Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Philippians 2:5-11 in Phillips New Testament (PNT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The incarnation of Jesus Christ is a great mystery.
We should approach this week’s topic by taking off our metaphorical shoes. We are standing on Holy Ground. God was fully man yet did not lose His divinity. He clothed His divinity in human flesh—God incarnate. It is indeed a mystery. Ellen White made the following observations about the nature of Christ:
In contemplating the incarnation of Christ in humanity, we stand baffled before an unfathomable mystery, that the human mind cannot comprehend. (Signs of the Times, July 30, 1896)
We cannot explain the great mystery of the plan of redemption. Jesus took upon Himself humanity, that He might reach humanity; but we cannot explain how divinity was clothed with humanity. (Review and Herald, Oct. 1, 1889)
But she also wrote, “The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. . . . And the study of the incarnation of Christ is a fruitful field, which will repay the searcher who digs deep for hidden truth” (1 Selected Messages, p. 244).
And the Bible reminds us that, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29, KJV).
So, what has been revealed to us about the incarnation of Jesus?
The story, as opposed to the concept, or the theory, of the incarnation, is found in the Gospels, yet each of the Gospels approaches the subject differently. Mark skips it altogether. John paints it with very metaphysical language. Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s point of view (“The angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost,” Matthew 1:20, KJV), while Luke views it through Mary’s eyes (“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” Luke 1:34, 35, KJV).
The Holy Ghost “came upon” Mary, “overshadowed” her and “conceived in her” a “holy thing” which was to be called the Son of God.” This is indeed a great and wonderful mystery, but as we’ll see tomorrow, it was not an altogether unique story.
Recalibrate: Try to empathize with Mary and Joseph. They were, or became, willing to birth and parent this child of dual natures, but how do you think they felt? What were the benefits and the disadvantages? How did this change their lives?
Respond: Pray for understanding regarding the incarnation of Christ, and willingness to follow Him no matter where He may lead.
Remember: “Jesus has always been as God is” (Philippians 2:6a, NLV).
Mark is executive director of the public health department in Jefferson County, one of the most populous counties in the state of Colorado. He received his medical training at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University and is board certified in preventive medicine and public health. He is chair of the vision board at Boulder Adventist Church where he is a regular preacher. Mark is married to Diane and they have two adult children and three granddaughters.
The Bible tells us that although Jesus is a king, He came to earth to serve us. He came to earth to die for our sins. Tell your child the story of Jesus’s birth—how God came down from heaven and landed in a manger. Tell them how Jesus was a baby just like they once were. Take time to tell this story, to shine a flashlight to represent the star, to make animal noises, and to sing Christmas songs. Let your child ask questions and use their imagination to describe what it must have been like.
What are some of the things you know about the Christmas story of baby Jesus? What city was He born? What kind of place was He born? Who welcomed Him and visited Him? What helped point those people in the right direction so they could find Him? The Bible tells us that Jesus, who is God, who had a throne in heaven, came down to earth to be a baby, and was born in a place where animals eat. Jesus came with humility. Humility means that you don’t go out of your way to show off how great you are. Jesus, a king, came to the earth to be a servant and to die to save us; that’s humility. What is something you can do to show humility today?
When someone does something that hurts you and then they ask for forgiveness, what is your reaction? I find that in this scenario it is easy to seek revenge and get back at the person. Or maybe gossip about them and tell the whole world how they made you feel. If I am going to be honest with you, this is my mindset 99% of the time. It is easy to harbor unforgiveness in my heart and to let it reside there. However, when I think about what Christ has done for me and how He has forgiven me for all that I have done, it changes my heart. If the Son of God with all the riches, splendor, and perfection He enjoyed in heaven, gave it all up to suffer a punishment that He didn’t deserve just so I wouldn’t have to go through something similar, how much more should I be forgiving of those who wrong me? Who am I to hold on to my feelings of anger when Jesus gave up His rights for me? As we start the beginning of a new week, take some time to think over what Christ gave up for us and how we can display that same type of forgiveness for other people.