Philippians 2:7 says, “But [God] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
There is no way that we can truly grasp what happened on the very first Christmas. Only God Himself and the host of heaven know who Jesus was before He became a tiny infant. All of heaven trusted God, but I’m sure they were amazed and maybe even a bit mystified when it occurred. Can you imagine seeing God in all His majesty choosing to become the most vulnerable of all humans? After they got over their initial shock, it seems they were a bit excited. Luke 2:13-14 says, “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”
It seems like a curtain was drawn back and God let us see what was taking place in heaven in that moment. All of heaven must have been astounded that their God had humbled Himself, sucked Himself in (as my husband says) enough to become a tiny child. He could have appeared as a man in the middle of the wilderness with a great bio, but He chose to live among us as the most vulnerable. I’m getting a little excited myself!
Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament tells us that the phrase “but emptied Himself” is really rendered from one word in the Greek. Barnes says that this is the only time this word occurs in the entire Bible. (I think it’s because no other event in history can compare with what Jesus did for us.) Barnes says, “It is applied to a case where one lays aside his rank and dignity, and becomes, in respect to that, as nothing.”
We view a tiny babe as the most precious thing on earth, but in comparison to God’s glory it was like He became nothing. Who else but Jesus has really done this in all of history? Who else but Jesus laid aside all rank and privileges to bring a bridge to a dying race? Actually, to become the bridge for a dying race.
Barnes also gives an amazing example of this by saying, “When the sun is obscured by a cloud, or in an eclipse, there is no real change of its glory, nor are his beams extinguished, nor is the sun himself in any measure changed. His luster is only for a time obscured. So it might have been in regard to the manifestation of the glory of the Son of God.”
Wow! The sun is still the sun no matter the clouds and our God was (and is) still God no matter the mantle of humanity. That’s what really happened at Christmas! God sucked Himself in, clothed Himself with humanity and took the form of a vulnerable baby. Oh, what a Savior!
The God who had no need of food, felt the gnawing pain of hunger for us.
The God who never knew thirst, became thirsty for us.
The God who never tires was overcome with sleep.
The God who was worshipped in majesty beyond our imagination became rejected and ridiculed… for us.
That’s what happened at Christmas! Let’s give Him glory today.