Christmas is all about humiliation.
The consequences of Eve’s actions in the garden meant that she would experience pain as she bore children (Gen. 3:16). The first command (Gen. 1:28) would now have severe consequences.
What child birth might have looked like in a perfect world would be interesting. I’m sure any woman who has birthed a child in this fallen world would be all too eager to find out. Regardless, now, even with the coming of Christ, children are born through pain, through labor.
Now consider this, this is the way Jesus was born. He was born of the virgin Mary. Mary bore Jesus and experienced the pain of childbirth. Jesus did not come as a mighty, mature King riding on the clouds. He humbled himself and was born. He who was outside of time and space, entered time and space – this is humbling, this is humiliating.
He was born next to animal dung.
Shepherds, the lowest of lows in society, came to see him.
He was hunted as an infant in an attempt to be murdered by a king.
As his life continued he would have nowhere to sleep.
He would have to slip away so as to not be stoned.
His body would then one day be striped to utter exposure and shame as he hung on a cursed tree with nothing to cover his mangled body.
On that tree he died and was buried, entering into the uttermost of humiliation.
The incarnation begins in humiliation with his birth and it ends in humiliation with his crucifixion.
Yet that is not the whole story. He who humbled himself would be glorified and seated at the place of greatest praise and honor where he judges the nations and intercedes for the saints, as the time of his second coming draws near.
As the ancient hymn that Paul quoted goes, “he made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7). Consider this, the one who was before the beginning, who holds the storehouses of snow, who commands lightning, who splits seas. This One, the Word, has taken on flesh and dwelt among us. Dwelt amongst our sorrow, our pain, our loneliness. As Julia of Norwich said concerning Jesus, “Though more than human, he was willing to become the least among humanity, despised and rejected.”
The Christmas story on a silent night, in the little town of Bethlehem as the herald angels sing is a wonder to behold, precisely because God entered humiliation. He entered our lives, he came to our worst and gave us His best, His very self that we might be saved. A salvation, my friends, that does not end in humiliation, but endures forever in glorification when our King returns and makes all things new.
Christmas is all about humiliation and it’s to this state that God will go so that we would know God’s great love for us.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.