Focal Passage: Philippians 2:5-11
Not only do the gospels contain early Christian hymns and
songs, but also there are numerous found in the writings of Paul and John. Our
text from Paul’s letter to the Philippians is believed to be a hymn of
confession sung during a baptismal service. The heart of the hymn is the
powerful confession; “Jesus Christ is Lord!” which comes at the climax of the
adoration of Christ “as all creatures throughout the universe bow down and
submit to His dominion” (Ralph Martin) to the glory of God the Father.
How appropriate to sing this first century hymn to the
humiliation (self-renunciation) and exaltation of Jesus Christ. Though one
would not associate this passage to Christmas hymnody, it does present an
account of the simplicity/humility of Christ in his coming (emptying himself of
his divinity) which ultimately leads to the cross and his subsequent exaltation
There have been many good and wise people who have tried to
be instruments of positive change for this world, promising benefits and
blessings that merely change the external without bringing true redemption and
spiritual liberty. God, in Christ Jesus did; He stooped down to earth and
became that means of salvation to all creation.
Theologian Paul Tillich writes, “Even the greatest in power
and wisdom could not more fully reveal the heart of God and the heart of man
than the Crucified has done already.
Those things have been revealed once for all. ‘It is finished.’ In the
face of the Crucified all the ‘more’ and all the ‘less,’ all progress and all
approximation are meaningless. Therefore we can say of Him alone: He is the new
Reality; He is the end.” He is Lord!
Christmas is more than what occurred in Bethlehem and later,
Nazareth. It is more than shepherds, wise men, a manger and angelic hosts
(though each is an important part of that story). It is about the long-expected
One, the promised Child born of a virgin, the Dayspring, the pre-existent One
who emptied himself of that divine equality, that “morphe” (form as in
unchangeability) of God that took on the “schema” (form as in outward
changeability) of humanity.
Christmas is the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Lord and the
coming time when all creation will worship him who the shepherds, wise men, and
“Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting
“Late in time, behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!
“Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.
“Hark, the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King.’”