God With Us - Part 3
For the sake of perspective, I would like to begin this post quoting from John 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [or overcome] it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
The birth of Jesus as a human baby demonstrates infinite humility on the part of God. Jesus living and walking among us was the ultimate revelation of who God is. All the laws and lessons and stories and nuances of the character of God revealed in human form.
God With Us
This is our third post of our "God With Us" series.
We have seen God’s desire to be with us revealed clearly on the seventh day of creation. (blog post here) We discussed the practical impact that “God with us” should have in our lives as we looked at the story of the crossing of the Red Sea. (blog post here) And on this post we will try to better grasp what the birth of Jesus means. What it teaches us about God and what it means to us today.
There is a book on the life of Jesus entitle "The Desire of Ages" and it open with the following words,
"His name shall be called Immanuel, . . . God with us." "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is seen "in the face of Jesus Christ." From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father; He was "the image of God," the image of His greatness and majesty, "the outshining of His glory." It was to manifest this glory that He came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal the light of God's love,--to be "God with us." Therefore it was prophesied of Him, "His name shall be called Immanuel." (Desire of Ages 19)
Jesus, Creator among His creation
As we look at the world, we can’t help but be amazed by it all. The world amazes us by its size, how tall trees and mountains can be, how deep the caves and the ocean floor can be, the mysteries that our planet holds from massive weather patterns to the smallest insects, snowflakes, and single-celled organism. There is just so much wonder, in our world. That’s not counting what exists outside our world, the sun, moon and stars and the expanse of the universe. We can spend eternity studying and learning about all that exists around us.
I mention this because it helps frame a better understanding of Colossians 1:15-20, where speaking about Jesus Paul writes
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Marveling at creation helps us better grasp what it meant for the Creator to decide to be born among us.
Do you realize the full extent of this!? I have been reading this passage for years, and it still amazes me every time. The more I think about it, the more it escapes the grasp of my mind.
The entirety of reality consists in Jesus.
All the things that boggle our mind exist because of Him. Jesus created, Jesus maintains, Jesus understands.
This same Jesus, set His infinite power and glory aside to walk among us.
To be born in a stable.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Humility and Service
Here we have one of the core messages of the incarnation, God’s humility. God is willing to humble himself in order to teach and save us. God loves us that much!
“But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. "I do nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father." "I seek not Mine own glory," but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.”
Now notice the contrast we see regarding Satan found in Isaiah 14.
“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
Lucifer is the opposite, and so is the root of all sin, placing ourselves above God. Lucifer wanted to be God and he tempts us in similar ways. Lucifer tries to portray God as keeping good things from us (discussed further here), while God reveals Himself as the giver of all good things, including His only Son.
It is not coincidence that the first commandment deals with worshiping other gods. We tend to think about this as bowing before an image so we think we are not guilty of it. But whenever anything outranks God in our lives, we just broke the first commandment.
We may not bow down to statues, but do we place ourselves above God? Our desires, our feelings, our possessions, our relationships, our work, our love of comfort, etc?
Jesus our example
Imagine, the creator God. Who sustains all of reality, being born as a baby, in a stable. I try to imagine the smell, the flies, the discomfort. Jesus experienced being a refugee, hunger, being misunderstood, he had people plotting behind His back, twisting His words. Jesus only did good and yet, was hated, persecuted, and killed.
Have you ever tried to help someone, done your best, sacrificed, only to have them turn around and offend you and attack you?
Jesus knows what that is like.
Jesus came and went through all that because He really wanted us to understand that God loves us, and to offer us salvation, eternal life.
There is a story of a man who had a flock of geese land on his property. He went out and threw some corn for them and watched them for a while. He enjoyed their temporary company as they headed south for the winter.
That night however, a snowstorm blew in unexpectedly.
The temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and it got really nasty outside.
Inside the safety and comfort of his warm house the man thought of the geese, grabbed his heaviest coat and and ran outside to see what he could do.
Outside he saw the barn and decided to open its doors. Inside there was no heater but at least the birds would be protected from the wind and snow.
The problem was, the geese were not going in. The man opened the door, the turned on the light, but the geese were all outside. He tried throwing food, but in the midst of all the wind and snow they didn’t see it, or didn’t care. The man then tried to herd them in, but they refused, they kept going around him and running in every direction except into the barn.
Frustrated the man wished he could communicate with the geese. If only he could explain that he wanted to help, that he was a friend, that they did not have to be afraid of him. If he could only become a goose and guide them into the barn.
The illustration is not perfect, but I think you get the idea. Throughout the Bible God can never show up to someone without having to say “Don’t be afraid.”
But Jesus could have children sit on His lap without being afraid. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus gave up so much, everything, for us.
Is it too much for us to give ourselves to Him?
Is it too much to give up that which we cannot keep to gain that which we cannot lose?
Today, this week, this Christmas, despite all the distractions, can you take time to ponder what God has done for you?
Can you make room in your heart for Him?
Do not harden your heart. Invite Jesus in, and let Him change you. Trust Him, He knows what is best and He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
Invite Jesus in, give Him your heart.
And as we give our hearts to Him, let us be more like him, willing to give for the benefits of others.
And I am not talking about money. Money is easy to give and think of yourself as a good person.
This holiday season, I want you to give your time, your attention and your affection. Maybe even money as necessary, but monetary gifts flow naturally, they follow the heart.
Give time to a child, play with her. Give attention to a teenager, listen to him, without judgment. Give time to a parent or grandparent, listen to their stories. Turn off the TV, put away the phone, and give of yourself. Do something together, be present with loved ones.
Ask God to show you someone that you can give love, time, and attention to. And do it intentionally, do it desiring the best for the other, do it to be a blessing in their life.
I challenge you to give yourself, to give love, inspired by what Jesus gave. We can never match Jesus’ gift and we don’t have to. We just need to be willing to give what we have, according to His will, in order to be a blessing in the life of someone else.