Thoughts to Ponder

What did Jesus do?

As we celebrate Christ's birth at Christmas time, how many of us really stop to think about what that birth meant and what Jesus did by being born as a human being?

To truly understand what Jesus did we have to understand who Jesus was before He became one of us:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was with God in the beginning. [3] Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. [NIV]

We are all humans so I think we fail to really understand what love it took for the Creator to become part of His creation.

Hebrews 2:14-18 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- [15] and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. [16] For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. [17] For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. [18] Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. [NIV]

This passage is often quoted to show that Jesus understands our temptations and our struggles, but again I think we miss the true significance many times.

He was made like us in every way. So the Creator of everything, seen and unseen, became like us in every way and experienced what we experience. He experienced pleasure and pain, comfort and discomfort. As an infant, He cried when He was hungry, just like any other baby. He cried when He had soiled diapers, just like we did as infants. He became one of us in every way. People don't like to think about this, but it is not degrading to remember what He went through, it is glorifying because it shows how much He went through for us.

Jesus remained God while becoming a human, but He didn't take advantage of being God as we might think. For example, I know that the Holy Spirit ministered to Him and He talked to the Father often, but I don't think that He retained His knowledge of everything while a human. Let me try to explain. Jesus often quoted from God's word. It is easy to think that is no big deal, after all God's word was His word. I don't think it was that easy, although I am sure that Jesus knew who He was and what His purpose was, I believe that He set aside much of His knowledge and learned as we learn.

Isaiah 50:4-6
    The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
        to know the word that sustains the weary.
    He wakens me morning by morning,
        wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. [5]
    The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears,
        and I have not been rebellious;
        I have not drawn back. [6]
    I offered my back to those who beat me,
        my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
    I did not hide my face
        from mocking and spitting. [NIV]

This passage is what we call a Messianic prophecy, meaning that it is about the Messiah and of course the Messiah is Jesus. Jesus learned God's word morning by morning as He was taught by the Holy Spirit. My point to this is that it took effort on His part, He didn't just know everything because He was God. He became just like us in every way.

I don't want to give the impression that while on this earth He didn't have any divine attributes because He did. He preformed many miracles. I am just trying to show that He really was one of us and didn't take advantage of His divinity.

When Jesus was twelve His family visited Jerusalem to worship and when it became time to leave, His (earthly) parents assumed He was with the other children and left for home. When they finally missed Him, they returned to Jerusalem and found Him in the Temple.

Luke 2:49-51 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" [50] But they did not understand what he was saying to them. [51] Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. [NIV]

Notice verse 51, He went with them and was obedient to them. This passage shows that they didn't really understand who He was, yet He remained obedient to them. Any parent of a teenager knows this is not a minor thing. Most teenagers think they know better than their parents what they should do in their lives, Jesus really did, yet He submitted Himself to their authority.

Hebrews 5:7-10 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. [8] Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered [9] and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him [10] and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. [NIV]

People often have a hard time with this passage. They have trouble because Jesus was God, so how can it say that He learned obedience? What they forget is that Jesus was fully God and fully human. He set aside much of His divine nature in order to become a human being. That does not mean He was not God while on earth, but that He was willing to humble Himself and be one of us without using His divinity to do things the easy way.

Jesus was willing to become the Son of God and be in submission to the Father even though He has always been co-equal with the Father.

Philip. 2:6-8
    Who, being in very nature God,
        did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, [7]
    but made himself nothing,
        taking the very nature of a servant,
        being made in human likeness. [8]
    And being found in appearance as a man,
        he humbled himself
        and became obedient to death--
            even death on a cross! [NIV]

It is also important to understand that God didn't make any mistakes. He didn't create us and then after seeing us sin and rebel try to figure out a way to redeem us. On the contrary He had in place the plan of salvation before He even created us. Jesus was chosen to be our redeemer and suffer and die for us before He created us.

1 Peter 1:20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. [NIV]

Before He created us, Jesus submitted to being one of us, to suffer at our hands and for our sins, to be lower than the angels for a little while.

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. [NIV]

Oh how the angels must have marveled at the love He showed for those rebellious, ignorant, ungrateful humans. I have to wonder if any of the angels ever went to the Father and asked permission to destroy those who caused Christ's suffering, and make no mistake we are all guilty of causing His suffering, because it was our sins that He suffered and died to pay for. The angels saw and knew the injustices that Jesus went through, it must have made them angry. Yet the Father and also the Son, continued on their united objective of redeeming us.

So this Christmas season as you think of Jesus' birth don't just think of that tiny infant but remember this was the Creator the Lord God Almighty, who came to earth as one of us so that He could redeem us and taste death for all of us.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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December 2005