He Made Himself Nothing

   The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham …  Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah … Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus Who is called Christ.                   Matthew 1:1,16
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli*,…  the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God                Luke 3:23,38

These days there is a lot of popular interest in tracing one’s ancestry, in fact, there are TV shows like “Finding Your Roots” and “Who Do You Think You Are” to discover who one is attached to, going back into history.  Ancestry lists have often been important in the past because they establish significant connections of identity and history. Therefore, through Matthew and Luke, we learn that Jesus, humanly speaking, is a true son of God’s People, going back to David, to Abraham, and then even to Adam.

But there is another point to these genealogies: Jesus switches everything – not only does He belong to this lineage, these people belong to Jesus and their histories belong to Him:

From this point the significance of the Person of Jesus is not just in having a human nature, but now in being connected to MANKIND.  The genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are not merely the ANCESTRY, but also the HISTORY of Jesus.  … Jesus is the murderer, the poet, the traitor, the hero of faith.  It is not Adam, but Jesus; not Abraham, but Jesus; not David, but Jesus; not King Jehoram [Joram] who “died to no one’s regret” [II Chronicles 21:19-20], but Jesus; not King Ahaz, who “became even more faithless to Jehovah” [II Chronicles 28:22], but Jesus; not Judas Iscariot, but Jesus.  This all now becomes JESUS’ history.**

It is here where the genealogies cease to be merely Biblical trivia.  Suddenly we are being pulled into the account.  It doesn’t matter who we think we are – whether we are good religious people, like the self-satisfied who could trot out a list of their “godly” activities, as in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector [Luke 18:10-14]; or whether we can only stand afar off alongside the tax collector who would “not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” – we all are included.

Now comes Jesus as the Sinbearer, Who is not afraid to walk where the brothels and the bars are, Who does not gasp in horror at the embezzler and the cheat, who does not abhor the low income shepherds, nor reject the rich and self-confident.  He does not recoil from the open sores of the leper, nor from the luxury of the greedy.  He does not shy away from the bewildered and the struggling, nor does He stand helpless before the despairing and lonely.

Instead He goes about taking upon Himself the different burdens which each has, taking upon Himself the emptiness which covers the earth, the evil which seeps throughout our hearts, the misery and ache of life alien to the presence and the help of God.  This would be His work especially during His ministry, but actually it was going on throughout His life as He lived through all the stages of human growth and maturing.  He is digging His fingers deep into the swamp of guilt, shame, hatred, dissatisfaction, selfishness, and insensitivity in the humanity which surrounds Him, piling burden after burden upon Himself as He takes His each step to the cross with its devastation under the judgment of God.

This is what St Paul understood when he wrote to the Philippians [2:3-8 ESV]:

   Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. … Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Our human nature rebels when it hears the admonition to humble ourselves before the Lord.  We are deathly afraid to make ourselves vulnerable, to discover just how much we do not have the control which we desperately cling to: the control of our lives, our futures, our selves.  We stagger at the idea where we must admit dependence on something – Someone – beyond our manipulation.  We know that we are failing, and yet how can we trust our lives and everything we are to an Entity Who is just too distant from who we are?

This is what Christmas is all about!  God has never commanded us to do anything He Himself has not done.  If He wants us to love, it is only because He Himself has completely loved.  If He looks for us to humble ourselves, it is only because He plunged into humility to an immeasurable depth.  He “emptied” Himself – “made Himself nothing” – He put aside everything which is His nature – and took on an existence in a container of humanity into which it is impossible for Him to fit, and yet He did it – He not only became a man, He even became a baby.

Think of that: the almighty God had to have His diapers changed.  The almighty God had become so vulnerable that if Mary did not nurse Him, He would die.  If Joseph did not take Him out of danger, Herod would have killed Him.  There is something in us which revolts against the idea that God the Son would have become so utterly defenseless before everything; so utterly dependant upon the very people who needed Him to save them.  Truly when God talks about humility, He really understands the cost and the jeopardy of such a thing.

But what we also know is that Jesus was not only humbled before humanity, His humility was also before God the Father.  Just as He trusted Mary and Joseph, it was even more so that He trusted His heavenly Father.  Throughout His life, throughout His time of collecting the misery, guilt and burden of humanity, He was able to operate in confidence, not in haughty self-pride, but within the will of His Father Whom He knew had extraordinary love and overwhelming goodness.  Even as Jesus faced the distress and affliction of human rejection, despite  the agony and desolation of the cross, despite the encroaching apparent victory of death, the hill Golgotha would still ring out with His “Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit.”

Just be prepared for the challenges that comes your way and you can over come it. prescription viagra continue reading now now This really becomes important when selecting a particular online supplier as not all of them offer quality medication for the treatment of sexual dysfunction. http://www.opacc.cv/documentos/bo_12-04-2013_21Pag15.pdf purchase generic levitra The soft tablets are also available in many fruity flavors such as strawberry, orange, banana, vanilla, & pineapple. Alcohol and drugs can spoil all your desires for sex. Jesus understands humility.  As we come before the manger, we are now called upon to humble ourselves before this God.  Are we willing to join Him as we also make ourselves vulnerable?  Are we willing to turn over to Him our guilt, our shame, our weaknesses, our assumptions of control?  Are we willing to make ourselves “nothing” – to truly empty ourselves as well, empty of the selfishness and the sin which has such attraction for us?  Are we willing to discover the reliability of that humility before God the Father which we see in the manger and then in the life of our Lord, in which He became actual and forever a part of our world and part of our lives, and then the Savior of these very things?

This Baby, Whom we celebrate on this very important day of His humility, does not demand but rather invites us to join Him in His humility.  Imagine:  Him Whose human body could not contain God the Son, and yet did; Him Who was willing to put aside everything – His Glory, His status, His almighty power, His eternal control over all things – simply in order to join us in our human lives and then to save us, He again repeats His humility by being found in mere bread and wine, being found at this table, being found in this congregation.

And now He calls us to come and join Him, to share in His humility, to empty ourselves for Him just as He has done for us, so that He can enter us and fill us with a life which comes only because He is a God Who did not shrink from giving to us the abundant life He promised which comes as he shares the product of His humility with us, namely:  His goodness, His Covenant relationship, His mercy, His grace, His faithfulness, His steadfast love, His forgiveness, and His justice.

He bids us to follow Him by emptying our selves, repenting of our corrupted natures, confessing our failure and sin, turning away from the self-defeating struggle to control our lives and our worlds.  Allow Him to dig His fingers deep into the swamp of our guilt, shame, hatreds, dissatisfactions, selfishnesses, and insensitivities, as He piles our burdens upon Himself, freeing us from the chains of our past, the frustrations of our disgraces.

And then allow Him to be born in us, in the now humble, rough and empty mangers of our lives, ready to experience the impossible fitting of all that God the Son is into our lives – impossible yet He does it anyway, as we receive His Body and Blood into our worlds, and discover how we are filled to overflowing with a presence of goodness, mercy, grace,  forgiveness in an extraordinary relationship of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love to us.  Come every week, to discover again and again that, amazingly, no longer is there the emptiness which we tend to suspect would be the result our humility, but rather we become filled by a deep, powerful, and eternal fellowship with a God Who has considered us as more important than His own life.

This is what we discover as we come to the manger at this Christmas time!


*Why is Joseph given two different fathers between Matthew’s account and Luke’s account? There is a critical difference in the way that the genealogies are handled:  Matthew records actual sonship, “begot,” while Luke comes from the opposite direction, “son of’.”   Since the Jews never allowed a woman to be named in a genealogy,  when a family ended with a daughter, the custom was to use the name of the son-in-law, so also Luke uses that convention.  Mary was the actual descendant of Heli, but Joseph was a “son of Heli” through his marriage to Mary.

**from my book, Covenant: The Blood is the Life



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