Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7 NIV)
Christmas is a time of exchanges.
Cards are exchanged, visits are exchanged, and presents are exchanged around the tree on Christmas Day, with the unwanted ones exchanged at the store on Boxing Day.
But there is a bigger exchange to focus on at Christmas time. The creator of the universe exchanges heaven for earth. The eternal one who can be neither created nor destroyed willingly becomes subject to birth and death as he takes on human likeness.
This is one sent from God as never before. This is no mere prophet, no mere messenger or guru. This is the one who was in very nature God, this is Emmanuel, God with us, (Matthew 1:23) who exchanged the throne of heaven for a manger (Luke 2:12).
John tells us,
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-4, 14)
Christmas celebrates the appearing of that eternal Word in our midst.
Christmas is the Most High God taking on sinful human flesh, participating in all that is painful, hurtful and limited in order to redeem us and provide reconciliation for us.
Divinity exchanges heaven for a life on earth to undo Adam’s sin and restore us to the image of God given at creation but spoiled by sin.
This is the wonderful exchange Christmas asks us to consider: God became like us in order that we can become like God. God took on human life and accepted death so that we might die to our old self and be raised to new life in Christ.
As Charles Wesley puts it in his majestic carol ‘Hark the herald angels sing’:
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the new born King!”
Let us join with the angels and give glory to the new born king.
Father, we join the triumph of the skies and with the angelic host proclaim: “Christ is born in Bethlehem”. We hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Have a good week praising God for Jesus.