Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13
And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. James 2:23
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, famous evangelist, said that the New Testament records tell of forty people, each suffering from the same disease, who were healed by Jesus. Of this number, thirty-four were either brought to Jesus by friends, or He was taken to them. In only six cases out of forty did the sufferers find the way to Jesus without assistance. Of the vast number of people who find their way to Jesus today, most of them reach Him because the friends of Jesus are concerned about the welfare of their souls.
But before there could be friends concerned about the spiritual welfare of others, God had to pave a way making it possible for born-again believers to be called friends of God, and that was through the Incarnation! The Incarnation was the day that God showed Himself our Friend!
Charles Wesley was one of the greatest hymn writers of all time. Born in 1708 the eighteenth child and youngest son in a family of nineteen in the home of Samuel and Susannah Wesley, he went on to write more than 6,000 hymns. What his older brother, John Wesley, preached, he sang! There was not only a song in his heart, but also a passion for God’s people and he pastored the last 32 years of his life in Bristol and London, England. God took him “home” at eighty years of age.
One of his poems which became a Christmas carol, still found in some hymnals, is entitled, “Glory Be to God on High.” It speaks of the Son of God’s Incarnation in which God shows Himself our Friend:
Glory be to God on high, and Peace on earth descend:
God comes down, He bows the sky,
He shows Himself our Friend!
God, the Invisible appears, God the Blest,
The Great I AM sojourns in this Vale of Tears,
And Jesus is His Name.
Because this hymn exalts the glory of the Incarnation and the day that God showed Himself our Friend, I must share the remaining stanzas for our reflection during this Christmas season:
Him the angels all adored, their Maker and their King;
Tidings of their humbled Lord they now to mortals bring;
Emptied of His majesty, of His dazzling glories shorn,
Being’s Source begins to be, and God Himself is born!
See th’eternal Son of God a mortal Son of Man,
Dwelling in an earthly clod whom Heaven cannot contain!
Stand amazed, ye heav’ns, at this! See the Lord of earth and skies
Humbled to the dust He is, and in a manger lies!
We, the sons of men, rejoice, the Prince of Peace proclaim,
With the angels lift up our voice, and shout Immanuel’s Name;
Knees and hearts to Him we bow; of our flesh, and of our bone,
Jesus is our Brother now, and God is all our own!
One unknown writer expresses the mystery of the Incarnation and paradoxes found in these beautiful lyrics: God comes down from on high to show Himself our Friend; God the Invisible appears…and Jesus is His Name; emptied of His majesty, GOD Himself is born; see the eternal Son of God dwelling in an earthly clod; see the LORD of earth and skies humbled to the dust He is, and in a manger lies; of our flesh and of our bone, God is all our own!
David had hoped to build a temple for God. David’s will was not within God’s will. David’s son, Solomon, was to be the chosen one for this divine task. Upon the completion of the building of the temple, a place where God might dwell among His people, Solomon in true humility prayed, “But will God indeed dwell on earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built” (I Kings 8:27). Solomon is saying, could the God of heaven really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain Him, how much less this temple I have built!
As we enter another Advent season, we should give thanks, adoration and praise for that day of all days, the Incarnation, when God showed Himself our Friend. James 2:23 reminds us that Abraham was called the friend of God. But not until he believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Isaiah 61:10a states,“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with robe of righteousness.” This speaks of the greatest swap ever, His righteousness for my sins, my robe of unrighteousness for His robe of righteousness! If it were not for our sin there would have been no need of the Incarnation!
So we must ask, “Am I a friend of God? Can God call me His friend?” The Incarnation allowed the Son of God to become the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). In the Incarnation God opened the door to reconciliation, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself….” (2 Corinthians 5:19). “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).
Glory be to God on high, and Peace on earth descend:
God comes down, He bows the sky, He shows Himself our Friend!