Thursday, December 25, 2008

good news of great joy

the portion of scripture that i feel like God has impressed upon my heart for this christmas season isn't found in any of the gospels, as you might suppose.
instead it is found in philippians:

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." -philippians 2:5-11

as i've read the bible for myself, listened to sermons and even just had conversations with other people, i've had a firmer grasp on the concept of the sacrifice jesus made by coming to earth.

not only did he give up his divinity, but he willingly took on shame and gave up his right to reputation and power. he chose to be born to a woman who was unmarried. a scandal tainted his birth. mark 6:3 has jesus being referred to by his mother's name, showing that even as a grown man, jesus still had the stigma of being an illegitimate child. when jesus talks to the jews in john 8, one of their defenses is that no matter what else they may be, at least they aren't illegitimate kids. the culture jesus was a part of placed a huge emphasis on honor and shame.

i heard in a sermon this month that it has been thought that bethlehem may have been too small for an inn. in a town where joseph would have had family, and in a culture renowned for its hospitality, there was "no room for them in the inn." this speaks volumes about the shame surrounding the birth of our lord.

jesus made it clear in his time on earth the gospel is for all people.
"i bring you good news of great joy for ALL THE PEOPLE" declared the angel to the shepherds.
by including women in his genealogy (and not just any women-adulterers, prostitutes and gentiles), along with willingly accepting the shame that came with his birth, jesus demonstrated that he truly is "emmanuel-God with us." jesus can actually say, "me too." he truly is a God who understands and draws near. and not just to the privileged or the wealthy or those of good repute. he draws near to all people.

christmas is good news for EVERYONE!!

merry christmas.