The end of the old year and the start of a new year is a good time for personal self-reflection regarding our level of spiritual maturity. Maturity is an important theme in the New Testament’s view of the Christian life, and in the final sermon for 2019, we will look at Paul’s connection between personal spiritual maturity and stability in one’s life and doctrine.
The pride of thinking they knew better than God was the root of Adam and Eve’s first sin and it continues to be the root of our sin each day. Only a Savior who was born in humility, lived in humility, and died in humility is able to atone for the sin of our pride and enable us to live graciously before God and one another.
There were a variety of responses to the announcement of Jesus’ birth. King Herod responded with murderous rage. Priest Zachariah responded with skeptical doubt. Joseph responded with thoughts of divorce. But a poor, teenage girl from Nazareth responded with faithful submission. When presented with the Word of the Lord, she obediently reflected her Savior who would later say, “Thy will be done” supremely on the cross. Luke reminds us that the birth of our Lord calls us to not only rejoice, but to submit our lives to the One who first gave His life for us.
Most people come and go without notice. Really important people have a herald announce them a minute before they arrive. As the time came for Jesus to be born, God sent a mighty angel from heaven, to the center of His temple, over a year in advance, to announce the birth of the one who would announce the ministry of the Lord Jesus. What a great King Luke prepares us for! And Jesus is the King who not only proclaims His salvation to us, but who calls us to be His heralds to the nations.
Advent, the four weeks leading up Christmas, is the time the church has set aside to recognize Jesus’ incarnation as the long-awaited Messiah. And while we think of Christmas in terms of giving gifts, we rarely think of one of the important implications of the incarnation. Using Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, we’ll see that we are to imitate Jesus in his incarnation by being self-sacrificing and unselfish – hardly the typical Christmas message, but one that reflects a Christ-centered view of the incarnation.