Advent 2022 — December 18

Think this in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider being equal with God something to be grasped,
but emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave,
by becoming in the likeness of people.
And being found in appearance like a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death,
that is, death on a cross.
Therefore also God exalted him
and graciously granted him the name above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
of those in heaven and of those on earth and of those under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11


“December 18”[1]
by Paul David Tripp

The Son left his place in heaven so that God’s sons and daughters would be guaranteed their inheritance in heaven. Amazing grace!

The Christmas story is a destination story. It’s about an amazing journey that changed everything. It’s a story about a place left and a place guaranteed. Only God could write this amazing story of the two destinations of grace. Consider how Paul summarized the Christmas story [in today’s passage].

The incredible destination story would not have happened, with all the resulting grace that flows to us every day, if it weren’t for the sacrificial love of the Father and the humble willingness of Jesus. The loving generosity of the Father made him willing to send his Son from the glories of his perfectly holy place to the broken, dysfunctional environs of earth. And the Son didn’t resist the call; he didn’t fight for what was rightly his. He didn’t negotiate the terms, and he didn’t counter with a list of demands. I love how Paul captures it here: Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” You and I should be thinking right now, “Praise God, praise God, praise God that he didn’t!” If Jesus had wrapped his fists around his rightful position of absolute equality with God, you and I, as sinners, would be without hope in life and in death. If Jesus hadn’t been willing to make earth his destination, we would have no hope whatsoever of the new heavens and the new earth being our final destination. This is what we should be celebrating not just during the Christmas season but every single day of our lives. This willingness of the One who was God Almighty to leave the splendor of glory, to take on the normal limits and frailty of the human body, and to endure the daily realities of what it means to live in a terribly broken world is the definition of love.

It’s important to ask what fueled the Messiah’s earth-destination willingness. It’s humbling to write this, but it’s true: Jesus did what he did not because of something special he saw in us, but because of something holy and pure that was inside him. The Christmas narrative simply removes from every one of us any reason for boasting. There was not and is not one person who has any ability to earn or deserve the greatest gift that was ever given. In most gift-giving, there is something in the receiver of the gift that propels the giver. Maybe the person is your employee, and Christmas gives you an opportunity to say thanks. Perhaps the person has been a good friend for a long time, and Christmas is the time you recognize the investment he made in you over the years. Maybe it’s just that the person is your relative, and the back and forth of gift-giving is a product of familial love.

But there simply was nothing in us to propel such a radical choice, such a radical gift that the Creator gave to the creatures who had turned their backs on him. Philippians 2 points us to the one and only thing that would ever make God willing to come to earth to rescue people who were more committed to worshiping themselves than worshiping him. In three words Paul tells us what motivated Jesus’s journey from glory to earth: “he humbled himself.”

You and I don’t really expect powerful leaders to be humble. We expect a bit of arrogant swagger. We expect some boasting of accomplishments and an enjoyment of the results of acquiring power. But the Lord of glory didn’t choose to bask in his glory; instead he emptied himself, took the form of not just a man, but of a lowly servant man. What humility! The Creator took on the body of a created man. The giver of the law submitted himself to the law. What humility! The King of kings placed himself under the rule of human kings. The One who owns everything was willing to live with virtually nothing. The One who is worthy of human worship willingly exposed himself to human rejection. What amazing humility!

Jesus’s humility is our hope. His willingness to leave glory unleashed glory on us and guaranteed that we would live with him in glory forever. He made this broken world his destination so that our final destination would be a place where every form of brokenness has ended, and where we would live with him in a complete peace and harmony that will never end. But the humility of Jesus didn’t end with his birth; it shaped the way he lived. He lived a humble, homeless life of daily service. The One whom creation was made to serve came not to be served, but to serve. It would have taken great humility for Jesus to leave his rightful place as God and live a lavishly rich life on earth, because no human wealth or power could compare with his rightful place. But he willingly emptied himself of all those rights and privileges, because he didn’t come for himself—he came for us. But his humility didn’t even end with his humble servant’s life: Jesus’s humility carried him to the cross. Without words or actions in his own defense, he humbly became the final sacrificial lamb, dying so that we would live. So this Christmas remember that what you celebrate is a destination story. Jesus left what was his right, to guarantee for us a place that is not our right but is a gift from his humble hands.


[1] Paul David Tripp, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).

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