JESUS: THE REFUGEE AT CHRISTMAS
- Some people do not receive any peace at Christmas. They sacrifice their own peace so others may have peace.
- SCE&G workers
- CSX workers
- Gas station attendants
- EMS workers
- Mothers cooking in the kitchen at home
- Wal-mart—24/7 workers
READ PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11—-In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
HOW FAR DID JESUS HAVE TO “EMPTY HIMSELF” THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS?
EXPLAIN PHIL 2
- “WHO BEING IN THE VERY FORM OF GOD”—THIS LANGUAGE EXPRESSES AS PRESUPPOSITION THAT JESUS IS THE PRE-EXISTENT ONE WHO EMPTIED HIMSELF AT ONEPOINTIN OUR HUMAN HISTORY.
- WHAT IT MEANS FOR CHRIST TO BE IN THE FORM OF GOD—IT MEANS TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD.
- EQUALITY WITH GOD IS NOT THAT WHICH HE DESIRED WHICH WAS NOT HIS—BUT PRECISELY THAT WHICH WAS ALWAYS HIS.
- EQUALITY WITH GOD WAS NOT GRASPING OR BEING SELFISH—BUT GIVING AWAY.
- GOD-LIKENESS DID NOT MEAN FOR CHRIS TTO BE A GRASPING, SEIZING BEING—IT WAS NOT SOMETHING TO BE SEIZED UPON TO HIS OWN ADVANTAGE.
- RATHER, JESUS EQUALITY WITH GOD FOUND ITS TRUEST EXPRESSION WHERE HE EMPTIED HIMSELF.
- JESUS’ PASSION, HIS ASPIRATION WAS FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW HIMSELF.
- WHAT DOES JESUS EMPTY HIMSELF? MANY SAY CHRIST MUST HAVE EMPTIED HIMSELF OF SOMETHING—
- JUST AS “TO GRASP” REQUIRES NO OBJECT FOR HIM TO “SEIZE,” BUT RATHER POINTS TO WHAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF GOD’S CHARACTER, SO CHRIST DID NOT EMPTY HIMSELF OF ANYTHING—HE SIMPLY POURED HIMSELF OUT—THIS METAPHOR DEMANDS HIS PRE-EXISTENCE.
- HE POURED HIMSELF OUT BY HAVING TAKEN ON THE “FORM” OF A SLAVE—2 COR. 8:9
- HIS BEING IN THE FORM OF GOD WHICH MEANS HE WAS EQUAL WITH GOD.
- HERE IS WHERE THE ONE WHO AS EQUAL WITH GOD HAS MOST FULLY REVEALED THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD; THAT GOD IS LOVE AND THAT HIS LOVE EXPRESSES ITSELF IN SELF SACRIFICE—CRUEL HUMILIATING DEATH ON A CROSS FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE HE LOVES.
- HE BECAME A HUMILIATED & SUFFERING HUMAN—
- Jesus did not just empty Himself by simply being human, but He emptied Himself to the point of having constant humiliation and suffering.
- Isaiah 53:3—He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
- He and His family were familiar with suffering even before the time of His birth.
- Jesus parents were not married when He was conceived—later called, “son of Mary”
- His mother Mary, sent away to Elizabeth during the pregnancy—Luke 1:39 (“she went at once”).
- Since Mary was related to Elizabeth, was Mary too part of the priestly family? Imagine how they must have felt.
- On that first Christmas morning, the world must have seemed a hard place to Mary.
- At the end of a weary journey there was “no room at the inn.” The only shelter offered to her was the “lowly cattle shed.” Did they know the family? Was there family with them in Bethlehem? Was she all alone except for Joseph?
- Imagine how Mary’s mother must have felt? Was Mary really telling the truth about the virgin birth and the angel? Was her son really the Messiah?
- Jesus was born in a barn, while traveling.
- Laid in the feeding trough.
- Jesus had to flee with His family to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill Him.
- No peace for Jesus or His family at Christmas. They had work to do.
- Rev. 12—Spiritual battle to kill the savior.
- Jesus and His family suffered freely for us.
Tom Allen, a pastor and former Army Ranger, tells this story:
I finally saw Saving Private Ryan about two weeks ago. I was extremely proud until the last minute of the movie.
As the movie began, I was proud watching the Rangers take OmahaBeach. Then the story begins when they receive a mission to go deep into enemy territory to save Private Ryan. They hit skirmish after skirmish, and some of them are killed along the way. They finally get to where Private Ryan is holed up, and they say, “Come with us. We’ve come to save you.”
He says, “I’m not going. I have to stay here because there’s a big battle coming up, and if I leave my men they’re all going to die.”
What do the Rangers say? “We’ll stay here and fight with you.” They all stay and fight, and it’s gory and hard, and almost everyone dies except Private Ryan. At the end, one of the main characters—Tom Hanks—is sitting on the ground. He’s been shot and he’s dying. The battle has been won.
Private Ryan leans over to him, and Tom Hanks whispers something to him. Everyone in the theater is crying because Tom Hanks was shot; I was crying because of what he said—it was so terrible. Private Ryan bent down and Tom Hanks said, “Earn this.” The reason that made me angry is no Ranger would ever say, “Earn this.” Why? Because the Ranger motto for the past 200 years has not been “Earn this.” The Ranger motto for the past 200 years has been Sua sponte, “I chose this.” I volunteered for this.
So, when Private Ryan bent down, if Tom Hanks was really a Ranger he would have said, “Sua sponte, I chose this. This is free. You don’t pay anything for this. I give up my life for you. That’s my job.”
And so when you look at the cross and see Jesus hanging there, what you do not hear is “Earn this.” You never hear Jesus say, “Earn this.” He doesn’t say, “I’ve given everything for you. Now you need to gut it out for me.” What he says is “Sua sponte.” I volunteered for this. You don’t have to pay anything for it.
Citation: Tom Allen, pastor of Grace Church Seattle, Preaching Today #200
- Jesus freely came—knowing what laid ahead for Him.
- God willingly sent His Son to suffer and die for us.
- Philippians 2:6-12; 2 Cor. 5:21
- Jesus willingly came to suffer and die for us but it was not easy.
- We need to be grateful and have an overwhelming sense of thanksgiving for what He has done for us.
- Our sufferings are nothing compared with His. Hebrews 12:3-5.
- He was the ultimate sacrifice so we can have peace with God. The ultimate gift and the ultimate pleasure we can have.
II. HE BECAME A REFUGEE—Matthew 2:13-18
- Throughout history many Jews had taken refuge in Egypt; it was almost a traditional country to which to flee when there was trouble in Palestine. There was a considerable Jewish minority in that land—there were as many as 1 million Jews in Alexandria and the country beyond.
- Joseph takes his family to Egypt as a way of escape from Herod’s edict.
- V14—“by night”—Joseph, Mary & Jesus must have fled at night immediately following Joseph’s dream. Either it was immediately following or they chose a time when they could leave unobserved.
- It was a fulfillment of prophesy—Hosea 11:1—but it must have been terrifying.
- Many question whether the story of the slaughtered of the children could be true because it is only reported in one Gospel, Matthew. It may well be countered that Herod’s declining years were so full of bloodshed that an incident of this kind might well have gone unreported in our sources.
- Where did Joseph work? How were they received in Egypt?
- Also, Bethlehem was a small place and may well have had no more than 20 or so boys below the age of 2 years.
- Fulfilling God’s Will is not always easy but it comes with great rewards. Mary & Joseph were faithful to obeying God’s commands.
- Why not just immediately move back to Nazareth and ignore the dream? Because they were obedient. I am grateful for their obedience.
- Jesus came to seek & save that which is lost. He must do His father’s business.
III. JESUS CAN CLEARLY EMPATHIZE WITH US.
- Heb. 4:14-16—Jesus suffered His whole life.
- Every stage of His life, He lived a difficult life.
- His parents were not married when He was conceived.
- His father wanted to divorce His mother at first.
- Imagine what people were saying in Nazareth. Son of “Mary.”
- His father probably died while He was young, between the ages of 12-30.
- His family thought He was crazy when He came to fulfill God’s calling upon His life. They wanted to bring Him home.
- He suffered, was tortured, and hung naked on the cross to die for our sins. The ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
On several occasions, King Abdullah II of Jordan has disguised himself and mingled with his subjects. His rationale for this unorthodox approach is to better understand and serve his people. Taking the character of an ordinary old Arab man, he has appeared in public with a fake white beard, wearing the traditional Jordanian kufiah, and the Arabic white dress. While so disguised, the king walked around two government buildings without security and was not noticed. While waiting in a long line, he engaged people in conversation and listened to their point of view.
Such incognito appearances have marked the 42-year-old monarch’s reign since he assumed the throne in 1999. He disguised himself as an old man previously while visiting a hospital. Another time, he circulated around Amman behind the wheel of a taxicab. Still another time, he passed himself off as a television reporter trying to cover a story at a duty-free shop.
According to reporter Costa Tadros, “I think that being in disguise and going around as a normal civilian to listen to their problems and know more about their needs is a good thing. I think it would make a great movie.”
Jordanian government employees aren’t taking any chances. They have started to spend time looking at people’s faces, fearing they could meet the king in disguise.
Citation: Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois; source: Costa Tadros, Crossingborder.com
- God can clearly empathize with our lives.
- Come to Him. Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you.
- He has suffered, even more so than we have.
- Bring all your cares, all your hurts, all your pain—He ha been there and will be there for you.
- Nothing will shock Him.
- He will ask you nothing more than what He Himself has already experienced.
The radiance of the Father’s splendor, the Father’s visible image, Jesus Christ our God, peerless among counselors, Prince of Peace, Father of the world to come, the model after which Adam was formed, for our sakes became like a slave: in the womb of Mary the virgin, without assistance from any man, he took flesh.
Enable us, Lord, to reach the end of this luminous feast in peace, forsaking all idle words, acting virtuously, shunning our passions, and raising ourselves above the things of this world.
Bless your church, which you brought into being long ago and attached to yourself through your own life-giving blood. Help all orthodox pastors, heads of churches, and doctors [theologians].
Bless your servants, whose trust is all in you; bless all Christian souls, the sick, those tormented by evil spirits, and those who have asked us to pray for them.
Show yourself as merciful as you are rich in grace; save and preserve us; enable us to obtain those good things to come which will never know an end.
May we celebrate your glorious birth, and the Father who sent you to redeem us, and your Spirit, the Giver of life, now and forever, age after age. Amen.
Citation: A Syriac Christmas liturgy (late third or early fourth century). “Worship in the Early Church,” Christian History, Issue 37