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 – Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
Exaltation – And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)
During this week, we want to focus on the joy that is ours through the incredible miracle of God’s love that spoke itself into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. As we light the final candle of the Advent wreath, we meditate on the stories of Christmas. Here in this short passage from Philippians we have both the incarnation and the exaltation of Christ, a perfect summary of the purpose and pleasure of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who loved us enough to put on human flesh. What a glorious time we celebrate at Christmas!
The stories of the manger and the shepherds, the angels and the star, the wise men and the cruel king may bring us warm feelings at Christmas. But if we truly examine just how profound Christ’s coming into the world was as we look at the events surrounding his birth, we will be left in awe and wonder. Like the passage from Philippians, these stories contain both the incarnation and the exaltation of the One who came as the God-man, leaving his throne to be born as a child, so that he could one day suffer for our salvation.
Though Jesus was equal to the Father, he chose to live as a servant, in total submission and obedience to the Father’s will. He walked the paths of this broken world, experienced cold, hunger, sorrow, and all the same struggles that humanity has ever faced; and yet he never once sinned. His death on the cross, the cruelest form of torture ever created, has won for us our salvation and exalted Christ to the highest place in heaven, where all creation bows to his holy name. This is what salvation is all about. And though it is truly an incomprehensible mystery, it touches us with the greatest sense of joy!
This week, we will read the stories of Christmas with new eyes as we consider how the truths within them have been fleshed out in this devotional. Take time to pray in preparation for the days leading up to Christmas, and celebrate the birth of your Savior with fear and trembling, wonder and joy, meditating on the miracle of the incarnation and the majesty of the exaltation of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Merciful God, may I reflect on the earthier aspects of the incarnation as I read through the stories of the birth of your Son. Let the sights, sounds, and scents of Christmas remind me of the great sacrament of our salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ…Amen!
Sinless Savior boldly enters,
Into flesh our souls to save.
Full submission to the Father,
From the cradle to the grave.