[Jesus] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Not long ago, I was watching a cable news program, and the host was interviewing somebody about the story of Christmas and the life of Jesus Christ. The guest claimed that the accounts of Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John could not be trusted because they were filled with historical inaccuracies. Then the host made this reply: “Well, let’s quit getting hung up on the facts of Christmas. After all, it is really the message of Christmas that is important.” As I listened to that, I thought about this idea that it is not the facts of the Christmas story that are important; it is the message. Is that true?
This talk show host was undergoing, at that time, some contract negotiations with the network. I wonder if that host would go to his employer and say, “Well, I really don’t care about the facts of my contract. You can pay me whatever you want to pay me. I am not getting hung up on the facts; it is just the message that you care about me that is important.” I doubt he would have said that. Or think about a student in history class who fails an exam on the Civil War. Can you imagine the student going to his teacher and saying, “Well, you should not have failed me, because the facts are not really important. It does not matter that I don’t know the date of the Civil War, the participants in the war, or the reasons for the war. I understand the message of the war, and that is all that should count”? I doubt that would get very far with the teacher. The truth is, facts are important, because a message is composed of facts.
Make no mistake about it: the story of Christmas has an important message. The message of Christ’s coming to earth as a baby is that God loves you with an indescribable love. He loves you so much that He was willing to take on human form and eventually suffer death on a cross to offer you eternal life.
In perhaps the greatest Christmas passage of all time, the Apostle Paul explained it this way: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). The message of Christmas is that Jesus willingly gave up His rights as God, took on human form, lived a life of humiliation and rejection, and suffered the punishment for His creatures’ sins so that we could live forever in Heaven with God.
The message of Christmas is grounded in three foundational historical facts. These facts are as important as the message of Christmas. We are going to look those facts briefly this week.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God In A Stable: Fact Or Fable?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.