That First Christmas, What Jesus Sacrificed for Us.

Posted: December 24, 2008 in Christmas, loving your neighbor
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 “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” Philippians 2:5-7

 

We usually think of the Cross as the sacrifice that Jesus made so that we could be free from the bondage of our sin and all that goes with it. But Christmas is really the place where we see the first sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We don’t find it so much in what the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us about that birth, but rather in the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the Philippians.  

Think of what Jesus had prior to coming into the world. Paul calls it, “equality with God”. Jesus was one with the Father with all the glory, splendor, power, holiness, and delight that goes with being God. He was on the receiving end of the worship of all creation. He was literally in heaven. But He did not consider for a moment hanging on to all of that. He willingly gave it up for us. He not only gave it up, but exchanged it to be born into the world as a frail, helpless, totally dependent baby, son of an unwed mother, in a backwater village ruled by a army of occupation. He set aside His omnipotence, and omnipresence. He laid aside His splendor and majesty. No longer was he wrapped in glorious, marvelous light, but rather in homespun clothe common to every baby in the land. No longer would He be on the receiving end of the serving of the angels but rather He would be the humble one, taking on the form of a servant for us. He went from living in the palace to serving in the barn. 

I don’t think we can even begin to grasp what a sacrifice He made for us 30 years before even going to the cross. But we can get a hint in a rather surprising story. It is in John 11:35 when we are told “Jesus wept”. He was standing at the entrance to the tomb of his friend Lazarus who had died a few days earlier. The people standing around think that Jesus weeps out of grief because his friend had died. I’m not so sure. For starters, Jesus more than anyone would have understood that Lazarus was in heaven and free of pain and sorrow. He would also have known for certain that he would see Lazarus again soon in heaven.

So why the weeping? The clue is found in Luke 16. Of all the parable that Jesus told, with dozens and dozens of characters in them, only one is ever given a name. Usually they are just referred to as, “a certain man”, or “a father”, or “a woman”, or “a Samaritan”. But in Luke 16  Jesus speak of a very poor man who suffered much in life. Jesus gives this poor man the name Lazarus. Lazarus was a sickly man who begged for his living each day and was ignored by “a certain rich man”. Both of them died, the rich man going to Hades and Lazarus going to paradise. I wonder if Jesus didn’t name the poor man in the parable, Lazarus as a way to honor his friend Lazarus who died in John 11. 

Why would Jesus honor his friend this way? It is the same reason that he weeps at his friends grave. Jesus knew more than anyone what he was asking Lazarus to give up by being raised from the dead. Jesus knew the splendor and joy that Lazarus was experiencing in heaven at that moment. He knew it because it was his entire experience before being born in that stable. I wonder if Jesus didn’t weep because of the sacrifice he was asking Lazarus to make. The thought of forcing someone to give up the overwhelming joy of being in the very presence of the Father caused Jesus to weep for his friend. He knew what he was asking because he first made that same sacrifice himself. He made it for you and for me. 

Blessings to you this Christmas. May the sacrifice Jesus made for you fill you with wonder and thanks and may it cause you to have His same mind, that you consider others more important than yourself and thus honor Him who is the Lord.

Merry Christmas

Dan

Comments
  1. Very thought provoking post. I appreciate your picture of Jesus’ heart for Lazarus and the humanity of his situation.

  2. Jemima says:

    May I ask a question Dan? If it says in Colossians 1:18 and also Revelation 1:5 that Jesus is “the firstborn from the dead”, doesn’t that mean that no one experienced a heavenly resurrection before him? At the moment Jesus died, the huge curtain that divided the Holy from the Most Holy in God’s temple was rent in two, from top to bottom. Apparently this beautifully ornamented curtain was some 60 feet [18 m] high and very heavy! This astonishing miracle not only manifested God’s wrath against the killers of His Son but signified that the way into the Most Holy, heaven itself, is now made possible by Jesus’ death. (Hebrews 10:19,20)
    Jesus’ friend Lazarus was “sleeping” in death, just as Jesus said he was. He was not in heaven because no one was able to go there before Jesus.

  3. Dan Lacich says:

    Jemima,
    There is a difference between heavenly resurrection and having ones soul living in paradise or in heaven. Resurrection has to do with a physical body being raised and reunited with the soul for eternity. The resurrection is a future event of the body.
    That leaves the issue of the state of the souls of the dead right now. Clearly we differ on this. I think it is perfectly clear that anyone who died believing in Jesus is present with him right now in a spiritual existence. When Jesus returns and the resurrection of the body takes place, the soul and body are reunited, heaven and earth are made one, and we live with the lord in a physical/spiritual realm for ever.
    The idea that our soul is asleep until the resurrection and that we are not experiencing consciousness until Jesus comes back, does not fit the teaching of the Bible.
    Dan

  4. Jemima says:

    Dan, again I must ask, where in the Bible does it say we have an immortal soul? Where does it talk about this ‘reuniting of the soul with the body’? Where does it talk about ‘heaven and earth being made one’? This is based on theology not scripture. (Matthew 15:8, 9) The Bible does not say anything about a conscious existence after death, on the contrary, Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 says “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten….All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, (the grave) the place to which you are going.” (No thinking, no activity in death.)
    Psalm 104:29, “If you take away their spirit, they expire, And back to their dust they go.“
    Psalm 146:3,4 says “Do not put your trust in nobles, Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; In that day his thoughts do perish.” (No thought process in death indicated here either.)
    The spirit or life force “goes out” the same way a candle or a light ”goes out”. It is simply extinguished. Ezekiel 18:4 tells us that the soul dies. Adam was not ‘given’ a soul, but “became” one with the breath of life. The life force is sustained by breathing, without breath, the soul (you) dies.
    It is written at Ecclesiastes 3:19: “For there is an eventuality as respects the sons of mankind and an eventuality as respects the beast, and they have the same eventuality. As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit.” It goes on to say they ‘all return to the dust.’ If animals were never promised everlasting life and are still called “souls”, with the same “spirit” that animates man, what is that telling you? (Genesis 1:20, 24)
    The New Bible Dictionary by J. D. Douglas states: “…nowhere in the Bible do we get a view of man as existing apart from the body, even after death in a future life.”
    The notion of an immortal soul comes from Platonic Greek thinking, not from Scripture. Man had to invent a place for immortal souls to go because, being designed to live forever, (in the flesh) they simply couldn’t imagine themselves out of existence.
    I know you think you could never entertain such a notion, but I will ask you to think seriously about what you teach others. The double accountability, if you are in error, will be a heavy burden leading to an awful judgment. Is there any possible way that you could have been misled by those who have been misled before you? Satan is behind all false worship; being the master deceiver, how does one know if they are being fooled by an expert? (1 Corinthians 10:12)
    Remember that only a “few” are actually on the road to life. That means that the MAJORITY are in error.

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