Humiliation at Christmas

They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him. Mark 14:64-65

As we enter Advent, I’ve been thinking of the cross more than the manger. It is the cross that saves us, not the manger. The cross is the demonstration of God’s radical love towards us. The cross is our  example of the radical love we are to show others. The cross reminds us of the seriousness of sin, and Christ’s victory over it. Not the manger.

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The Flight into Egypt, Edwin Longsden Long

But the manger is important: While the cross shows us Christ’s humiliating death, the manger shows us His humiliating beginnings. It was a prelude to the kind of life that Jesus was to live.

Philippians 2:7-8 tells us that Jesus laid aside His divine majesty, took on the limitations of being human, and experienced the difficulties, sufferings and sorrows that all people do.

We see this in the Christmas story:

He likely endured the suspicion of being an illegitimate child. This seems to be implied in John 8:41, and 2nd century critics of Christianity made this accusation. Plus, Mary and Joseph’s friends and relatives understood simple biology and could do simple math.

He was born among commoners in anonymity in a place of little importance:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,  though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…” (Micah 5:2).

He was born into poverty. Mary and Joseph were too poor to offer a lamb as a temple sacrifice, so they offered two pigeons instead (Luke 2:22–24; Leviticus 12:7-8).

His family soon fled Bethlehem to live as refugees in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). His grew up in an area with such poverty and bad reputation that his disciple Nathaniel once said, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)

His material status didn’t change during  his 3 years of ministry. Jesus commented on his economic status when he said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

Jesus preached from borrowed boats, multiplied borrowed food, rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed colt, and was buried in a borrowed tomb.

Jesus left his throne to live in humiliation and poverty with us, to give us His life and his friendship. This very thing is stated in 2 Corinthians 8:9:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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3 Responses to Humiliation at Christmas

  1. Pingback: Humiliation at Christmas - HUNTINGTOWN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

  2. Richard Barney says:

    Great read Pastor Corey…he became poor so we could be rich!

  3. Sharon W says:

    Miraculous life-miraculous Savior! From birth to death a love lesson for us all!

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