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Humiliation and Glory

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Storytelling Introduction

In a moment we are going to hear the Christmas story in perhaps a way that you have not heard before. Luke, who authored the Christmas story that we are so familiar with this time of year, also included in this same book an account of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. Debbie and Marijo will be telling both of those stories in a way that enables us to see 2 things: 1) Both the stories of Jesus’ birth and his death ironically mirror one another, as you’ll see. 2) But even more importantly, we will also see that Jesus was born for one ultimate purpose: to die.
Debbie and Marijo

Sermon Introduction

Would it surprise you to know that it took 300 years before the Christian church decided to establish and celebrate a Christmas holiday?
It might surprise you to know that for three centuries there was no Christmas holiday. The church did not set apart a day to celebrate this very important event.
Almost immediately, the early Christians began celebrating the resurrection of Christ. First they made Sunday their day of worship, the day that Christ was resurrected.
Soon after that Easter was established as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Why the delay in making Christmas an official Christian holiday?
If you look at the Scriptures, and you look at the early preaching of the Church, you can easily see that they were far more concerned with Christ’s resurrection than they were Christ’s birth.
In other words, the early church understood that Christ’s resurrection was even more important than Christ’s birth. It’s impossible to understand the Christmas story, if we don’t understand the Easter story.
Almost immediately, the early Christians established Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, but also as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. So the event and the moment of Easter became the singular message of early Christianity. Within a century, the church also
When you know the end of the story, the beginning of the story makes a lot more sense. Try leaving a movie 15 minutes before it’s over. Close the book before reading the climactic chapter. The most brilliant story in the world can be ruined by lack of a useful ending. The story offers no answers, no conclusions.
It’s impossible to understand the Christmas story, if we don’t understand the Easter story. When you know the end of the story, the beginning of the story makes a lot more sense.
This was an important way to tell the Christmas story: The beginning makes more sense when we know the end of the story.
This was an important way to tell the Christmas story: it gives us the proper perspective of Christ’s birth. It reminds us of the hardship, pain, suffering and sorrow that is to come.
For the next several minutes I want us to look at the Christmas story, and I want us to think of it in 2 categories: Humiliation and Glory.
For the next several minutes I want us to look at the Christmas story, the birth of Christ and I want us to think of it in 2 categories: Humiliation and Glory.
Whenever we talk about the humiliation of Christ, we are talking about how the eternal God took upon Himself human limitations.
When we talk of glory in the Bible, we are talking about times when the power and majesty of God are revealed.
In the Christmas story, we see both.
We can see both Humiliation and Glory in the Christmas story, at the same time. And not just in the Christmas story, but as Debbie and Marijo have shown us, throughout Jesus’ life
In the Passion story, we see both.

Humiliation

We see Christ’s humility in that he was disadvantaged.

Luke 2:1 NIV
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
There is a big difference between someone who is born in a wealthy family and someone who is born in country that in the middle of a war. The wealthy have greater access to quality education, less exposure to violent crime. Greater opportunities to a good life.
We see this throughout the Christmas story, and it continues throughout His life.
There is a big difference between someone who is born in a wealthy family and someone who is born in country that in the middle of a war. The wealthy have greater access to quality education, less exposure to violent crime. Greater opportunities to a good life.

We see Christ’s humility in the political climate in which he was born.

Jesus was born to a poor family during a dark time. The Roman Empire had taxed most Jews into poverty. Exceptions to that would have been the wealthy Jews, who received special treatment. But God chose not to send His Son to be born among the powerful, wealthy and privileged. Jesus was born among the oppressed, the poor and the unimportant.
Luke 2:1 NIV
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
Jesus was no rags to riches story. He stayed poor. The same taxes were in force 30 years later. The same miserable poverty existed 30 years later. The same ruthless dictatorship. The same people were in power 30 years later, and they executed him.
At the end of Luke’s story, when Jesus was executed, we see the same evil is still in power.
When Jesus was born, the Roman authorities were absolute. The Jewish leaders were corrupt. The Son of God did not seek power. Even when He was offered power, he rejected it.
We see this at the end of Luke’s story, when Jesus was executed, the same evil is still in power.

We see Christ’s humiliation in his clothing.

We see Christ’s humiliation in his clothing.

Jesus was literally clothed with humility. This is a small detail, stated a matter of factly, but it is important.
Jesus was literally clothed with humility. This is a small detail, stated a matter of factly, but it is important.
she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths…
Some English translations, such as the classic King James the word “swaddling clothes.” When we had our first baby I had to learn how to swaddle. Start with a diamond, fold the top down, wrap the left side, wrap the right side and tuck in the front. Give them warmth and security.
Luke 2:7 NIV
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Nothing special about Jesus’ birth clothes. The Son of God was just wrapped in strips of cloth like your typical peasant baby in the ancient world. Swaddling was used then (and now) because of the helplessness and dependency of infants. God in the flesh was helpless. Vulnerable. Needed to be cared for.
Some English translations word this differently and used the word “swaddling cloths”
tells us that Jesus had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He dressed common. He looked common. He was one of us.
Jesus’ clothing is also significant at the time of his death. Later on in his story, Luke describes the time when his clothing was taken away. We read that
when the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them.

We see Jesus’ humility in His birthplace:

Jesus was born in a stable.

Illustration: Pregnant Mary in pageant. Authentic.
The New Manners and Customs of the Bible 2:7 “Swaddling Clothes”—Manger—Inn

A manger is a feeding trough used for cattle, sheep, donkeys, or horses.

The difficulty of childbearing in a barn, the humility of placing the child in a manger.
…placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available…
Luke 2:7 NIV
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
The New Manners and Customs of the Bible 2:7 “Swaddling Clothes”—Manger—Inn

A manger is a feeding trough used for cattle, sheep, donkeys, or horses.

The King of the Universe had no palace. No middle class single family home. No relatives to stay with for the night.

He lived a nomadic life.
He was born homeless and he spent the last 3 years of his life without a home.
No permanent dwelling place. He was a wandering, homeless person for the rest of his life.

We see Christ’s humility in His lack of power.

Moving over to a different Gospel, let’s consider the story of the Magi. I’m sure there will be those who object to my referencing that story, because we don’t know when the Magi arrived. It could have been a few weeks or even a few years after Jesus was born. But I like having them in my manger scene.
We do know that when they were looking for the new born king, they stopped in the most obvious of places: the king’s palace.
Matthew 2:3 NIV
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
But God in the flesh was rejected and hated by Kings and Emperors.
30 years later, Pilate, the governor of Rome, King Herod, the religious elite and everyone in power saw him as a threat and had him executed.
All of these things demonstrate Christ’s humility: Jesus became poor, Jesus became homeless, Jesus became powerless and vulnerable for our sake. We see this in the Christmas story and the Easter story.
But even though Jesus was born, lived and died in great humiliation, there were moments in his life when His glory shown through. It’s as if His human body was a veil that hid his glory. However, at times it seemed like this veil could not contain the glory.
But alongside Christ’s humiliation, God revealed His glory.
Jesus’ life was marked by humiliation and and suffering. His humanity served as a veil that concealed the splendor of his divine nature. Yet there were moments when His glory shown. It was if the vessel of his human nature was not strong enough to conceal his glory at all times. In the Christmas story, and the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, we see both Christ’s humiliation and his glory.
But even though Jesus
But even though Jesus

Glory

We see Christ’s glory through the messengers who announced Christ’s birth:

Christ’s birth was announced by an angel alongside a heavenly host. Popular Christmas artwork will depict several angels, but the word “host” means army. It’s scary enough to be approached by an angel. It’s horrifying to encounter an entire army of them.
Luke 2:9 NIV
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Angels announced his resurrection
Luke 2:9 NIV
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Christ’s birth was announced by an angel alongside a heavenly host. Popular Christmas artwork will depict several angels, but the word “host” means army. It’s scary enough to be approached by an angel. It’s horrifying to encounter an entire army of them.
Luke 2:7 NIV
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Christ’s birth was announced by an angel alongside a heavenly host. Popular Christmas artwork will depict several angels, but the word “host” means army. It’s scary enough to be approached by an angel. It’s horrifying to encounter an entire army of them.
Luke 2:9 NIV
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Christ’s birth was announced by an angel alongside a heavenly host. Popular Christmas artwork will depict several angels, but the word “host” means army. It’s scary enough to be approached by an angel. It’s horrifying to encounter an entire army of them.
Luke 2:9 NIV
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Inside, Jesus laid in a dirty manger, in great humility, but a few miles away an army of angels are announcing his birth and the glory of God is being displayed.
Angels tend to show up crucial point in human history. They next angelic announcement doesn’t happen until 30 years later. 3 days after Christ’s death, angels informed grieving disciples that He was no longer there: “Why seek the living among the dead?”

We see Christ’s glory through an astronomical phenomenon.

Astrological Phenomenon
What an extraordinary story—. The mysterious Magi - the wise men as they are so often called - likely journeyed over five hundred miles from the east of the Roman Empire all the way to insignificant Palestine to see Jesus, worship Jesus and offer him expensive gifts.
Astrological Phenomenon
We don’t know how large this group of Magi was, but they likely journeyed some five hundred and fifty miles from Babylon to Palestine to see the Messiah and worship Him.
Their guide was a star. I recently read The Great Christ Comet, by Dr. Colin Nicholl. He argues that the star of Bethlehem was a natural phenomenon—what scientists call a “great comet.” Even though Dr. Nicholl says there is a scientific explanation for the star of Bethlehem, he still believes that ii supernaturally ordained by God.
Matthew 2:2 NIV
and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:
Insight the palace the Magi are conversing with a King, a King who would soon seek the life of Jesus. Just outside the palace God’s glory is being revealed. There was a star, that God had preordained to appear, that is leading the Magi to the newborn king.
There was another supernatural phenomenon in Jesus’ life:
Luke 23:
Luke 23:45–46 NIV
for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
This Christmas may we be challenged to imitate Christ’s humility, and may be get a glimpse of His glory.
Luke 23:44–45 NIV
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Luke 23:
This Christmas may we be challenged to imitate Christ’s humility, and may be get a glimpse of His glory.
Luke 2:14 NIV
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 23:44–45 NIV
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Humility and Glory. Both characterized the birth, life and death of Jesus. This Christmas may we be challenged to imitate Christ’s humility, and may be get a glimpse of His glory.

Closing Prayer

Angels also announced Jesus’ resurrection.

Candlelight

Angels announced his resurrection
Luke 2:9 NIV
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Even though Jesus was born in obscurity. Even though he was born in poverty and lived a life of poverty, God’s glory continued to shine on Him and those around him. His disciples were witnesses to His glory. Listen to John’s description of Jesus:
Angels at the tomb announcing his resurrection.

Candlelight

John 1:1–5 NIV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:14 NIV
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus was born into a dark world, and He was a light in that darkness. He loved the unloved. He embraced the rejects. He forgave the shamed.
It’s not hard to find the darkness in our world: We don’t have to look far to find hatred and violence. We don’t have to look far to find pain and grief. We have opportunities to spread the light of Christ everywhere.
We use light and fire as a reminder that God is here with us. Lighted candles remind us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.
We light one another’s candles to remind us of the words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus told his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
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