This short essay is taken from the book, The Incarnation and the Exultation: An Advent Devotional. This devotional reflects on the scriptures of incarnation and exaltation in order to take you on a journey of thoughtful self-reflection. It is meant to draw you more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world to help you walk your own inner path toward the season of Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of Christ into your lives during Advent and spend time reflecting on the readings in this devotional, may the light and love that entered our world lead you to the cross in wonder and thanksgiving. May you find joy and discover strength as you walk this wondrous journey to Bethlehem, always holding within your heart the image of the Hill of Calvary and the hope of the Age to come when Christ will return to call his people home!
Incarnation – “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…” (Luke 1:68-69)
Exaltation – And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11:3-4)
It is a profound and sobering thought to consider that the One who came to redeem the lost is also the One who will judge the wicked. In the quiet of the incarnation lies a power that overwhelms the world. The little baby of Bethlehem is the all-knowing, perfect, and righteous judge of humanity. He considers the struggle of the poor and oppressed and makes compassionate decisions about them while striking down the wicked in the end. God will judge by what is right as he redeems his chosen ones with perfect love.
Such marvelous truth should motivate our love for others and guide our treatment of the poor. Our righteousness must exceed mere religiosity and reveal itself in true compassion that breaks our hearts with love for the lost. Those who have come to see the truth of the incarnation must live courageous lives in service to the cause of charity in this world.
The incarnation and entire life of Jesus appear counter to the culture in which we live. We want to be rich; he was born in poverty. We strive to be strong; he came in weakness and humility. We seek to satisfy our own needs; he came to surrender his life for the world. God saw and judged his Son as worthy to receive the glory of heaven, and he looks upon our lives and judges us through Christ’s mercy. That reality should overwhelm our spirits and spill out in words of truth and acts of love to a broken world.
Prayer: Oh Great God, teach me of the weakness that is strength, the surrender that is victory, and the death that is life so that my every word and deed may mirror the righteousness of Christ every day of my life…Amen!
Our Redeemer raised to render,
Hope for every suff’ring child.
Righteous wrath for wicked sinners,
Mercy for the meek and mild.