Merry Christmas

By Austin Suter

The older I get, the more I like Christmas. This is the time of year when I turn on Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God and am regularly moved to tears at the thought of God becoming man for us. When we celebrate the Incarnation, we celebrate the coming of our Savior. There has been none like Jesus before or since—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Scripture holds Jesus out to us as our Savior, and also our example. He represents the highest hopes for humanity’s goodness. While making Jesus a mere moral example is an insult to his divinity and work as Savior, removing or de-emphasizing his moral example ignores his life of perfect righteousness in his active obedience. Scripture often holds Christ up to us and tells us to be like him. In that spirit, here are three lessons from the Incarnation for our time:

1) Be Humble

Humility may be the most striking aspect of the incarnate Christ’s character. The One through whom all things were made was born into a working-class family in occupied Israel (John 1:3). He had no beauty or majesty that we should look at him (Isaiah 53:2). He had no place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). He commanded legions of angels yet held them back for the sake of his mission (Matthew 26:53).

This humility seems to be what Paul had in mind as he instructs Christians to have Christ as their example (Philippians 2). We are to consider others more important than ourselves (verse 3). The logic goes that if our Savior was willing to undergo the humiliation of servanthood and death for us, our gratitude to him should compel a similar spirit toward others. 

Disharmony is the air we breathe. The world delights in disunity—dividing into camps from which to shout at the opposition. Diversity in our churches and communities provides plenty of opportunity for disharmony and discontentment. But when Christians are faithful to model the humility of our Savior, we stand out from the crooked and depraved world around us (verse 15).

2) Be Hopeful

Reflecting on the Incarnation, St. Athanasius wrote in the fourth century: "the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning." The pace of redemption may discourage us. There is trouble all around. Jesus told us that we will have trouble in this life, but what was his next sentence? "Take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). 

We may be tempted toward discouragement at the state of the world around us. But our Lord is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). How sure is that redemption? It is backed by the same power that spoke the world into being. As those who have received the Spirit as a deposit of our inheritance before we take full possession of it, we have a duty to our Lord to be hopeful that he will fulfill every promise (Ephesians 1:13-14).

3) Be Prayerful 

There has never been a more powerful human than Jesus. He spoke storms into stillness (Matthew 8:27), disease into health (Mark 5:34), and death into life (John 11:43). One might expect such a man to swagger in his own strength. But not Jesus. He regularly retreated for private prayer and communion with the Father (Luke 6:12).

If Jesus needed prayer, we need it more. When confronted with ongoing injustice, racial tragedies, contentious court cases, or divisions in our families and churches, we must take these burdens to the Father. As the hymn says, "Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

There are an infinite number of ways we should aspire to be like Jesus. These are a few ways in which the perfect man stands in such contrast to our broken world. As we march toward Zion, let us look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Our Savior has much to teach us.


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This article is a version of a devotional originally posted by Austin Suter is staff member of CLS, as well as United? We Pray.