2000 Advent Devotional

Allan H. Harvey

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death Ė even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

I suspect the standard manger scene isnít fully accurate. It was probably grimier and smellier in those days before modern sanitation. Why would the God of the universe choose such a lowly entrance, rather than riding in on a thunderbolt (like I would if I were God)? Why would Jesus, with all power at his disposal, "empty himself" and take a path of humility and obedience, starting with a peasant birth? Maybe in part to give us an example of placing the needs of others above our own "rights."

But more than an example took place in that manger. By taking on human nature, Christ was taking on the whole human struggle, all the trials and pain that come with living in this fallen world. Knowing that Jesus has been there before us somehow sanctifies our struggles and gives us hope when circumstances would suggest despair. As Anglican priest (and nuclear physicist) John Polkinghorne put it: "The Christian God is not a compassionate spectator, looking down in sympathy on the sufferings of the world; the Christian God is truly the 'fellow sufferer who understands,' for in Christ God has known human suffering and death from the inside." At Christmas, let us thank God not only for the times when he lifts us out of our troubles, but also for his understanding, comforting presence when we are in the midst of them.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this essay are the opinion of the author of this essay alone and should not be taken to represent the views of any other person or organization.

Originally written for 2000 Advent Devotional Book, First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Colorado.
Page last modified June 27, 2001