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THE CHRISTMAS SCRAMBLE & THE GIFT INDESCRIBABLE

for a copy of the newspaper one year in the future. He reasoned that, if he could see which stocks increased in value over the coming year, he could make a killing. He would be financially set for life. After he looked over the financial section, he accidentally dropped a portion of the newspaper. Upon picking it up, he saw his picture. Much to his dismay, he saw that the picture accompanied his obituary, which indicated that he died the previous day of a heart attack. All of a sudden, the stock market killing that he planned was very trivial. That little story is modern day equivalent of a parable that Jesus once told: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? And he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul will be required of you: then whose will those things be, which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21) How much of Christmas or life as a whole for that matter involves a scramble to get treasures like the FUZZBO2000 and yet totally ignores God and His Indescribable Gift. What indescribable gift? The Apostle Paul wrote: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty you might become rich. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 8:9, 9:15) Jesus is Gods indescribable gift. Christmas is not about our exchanging FUZZBO2000s with one another, but rather it is about God sending

The picture above is reminiscent of real life happenings on Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving when thousands stand outside department stores in the bitter cold at 5:00 am in the morning or earlier to get the things that someone on their Christmas list must have. There are Little Billies all across the US who face permanent emotional scarring if they do not get a FUZZBO2000. Of course, it will be broken on December 26 or thrown in the bottom of a toy chest before the New Year, but it must be purchased at the Black Friday price at any cost (i.e., no matter how many little old ladies must be trampled). Once Little Billy gets the FUZZBO2000 he will be happy, that is, until the FUZZBO2001 comes out. Christmas is a good time to evaluate our pursuits are they meaningful or are they trivial. As a starting point, consider the story of the stockbroker who came across a lamp with a genie in it. Unlike the standard genie, this one only granted the person rubbing the lamp only one wish instead of the customary three. The stockbroker carefully deliberated as to how to spend his one wish. Finally, he asked the genie

His Son as a man so that He could die for the sins of mankind. Jesus said in the gospel of John: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) This is not just a verse that you see on a banner near the goal posts of a football game. It is the real Christmas story. I enjoy kids TV Christmas specials. However, even those that make allusions to Jesus (e.g., Linus quoting the gospel of Luke to Charlie Brown), miss the mark about the true message. Why? Simply put, without the cross, the manger has no meaning. Jesus was born so that He could die. HE WAS RICH A great commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:9 is Philippians 2:6-8 where we read of voluntary humiliation of Jesus. Paul begins by describing His exalted position (being in the form of God [vs. 6a]). In eternity past, He came forth from the bosom of the Father, as the Word of God (John 1:1, 18). Paul writes of Jesus that: He is the image of invisible God, the firstborn of 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 fullness should dwell. (Colossians 1:15-18) With the exception of God, the Father, no one holds a higher position than the Son of God, Jesus. He has the preeminence.

HE BECAME POOR He was indeed rich; the entire universe belonged to Him. However, He was willing to become poor. The Apostle provides a sevenstep humiliation: 1. The first step is found in these words from Philippians 2, (He) did not consider it robbery to be equal with God (vs. 6b). Weymouth translates this as: He did not reckon His equality with God a treasure to be tightly grasped. Most monarchs do whatever is possible to retain their power and position, including murdering wives and children that they feel threatened by. However, in order to reconcile a sinful world to the Father, Jesus did not cling to His rights and privileges. The rest of His actions in His amazing descent begin with this heart attitude. 2. Paul describes the second step as: made Himself of no reputation (vs. 7a). Weymouth translates this as He stripped Himself of His glory. He, who is described as the brightness of Gods glory (Hebrews 1:3), was prophesied by Isaiah as one who had no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him (53:2). For 33 years He hid the glory He shared with the Father from before the creation of the universe (John 17:5). 3. The third step involved Jesus taking the form of a bondservant (vs. 7b). The word translated bondservant refers to one who totally surrenders his will to another. Jesus said to His disciples: The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28) The Son of Man (Daniel 7:13) was Jesus favorite title for Himself. He came to do the will of the Father, which required serving sinful men by dying in their place. In lowliness of mind, He esteemed others and their needs as more important than His own. Politicians are supposed to be public servants; however, so much of what they do is based on selfish

ambition. The One Who existed in the form of God took the form of a bondservant. This is not simply the prince trading places with the pauper, but the king trading place with the paupers slave. 4. The fourth downward step involved coming in the likeness of men (vs. 7b). Angels are referred to as servants; however, they are not subject to the limitations of humans. Jesus was in every way human He became hungry and thirsty and tired. He felt pain and loneliness. Imagine the creator of the universe becoming a helpless baby, totally dependent on human parents to meet His needs. He was even tempted to sin; however, unlike every human before Him, He did not sin one time in thought, word, or deed. Paul writes: For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. (Romans 8:3) The Apostle is noting that no one was ever saved by trying to keep the law (embodied in the Ten Commandments). The law was not given to make man right with God, but to show man that he was sinful and in need of a Savior. God sent His Son, who kept the law perfectly, and then punished Him for the sins of the world. Jesus had to take upon the likeness of sinful flesh, so that He could die for sinful man. 5. As a fifth step, Paul indicates that Jesus was found in the appearance as a man (vs. 8a). The apostle is indicating that Jesus humiliation was so thorough, that He appeared to men as simply a man. If He had been a king, they may have had some clue that He was the Son of God. But, Jesus was born to poor parents (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12). For the first thirty years of His life on earth, He lived in an obscure village that was looked down upon (John 1:46 can anything good come out of Nazareth?). Because of the virgin birth and Mary being with child at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, many believed Him to be

illegitimate (John 8:41, 48). He didnt own anything but the clothes on His back (Matthew 8:20). 6. Sixthly, He further humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death (vs. 8b). As we have hinted at previously, salvation does not come by Jesus birth. Most of us have a price that we consider too high to pay. Not many are willing to obey God if it cost them their lives. I myself withhold talking about my love for Jesus and telling others about His love for them for fear of making them uncomfortable and having them ridicule me. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and the soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). Jesus never sinned and therefore He never had to die. However, He was willing to preach the truth tirelessly no matter how much it caused the religious leaders of His day to hate Him. Even though they despised Him, He loved them so much that He warned them that they were about to perish (i.e., its not love to allow a blind person to walk out into traffic and be run over by a car). As a result, they wanted to kill Him. 7. Last, He subjected Himself to the worse type of death, the death of the cross (vs. 8c). Jesus didnt die by lethal injection, hidden away in some room in a prison. He was put to death by the most humiliating and excruciating death devised by sinful men the cross. To grasp the enormity of Jesus death, imagine the innocent king of the world being put to death as a criminal in an electric chair. However, instead of supplying the voltage required to kill Him in several seconds, the electrocution was drawn out so that it took hours. Before being strapped in the chair, He was stripped naked and whipped to within an inch of His life. As the hours passed, hundreds passed by spitting on Him, making fun of Him, and cursing Him. However, no matter how severe the physical pain associated with the cross, it was not the worst faced by Jesus. While it was the religious leaders who pushed for His death and the Romans who carried it out, the prophet Isaiah says that it was Yahweh, His Father, who bruised Him and put Him to grief (53:10)

and placed on Him the sin of us all (53:6). Jesus cried out from the cross, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:45). By taking our sin, Jesus was separated from His Father so that we do not need to be. THAT YOU MIGHT BECOME RICH We were poor we did not have the righteousness necessary to be right with God. Isaiah accurately described our condition as: But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have consumed us because of our iniquities (64:6, 7) Our situation was hopeless. Even the good things we did were filthy rags in Yahwehs sight. Not one of us had the strength to reach to God. But thankfully the story does not end there. Paul writes: When we were still without strength, in due time the Messiah died for the ungodly. God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, the Messiah died for us. (Romans 5:6, 8) For He (Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Because Jesus relinquished His rights and privileges as God, stripped Himself of His glory, surrendered Himself totally to the will of His Father and the needs of His people, took upon Himself the weakness of human flesh, appeared as a mere man, was obedient regardless of cost, even to the point of the cross death, He was able to take our sin and offer us His righteousness in return. Someone has developed the following acrostic to help us understand the word grace:

G Gods R Riches A At C Christs E Expense That summarizes 2 Corinthians 8:9. Because Jesus paid the price, we can know all the riches of Gods forgiveness and love. OUR RESPONSE As with all gifts, there are two responses: you can accept the gift or you can reject it (either by not opening it or returning it). Following his description of the seven-step humiliation of Jesus, Paul gives the response of Yahweh: Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name. (Philippians 2:9) Having humbled Himself as low as a man could go, Yahweh has highly exalted His Son: Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the sham, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) Paul also gives us the proper response of the recipients of the Indescribable Gift: 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 the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11) The proper response is to surrender control of your life (bow the knee) to the One Who died in your place and to confess Him as your Sovereign. We started this study by examining our pursuits. The Westminster Confession of Faith begins by stating that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. The

primary way that you can bring glory to Yahweh is to bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord. The Psalmist states this truth as follows: Now therefore, be wise, O kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest Yahweh be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:10-12) Dont follow trivial pursuits. Dont trust in your own goodness to make you right with God. This Christmas put your trust in the One Who became flesh, died for your sins, rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of Yahweh. As Linus said to his best friend, thats what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Merry Christmas In Jesus Love, Donald