Through the years I have enjoyed preaching about the Christ of Christmas from various Bible texts. Some would never consider Philippians 2:5-11, well known as the kenosis passage, as such a text but it really is. In these verses we have not only the Christmas story but so much more. Here we see the fullness of Christ’s life, from eternity past to eternity future. Here is recorded Christ’s round-trip from heaven. He came from the bosom of the Father to the womb of the virgin; from heaven’s palace to a sinful world; to the arms of the cross to the bowels of the earth, and finally, back again to the right hand of the Father in heaven!
His Deity – “Being in the form of God”
Philippians 2:6 takes us into eternity past and tells us that before Jesus was born He was with God. This cannot be said of anyone else! Jesus is God! And He did not think it robbery to be so. He was not unlawfully seizing something that was not His. This passage verifies His preexistence (John 1: 1-3; 6:38; 8:58; 17:5;24).
His Destitution – “Made Himself of no reputation”
Literally He emptied Himself. He laid aside all of His heavenly privileges. Most people today literally kill themselves to build a reputation. But Jesus waived His, and this He did willingly. He was born in a stable, reared in a poor carpenter’s home, owned no property, wrote no books, founded no famous schools. He simply stripped Himself of the insignia of glory and laid aside His garments of majesty, but in doing so, never for a moment ceased to be God!
His Desire – “Took upon Him the form of a servant”
The entire life of Christ was one of humility, beginning with the cradle and ending with the Cross! Time and again we see Him as the Servant. Probably one of the most graphic examples would be the picture we have of the Master in the Upper Room washing the feet of His disciples (John 13). Oh, how we need today to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn how to be a servant – at home, at work and at church.
His Disclosure – “Likeness of men and fashioned as a man”
Though Christ was made in the likeness of men, He was still sinless! Not only did He not sin, but He could not sin! He was made in our likeness so that He might understand our weaknesses (Hebrews 4: 15). Being fashioned, or found in appearance, as a man simply means that He was flesh and blood just like you and me. He was born in pain, had brothers and sisters, learned a trade, shed tears and experienced thirst, hunger and weariness. And in the end, He also died! Jesus was a man!
His Degradation – “He humbled Himself’
It seems as we study Scripture the more that Jesus was despised, the more He humbled Himself. Ultimately His humility let Him to the Cross and death. But His humility always had a purpose, and that was obedience. Humility is always born out of the desire to be obedient. It is always pride that keeps us from obedience.
His Destination – “The death of the Cross”
Jesus was born to die! It was a painful death. It has been said that the person who was crucified died a thousand deaths. It was the most severe suffering known in that day. The victim died from exposure and from a slow suffocation caused by muscular fatigue of the diaphragm. It was a shameful death for the victim had to carry his own cross outside the city to a place called Golgotha, the place of a skull, where they buried criminals. It was a lonely death. From around, His friends forsook Him. From above, God dropped upon Him a veil of darkness. From within, there arose the bitter cry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” As the songwriter has well said, “Alone, alone, He bore it all alone. He gave Himself to save His own, He suffered, bled, and died alone, alone. “
His Dignity – “God highly exalted Him”
He was exalted in position (2:9a); exalted in name (2:9b); and exalted in authority (2:10-11). You must underscore the word “every” in verses 9-11, for it means exactly what it says! His Name is above every name. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Better now that later for then it will be too late!
Yes, this text does bear the Christmas story for in a nutshell we have the entire ministry of Christ the Lord paraded before us. His preexistence in heaven; His journey into the world of His own creation; His death upon Calvary bearing our sins; and His return to glory to be highly exalted by the Father! Here we have the Great Exchange – our sins for His righteousness; access to His home instead of the devil’ s final destination; His eternal presence in place of eternal separation. My, what a story! May it reach and change the hearts of many – this season may heaven again hear the angels rejoice!
–Maynard H. Belt