that was most of offensive and disgusting to God – sin itself.
And why did he do this? For us. To rescue us. To redeem us. To lift us up to an unbelievable place of status and glory. To make us joint heirs with himself. To make us like himself in his glory and beauty.
Christmas is about the biggest comedown in history. And the greatest lifting up.
So this Christmas and coming year let’s try to imitate Jesus. Let’s serve others wherever and however we can. Lay down our lives. Look to the interests of others. And count them to be more significant than ourselves.