[I can’t believe it. I just went to write a new post when I saw that this post, which I wrote on 12/20/11 was still a draft. I never published it. The bad news is that it is now more than one month after Christmas, so it loses some of its immediacy. The good news is that I don’t have to feel guilty about not writing a post today. 🙂 ]
The title of this post sounds more appropriate for Good Friday than Christmas. Most everyone would recognize Christ’s death on the cross as the supreme sacrificial act. It’s worth considering, however, whether the greatest sacrifice that Jesus performed was the crucifixion or the incarnation.
The horror of the crucifixion is obvious. There’s no denying it. It’s a torturous way to die. Add to that the Christian concept that the cross was the only time God and His Son were separated and that Jesus endured the shame, punishment, and guilt of all sin for all people for all time while on the cross.
But the incarnation involved tremendous sacrifice as well. Jesus gave up His place at the right hand of the Father. He willingly gave up much of the inherent power and privilege of His deity. He put Himself, His very survival in the hands of a young, inexperienced, poor, unmarried couple. He went from omnipotent to helpless, from eternal to time-constrained, from creator of all things to pauper.
The manger was not a pristine bed with a downy white mattress such as the one shown in the photo above. It was a feeding trough for farm animals. It was likely covered in bovine saliva and other assorted similarly distasteful substances. We won’t even talk about the smell. According to Christian theology, Jesus last abode before that manger was a heavenly throne.
How many great men or women have willingly relinquished any power, much less omnipotence, for the sake of others? It’s just not done. Yet Jesus gave up everything, leaving the beauty of heaven for the chaos and messiness of earth. Even had He never faced the cross, it would have been the greatest, most sacrificial act in history.
And that’s the model for me. Deny myself. Sacrifice. Give up my life for others. He taught it. He lived it. He expects nothing less from me. Jesus set the standard at the manger before He did so on the cross.
“Ho-ho-ho” somehow misses the point.