This has always been, and will continue to remain, the big holiday of my extended family. We gather with both my mom's and my dad's side of the family on Christmas Eve during two separate family functions. It was a blessing to see all of my family again and enjoy the laughs that come so easily with the ones you have loved for years.
However, as good as all of the festivities and gifts are, it's amazing that these temporal things still do not compare with the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ, in the flesh, the incarnate Son of God.
I heard a great sermon yesterday from Pastor Tim Batchelor of Spring Place Baptist Church here in Chatsworth, Georgia. The sermon focused on the meaning of Jesus as Immanuel. It brought to my mind the glorious reality that Jesus Christ walked among real people in real time and space. Brother Tim pointed out that this was not a symbolic title. God incarnate walked among men.
For some reason, my thoughts turned to my new shoes. In a pre-Christmas feeling of compassion, my mom decided to buy me two new pairs of shoes. My old ones were simply horrible. It's hard to describe the condition they were in, but it's like the vinyl part on top was peeling off. They looked pathetic... Both my dad and mom commented on how awful they looked.
At the same time, I thought also of Christ. He was wrapped in swaddling cloths, literally rags. I knew how much I hated wearing my ugly old shoes, but they were all I had. I really didn't have the money to go out and buy some new pairs of shoes to replace. If I had more resources, I sure wouldn't have chosen to keep wearing those old shoes. Yet, when it comes to the incarnation, Christ chose the rags. I don't understand that, but I know that it's true. Christ chose to debase Himself and become low.
My thoughts turn to Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV). Christ "made himself nothing" (Phil. 3:7, ESV) and became a servant. His goal while walking this earth was to glorify the Father and be obedient to Him in all things, including the call to go to Calvary. He chose those rags for His sheep.
My new shoes are a testimony to my parents' generosity and care for me. They have chosen to bestow honor on me through giving me nice things and have taken away the shame of my poor, ratty, old shoes. In a similar way, Christ no longer bears the rags. He no longer endures the suffering of Calvary or the shame of being stripped naked before a crowd and slowly murdered by angry religious zealots.
No, the Father has lifted Him up, and He bears a name to which all in the universe will one day bow. The Father has chosen to honor His Son. He no longer has those rags. Instead, He bears wisdom and power and honor and glory and blessing.
I pray that when I wear my new shoes I'll be reminded of Christ's humiliation and the subsequent glory He bears in His glorified body. I pray that my every step will be a reminder to endure the humiliation of the world as a follower of Jesus Christ as well as a reminder that the pain and suffering of this world brought about by sin will one day vanish.
I thank God for those new shoes, but I think Him even more for the Christ who chose the rags.