“…though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).
Christmas is that time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. All of us have celebrated our birthdays at some time. It is an occasion to remember the day when we entered this world and to thank God for giving us another year to live. At this time, we always think of our birthday and never about our death-day. However, in Jesus’ case, He was born in the shadow of the Cross. He was born to die! When we celebrate His birthday, we often make a crib – a symbol of the manger in which He was born. As good as this is, in reminding us of His birth-place, we tend to forget that He is no longer there and He is no longer a baby either. Sure, it is good to have a crib especially to teach the young ones the Christmas story of His birth. But to end the celebrations with a baby Jesus and a crib would be to miss the point completely. When we celebrate our birthdays, we hardly take out the albums to look at our baby pictures and neither do we reminisce about the location of our birth. We always celebrate in the present according to our state-of-life today. Approaching Christmas from this perspective enables us to understand the full purpose of why Jesus was born in the first place.
So the key question – Why was Jesus born? Among the many reasons that the Bible gives, the key one is just this: Sin had entered the human race through the first Adam (Rom 5:12) rendering all men as sinners and incapable of saving themselves (Rom 3:23). St. Augustine states clearly: “Through Adam’s sin, his whole posterity were corrupted and were born under penalty of death, which he [Adam] had incurred” (Enchiridion Ch 26). Hence, a sinless saviour was needed to appease the wrath of God that is aimed toward sin (See Col 3:5-6 & Rom 1:18). In the fullness of time, the Father sent His only Son (who was fully God) into the human race to become fully man (while still fully God) to die on the Cross and shed His sinless blood so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish in their sinful state but could be saved and have eternal life (John 3:16). St. John goes on to say: “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:17-18). This is stern enough, but not the end of the story. John 3:36 further states: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him”.
This is the main reason why Jesus was born – to die on the Cross – in order to reconcile man back to God and thereby free him from condemnation! Therefore Jesus stated in John 14:6 “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, no one comes to the Father, but by me”.
St, Augustine again states in Chapter 51 of his Enchiridion: All men born of Adam are under condemnation, and only if new-born in Christ are freed from condemnation. This is the main reason why Jesus was born – to die on the Cross – in order to reconcile man back to God and thereby free him from condemnation! Therefore Jesus stated in John 14:6 “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, no one comes to the Father, but by me”.
Did Jesus know that He was born to die for the sins of men? Yes, for we are told that this plan of salvation – to slay His only Son as a means of salvation was formed by the Father before the foundation of the world (Rev 3:18). Hence we are not surprised at our opening text above in Phil 2:6-8. Although Jesus was fully God at every point, He did not count this equality with God as a status to prevent Him from condescending to earth and dying a criminal’s death. God’s law stated: that without the shedding of blood there could be no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:22). So Jesus had to take on human form so that he could have blood in His veins, sinless blood as He was born of the Holy Spirit and not of Man (see Luke 1:35 & St. Augustine’s Enchiridion Ch 37). He did not hesitate about doing this for a single moment even, but laid aside His glory as the only Son of God and took on human form thereby restricting Himself to the limitations of human flesh (a scary thought) and was born amongst us in the midst of Sin in its vilest depravity. In doing this, He humbled Himself as the Creator by taking on the lower form of the creature and submitted Himself to that depraved creature – Man! And Man (that is you and me, men and women) killed Him, the Lord of Glory as we could not stand His holiness and its radiant testimony against us. He knew this would happen, but did not attempt to bypass it, instead set His face like a flint towards Calvary. For this reason He had come, to do the will of His Father planned before the foundation of the world. Yes, he was Born to Die, that you and I might live and move and have our being in Him! (Acts 17:28).
Application: Beloved, Christmas is about Him, not you and me. It commemorates His birth and the reason He was born. He was born to die that you and I might live through Him, provided we believe in Him. Come to Him with all your broken toys and self-centred joys. The Saviour is waiting to enter your heart. He stands on the outside and knocks gently saying: If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me (Rev 3:20). If you have never done this before, now open your heart to the Redeemer that you might be freed from condemnation and guilt and be made into a new creation through Christ!