Chapter 48: The Mystery of Christmas - Radical

Chapter 48: The Mystery of Christmas

God’s nature can be mysterious. He is one God in three Persons, holy above us yet near to us, powerful and patient, sovereign and free, wrathful and merciful, just and forgiving, and altogether great and good. In this message on Colossians 2:5–11, Pastor David Platt reflects on the mysterious nature of God at Christmas.

  1. The Question We Need To Ask
  2. The Baby We Need To See
  3. The Decision We Need To Make

If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to find Philippians 2:5, as we think about the mystery of Christmas. I preached on Romans 9 last week, and I’ve received a variety of e-mails, many of them really encouraging and many wondering about this or that. So, I thought it might be helpful, even before we dive into Philippians 2, to remind us of some truths to remember, especially when we encounter tough texts like we did this last week.

I just want to put three truths before you to remember. One, we need to remember that God’s nature can be mysterious. You think about it. He’s one God in three persons. You stop there, and we are already baffled, right? You stop there, and we have already gone way beyond the bounds of our finite minds and our reason. There’s no contradiction there, but there is mystery here. He’s wholly above us, yet near to us. How can He be both powerful and patient? He’s sovereign and free, wrathful and merciful, just and forgiving, and altogether great and good.

If last week, you found it difficult to keep God in the small box you had created for Him, then part of my purpose was accomplished. If last week, you walked away thinking, “Wow, God’s character is far more mysterious in these ways than I had imagined,” then don’t run from that. I want to be careful here. Whenever we resort to calling something mystery, it’s not because we’re intellectually lazy. Whenever we can’t figure something out, we don’t just say, “Okay, that’s a mystery,” and move on. We’re not throwing our brains out the door. However, at the same time, the biblical testimony leaves us with mystery at different points. It leaves us with truths that we put next to each other, and our finite minds have a hard time figuring out how they go together.

A.W. Tozer said, “Left to ourselves, we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him. We want a God that we can, in some measure, control.” Then, he commented, “Love and faith are at home in the mystery of the Godhead. Let reason kneel in reverence outside.” We’re going to see that today in Philippians 2. Jesus is both God and man. That’s a mystery. Now, it’s a little different than Romans 9. It’s not going to be as much of an affront to human autonomy as Romans 9, but it’s a mystery nonetheless.

Now, a second truth we need to remember, especially in light of God’s sovereign mercy, is that man’s responsibility can’t be ignored. This is, obviously, a huge danger that comes with a high view of the sovereignty of God, that we will minimize or ignore the responsibility of man, but you look all over Scripture, and you see God’s Word to unbelievers saying, “Recognize your sin and receive God’s mercy.” That right there is the message for every person in all creation who has never trusted in Christ for the salvation of your sins. Recognize your sin. See that you have willfully and deliberately chosen to disobey God. You have turned against Him. You have rebelled against a holy God, and in your rebellion, you are deserving of infinite judgment.

Colossians 2 5–11 Reminds Us that Christ is a Gift from God

He has sent His Son out of His love for the world. This is, as the angel announced, “Good news of great joy for all people. A Savior has been born.” God desires the salvation of every single person on the planet. His mercy is available to you. Receive His mercy. Trust what He has done out of love and grace for the people He has created in sending Christ to die on the cross.

This is the picture. Recognize your sin and receive His mercy. Romans 10 says, “Call on the name of the Lord, and you will be saved. Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord. Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. You will be saved.” Period. Unbelievers, recognize your sin and receive God’s mercy.

Believers, worship God humbly. It is not possible to believe Romans 9 and walk away proud, and yet, so often, those who espouse a high view of the sovereignty of God can be so arrogant in their theology. Don’t go there. That’s not possible in view of God’s sovereign mercy. Worship Him humbly and walk with God purely. Oh, do you see how God is eternally, graciously, and sovereignly interested in and involved in your salvation? Do not resist Him anymore. Let go of sin and pride and impurity and trust Him. He can be trusted with every detail in your life.

Walk with Him in purity and trust God wholeheartedly. This is the beauty of God’s sovereignty in all things, to know that He is not powerless when it comes to the circumstances of our lives. He is powerful over the circumstances of our lives, so that you can know, at this moment, that no matter what happens to you today, no matter what happens to you this week that God does, and God is sovereign over it all, and He has promised to use every single detail of it for your good and His glory.

Colossians 2 5–11 Encourages Us to Trust in God

Trust Him. That’s a rock to stand on. Trust Him wholeheartedly and pray to Him fervently. There are some who, when you think about the sovereignty of God, will say, “Well, if everything is just destined to happen the way it’s going to happen, then it, obviously, doesn’t matter what I do or anybody else does. Why does prayer matter? I want to pray, but things are just going to happen the way God has ordained them to happen.”

No, that kind of approach is never seen in Scripture. We pray to God because God has ordained the prayers of His people to conform His people into His image and to bring about His purposes in the world. I think about my sons. They’re three and four years old. Do I know for sure that they will be saved? No, I don’t know that. However, every single morning, I am praying and pleading to God on their behalf, that He would show love and mercy to them. I pray that He would draw them to Himself, and I’m proclaiming the gospel to them confidently, every day to them as I parent them and discipline them and love them and nurture them. I want them to see the gospel because I know that God has ordained to draw people to Himself through the prayers of His people and the proclamation of the gospel. I want that to be evident, and I want that to be true every day in my life as their dad.

So, the picture is, when we come to texts like these, Romans 9, for example, or Philippians 2, like we’re going to talk about today, it’s not that we will have all our questions answered. We’ll probably walk away with more questions than we had when we came in. However, here’s the deal: I want to shepherd you well, and I believe that part of shepherding you well is not shying away from hard texts in Scripture.

I think one of the things I heard most this last week was people who said, “Well, the week before when we were reading through Romans, I was wondering, ‘What in the world does Romans 9 mean?’” I don’t want to leave you hanging. I want to, as best as possible by the grace of God in me, humbly and pastorally, not as one who has it all figured out, but I want to walk us through the texts of Scripture and to see what they are saying, and to believe what they are saying.

This leads to the last truth I want to remind you of: God’s Word can be trusted. God’s Word can be trusted to drive our theology. I want to say again now what I said last week. My goal, week by week, is in no way to promote a certain theological agenda, or to bring us into a certain theological system. My goal is to preach the text before us, week by week. As the text says it, I want to say it, and if the text doesn’t say it, I don’t want to say it.

My goal is not to make us Arminian, or Calvinist, cessationist or non-cessationist, this or that, or whatever label that people want to put on things. My goal is for us to walk, week by week, through God’s Word, and when we see in Romans 9:11 that God’s purpose in election will stand, we’re going to believe that. Then, when we see in John 3:16, that He loves the whole world and gave His Son, that whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life, we’re going to believe that. When we see in Ephesians 1 that God chose us in Him before the creation of the world, we’re going to believe that. Then, when we see in 2 Peter 3:9 that God desires the salvation of every single person and desires all people to come to repentance, we’re going to believe that.

The beauty is, as we do this, the Word will lead our faith family. The beauty is, no one text is going to sum it all up. One of the dangerous temptations is to take a week in Romans 9 and just start to throw in, “Okay, well then everything else in Scripture is out the window.” No, like, this all goes together, and if we take one text, and we disconnect it from other texts, we’ll miss part of the point.

It’s like Galatians. If all we have is Galatians, we may have a skewed picture of the gospel. Or if all we have is James, we’ll probably walk away with a skewed picture of the gospel. The beauty is, though, we’ve got Galatians and James and Philippians and Romans and everything else together; this is why we do what we do every week. This is why we do it. We go through a text of Scripture week by week, and we trust that God, by His Spirit, through His Word, will conform our finite minds and our sinful hearts to His infinite glory, and His infinite wisdom, and His precious love and mercy.

These Verses Talk About a Coming Day Where we Will Sin no More

Yes, we struggle here, but there is coming a day when sin will be no more, and we will see Him truly, and see Him wholly as He is, and our questions will be no more. So, until that day, we want to seek in, press in, and trust His Word to lead and guide us for His name’s sake. So, those are just a few truths to remember. Keep them in mind even as we talk about this mystery today, the mystery of Christmas.

The Question We Need To Ask…

Here’s the question we’ve got to ask at Christmas. We must dare to ask: “Who is Jesus?” Who is this baby born in a manger? This is an historic, important, awesome, and personal question. It’s historic. This was the major question debated by church leaders during the first few centuries of the church. Heresies abounded based on answers to this question. It’s important; it’s vital and essential. This question, obviously, drives the wedge between traditional Judaism and Christianity. This question is the stumbling block for Muslims, for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and for Unitarians when they think about Christianity.

This is historic and important. It is an awesome question, when you think about it, to say that the baby in the manger is God in the flesh. That is probably the most staggering claim in all of Christianity. You think about it with me. Once you accept that claim, everything else makes sense. Is it really that astounding to see Jesus walking on the water if we know that He created the water? Is it really that astounding to see Him take five loaves and two fish and feed over 5,000 people, when we know that He created the loaves and the fish and the stomachs of every single person that’s digesting the food?

Is it really that astounding that He is telling the people that are dead to come back to life, that He Himself comes back to life, once you receive, accept, believe, embrace the Incarnation? When you believe that, it’s not really that astounding that Jesus rose from the dead. What’s astounding is that He died in the first place, right? This is one awesome thought, and if Jesus is God, if this baby is God, then this is too awesome to drown out with stockings and sleigh bells this time of year.

It is a personal question. The answer to this question has ramifications for every single person in all history and all 6.8 billion people on the planet. All of their lives for all eternity are dependent on how they answer this question. Your life for all of eternity is dependent on how you answer this question. Who you say Jesus is determines everything about how you live.

This question determines everything about how we live, and so I want to focus in on this question. I want us to realize, even in the church, if we’re not careful, around Christmas we will talk about shepherds and angels and wise men and Joseph and Mary and mangers and oxen and this and that. However, the mystery of Christmas is not found primarily in the circumstances of the birth of Jesus; the mystery of Christmas is found primarily in the identity of the baby in the manger. This is where the mystery lies, in the shocking reality that God has revealed His glory in a crying, screaming, bed-wetting baby, looking up into the sky, only able to wiggle around in His bed. That is an astounding thought.

The Baby We Need To See…

So, I want us to look at this text. We’ve already read verses 5 and 6 that lead us to this first truth about the baby that we need to see. We’re going to look at it, and then we’re going to pause and worship. 

The first truth is the baby in the manger is God. Now, we don’t have time to go all over Scripture, thinking about how we see this in God’s Word, but this is the testimony of all Scripture. It’s what Philippians 2:6 says, “He was in the form, nature of God.” We don’t have time to go to all these places, so you might write them down. Hebrews 1:3, “[Jesus] is the exact representation of God’s being.”

Now, how do we know this? Well, listen to Him. Listen to Jesus. Jesus Himself testified to His divinity. He said that He is one with the Father. John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” All of the “I am” statements all over the book of John testify to His divinity, especially John 8:58, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” Jesus is claiming preexistence, existence before Abraham as the “I AM.” The people knew that He was claiming to be God because they tried to stone Him as soon as He said that.

He claimed that He was one with the Father, and that He has authority to forgive sin and judge men. Mark 2:1-11 is healing of the paralytic. Before Jesus heals him, He says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The crowd responds, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They knew that He was claiming divinity by claiming the prerogative and the right and the authority to forgive sins. This was what was most amazing for C. S. Lewis, and he walked away saying, “For this man to claim that when someone else sins, he is the one who is offended.”

Also, He claimed the right to judge men. In John 5:16 all the way to verse 47, you see a picture of Jesus saying that He is the judge of all men, that all men will stand before Him in judgment one day. He has power over nature, disease, and death. He’s calming storms; He’s telling the wind and the waves to stop. He’s feeding all these people with five loaves and two fish. He’s healing people of diseases, ultimately rising from the dead, based on His own power and in His own authority. All of these realities and the words and works of Jesus point to the fact that He is God. So, listen to Him.

Colossians 2 5–11 Reminds Us that the Lord is the Creator of All Things

Then, listen to others; listen to the testimony of others in Scripture. He is the eternal Creator of all things. This is the beginning of John’s Gospel. Instead of John taking us to a manger, John says, in talking about Jesus in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made. Without him, nothing was made that has been made.”

Paul says in Colossians 1:15, “Christ is the image of the invisible God…By him all things were created…All things were created by him and for him.” Colossians 2:9 says, “In Christ, all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” He is the eternal Creator of all things, and He is the sovereign Sustainer of all things. This is a great verse, Colossians 1:17, “Jesus is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.” He is the sovereign Lord and God.

Jesus is showing us this and saying this; others saying this culminates in one great verse, John 20:28: Thomas. After Jesus has risen from the grave, Thomas comes to Jesus and he sees Him, the resurrected Lord. He says, “My Lord and my God.” This was Jesus’ chance. If He did not believe He was God, if He did not know that He was God, to say to Thomas, “No, you’ve got it wrong. You missed it, Thomas.” But no, this is Jesus receiving praise as Lord and God, and others giving Him praise as Lord and God.

So, here’s the deal: If that is true about what Jesus did and said, and about what others said, then we’ve got a few options. If Jesus said and did these things, and if people around Him said these things, then there’s only a few different options. Number one, we can say, “Jesus is a legend.” Is He a legend? Is all of this just made up? All these Gospel accounts, are they just created, manufactured out of nowhere? We don’t have time to dive in in-depth into this, but the reality is, there is more historical reliability and verifiability for the Gospel accounts than for any other book in the ancient world.

Secular and religious anthropological scholars and archaeological scholars alike all testify to the truthfulness of the Gospels. So, some would say, “Well, no, it’s just all made up. Jesus is a legend.” Well, if He’s not a legend, then is He a liar? Almost all people, even pagan and secular scholars say that Jesus was a humble and meek leader. Now, if Jesus went around saying that He was God, and He was not God, would you call Him humble? If I come on the scene, claiming to be divine, is your first response, “That is one of the most humble guys I’ve ever seen”? No.

So, if He was claiming to be God, and He knew He wasn’t God, then that would make Him a liar. You say, “Well, maybe He was claiming to be God, and He actually thought He was, but He wasn’t. That would make Him a lunatic. That’s the third option. If Jesus said He was God, and He wasn’t lying, then He was just nuts. Now, obviously, very few people in history have called Him mentally ill. Even secular scholars have called Him one of the greatest religious teachers in the history of the world.

Jesus was Divine…

However, I want you to see that that is not possible. It is not possible for Jesus to be one of the greatest religious teachers in the history of the world, because at the core of His teaching was the claim that He was divine, that He was God. Unless you’re willing to embrace that, then He’s either a liar, a lunatic, a legend, or He is Lord. C. S. Lewis put this best in the argument he described, “You can shut Him up for a fool. You can spit on Him and kill Him as a demon. Or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

The testimony of Scripture is clear. Jesus fully identifies with God. The baby in the manger is Immanuel, God with us. I want us to think briefly about this next truth, the truth that this baby in the manger is not only God. The baby in the manger is human, born in the likeness of man, in the nature of a servant. Literally, God in the flesh, God as a human, with a human body. Born physically as a boy, with a body that would get hungry and thirsty, a body that would need sleep.

Do not believe, “Away in a Manger.” “The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” That is not true. What parent has ever said that about their baby? Babies cry a lot, and He was a baby, with a human body and a human mind. Luke 2:52 says, “He would grow in wisdom.” He would learn to eat and talk and read and write. This is His humanity, with human emotions. He would laugh and cry. His heart would become troubled, and He would be overwhelmed with sorrow. He would experience joy and anger.

I want you to see that Jesus not only fully identifies with God. Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus fully identifies with us. Do not minimize His humanity and, in the process, miss the beauty of His identification with you and me. God is not far off from us, aloof, or apart from us. He is indeed with us. He is familiar with our struggles. Hebrews 4 says that Jesus was tempted just as we are, whether it was in the desert with the devil in Matthew 4, or whether it was Peter saying, “No, you can’t go to the cross.” Whether it was sweating blood in Gethsemane at the thought of the cup before Him, or whether it was people yelling to Him on the cross, “If you’re the Son of God, bring yourself down from there.”

Hebrews 2 says, “He has been tempted, and therefore, he is able to help those who are tempted.” He is familiar with our struggles. He is familiar with our sorrow. “A man of sorrows,” Isaiah 53 says. Capable of unparalleled sympathy with us and familiar with our suffering, obviously, most clearly exemplified in the cross.

Colossians 2 5–11 Highlights Christ’s Humanity

I want you to think about the beauty of Christ’s humanity as it relates to your pain and your weaknesses and your struggles and your sorrow and your suffering. I want you to see that this is not just theological high talk about humanity and divinity. This comes right down to where you live.

Do you remember the term called sympathetic resonance? There’s a musical term called sympathetic resonance. This term is used to describe how, if we had two pianos, and you were to hit one note on one piano, like middle C, what would happen is on the other piano, the strings that correspond to middle C would slightly and gently resound. I’m not making this up. It’s in the Oxford Companion to Music. Sympathetic resonance is that when you strike one note on one instrument, there’s an immediate resonance in a similar instrument.

You say, “Well, thanks for the music lesson theory. What’s the point?” Here’s the point. When you walk through grief and sorrow and pain, I want you to know that there is in heaven, at the right hand of the Father, Jesus, a Savior who is able to sympathize with your weaknesses, who knows grief and pain and sorrow, just as you do. When this note is struck in your instrument, it resounds with resonance from heaven. He is not unlike us. He is like us, able to sympathize with our weaknesses, so that when you or I walk through all the different things that we walk through in this life, to know that there is a Savior on high who resonates with all of our struggles and our sorrows and our suffering.

This is wonderful truth. This baby is the sinless Savior: Humbled, obedient to death on a cross. This is revelation by humiliation: The sovereign Creator becomes a slave of creation. The Sovereign Creator of all becomes the slave of all. Verse 7 says, “Being found in appearance as a man…” Now, that sounds like it’s just a repeat of “being made in human likeness.” However, the reality is there’s something else that Philippians 2 is pointing us to here. Yes, He was man, but when it says, “Being found in appearance as a man,” the focus is on how others perceived Him.

Now, follow with me here; how others perceived Him is huge. Other people perceived Him as a man, as one who was just like them. You go to Matthew 13, and you see even in His own hometown, they say, “Where did this man get all these things? He’s just a carpenter’s son.” They were offended at Him. The people were looking at Him like they were no different from Him. See the humility here. The Creator stooped to a point where He was not even recognized by His creation. He whose glory is known throughout the whole earth is not even acknowledged by the people in front of Him, not even His chosen people all throughout the Old Testament for that matter.

Jesus Obeyed God, Mary, and Joseph

Not only was He not known by them, but He was subject to them. He obeyed His parents. That’s weird when you think about it, isn’t it, to obey the parents that you made? Surely there was a temptation at some point to say, “Who are you to tell me what to do? I formed you.” He was fed by people as a baby. As He grew, He worked for people. How would it feel to be employed by someone that you crafted with your own hand and to submit to their authority as your employer? This is the picture.

Think about how this is being worked out. Not even the most religiously devout people in Israel recognized Him. In fact, John 8:48 says, “You are a Samaritan and a demon.” In other words, “You’re a traitor and a devil.” That’s how they responded to Him, all the way until the day when they falsely accused Him and put Him through a mock trial and spit in His face. He didn’t say a word. This is revelation by humiliation. He humbled Himself.

It’s salvation by substitution. He became obedient to death. The perfect Son pays the price for sin. He was obedient to death, when He had no sin, and the payment for sin is death. The reality is He was, in His humanity and divinity, uniquely qualified to be a substitute for our sins. This is why, to use language from 1 Corinthians 1, I didn’t die for you, and you didn’t die for me. We weren’t crucified for each other because we have sin in us. We are not able to be a substitute for each other in this way.

You think about it, in order for a mediator to reconcile two parties together, that mediator must be intimately familiar with both parties. That’s the picture. John Stott said, “The possibility of substitution rests on the identity of the substitute.” What makes Jesus the unique mediator is that He is fully God, fully able to satisfy divine wrath due sin, and He is fully man, fully able to stand in the place where you and I deserve to be, and this is why He came.

Amidst the mystery of the Incarnation, do not miss the purpose of the Incarnation. The reality is Jesus came to die. Now, that sounds kind of normal to our ears because the reality is for all of us, death is inevitable, right? Death is inevitable for any one of us, all of us, each of us because we have sinned, but He had no sin. Death was not inevitable for Him. He was the perfect Son and perfectly obedient.

People will try to magnify many of the things that Jesus did. Even secular scholars say, “Well, He came to teach love and to model service and to show humility. He came to show patience and kindness. He healed people of diseases. He did all of these good things.” Yes, He did, but the reality is, if He did all of those things and stopped there, He would not be Savior. In order for Him to save people from sin, then He had to die. He had to pay the price that you and I were due.

Colossians 2 5–11 is Part of Jesus’ Ministry

This is why, from the very beginning, you see Jesus, even in His ministry, talking about it: He’s going to a cross. There’s coming a day when the Son of Man will suffer and be killed. This is why He came. Oh, think about this. Amidst the images that we have when it comes to Christmas, to realize that those sweet, tender hands in a manger, wriggling around, were fashioned to one day have nails thrust into them. That those soft, pink feet, unable to walk, were made so that one day they would walk up a dusty hill to a cross. That this precious head was formed so that one day soldiers would force a crown of thorns deep into it. That this baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, was created so that one day soldiers would pierce it through with a sword, and blood and water would flow.

The purpose of the Incarnation: He was born to die. Then, Paul says in Philippians 2:7, “Even death on a cross.” It’s as if He is overwhelmed because this is a shameful death. By first century standards, no experience is more loathsomely degrading than this. That God, who created the universe, is suffering the ultimate in human degradation, hanging naked in the sky before a mocking world. This was a shameful death. It was a painful death. This was the most torturous of all possible deaths, beaten and scourged and lashed and then nailed on a piece of wood.

It was an accursed death. You think about this from a Gentile point of view, particularly a Roman point of view, to think of someone crucified, not even the most cruel Roman citizen would have to go through that. Then, you think about it from a Jewish point of view. Galatians 3:13 is quoting Deuteronomy 21, saying that anyone who is hung on a tree is cursed of God. This is Paul saying, “Even death on a cross,” the most shameful, painful, cursed death. This is what He was born for. He was born to die like that, so that, as a result, we might be born again to live.

1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” See the beauty of Incarnation, coupled with the crucifixion. His shame becomes our honor. We stand before God, deserving shame and death, and God clothes us in the righteousness of Jesus, and we are honored in His presence. His pain becomes our joy. By His stripes, by His wounds, His suffering, we are healed, and His curse becomes our blessing. Galatians 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” All of this because He became obedient to death, even death on a cross. This baby in a manger is worthy. He is worthy of adoration as the sinless Savior, born on Christmas to die for sinners.

This baby in a manger is the exalted Lord. This is the heart of the New Testament. It is the heart of the early church. Almost 750 different times in the New Testament, Jesus is confessed as Lord. The heart of the Christmas story is that this baby is indeed the Lord of all. When you think about Philippians 2:9-11 as saying from the perspective of both the Jewish people, as well Gentiles, and you realize for Him to be Lord means that He reigns in the utmost position.

It says God exalted Him. Now, you get into the original language of the New Testament here, and there’s a rare compound verb that’s used. It’s literally, “God super eminently exalted Him.” Like, the picture is an emphasis on Christ being exalted to a place where there is none higher than Him and placed over all things. He is not the greatest among many gods. He is the only God in a class by Himself.

This picture of the Lord all throughout the Old Testament is as Yahweh, the Lord. He is supreme. It’s His name that we saw Him preeminently exalted as all throughout the Old Testament, to see Jesus exalted then as Lord. There is none higher. The utmost position. He is Lord, and He reigns in the utmost position. He holds unending power. His name represents so much more than what we should call Him. His name represents His authority.

Colossians 2 5–11 Explains that Jesus has the Authority to Save Anyone who Trusts in Him

This is where you jump into how Gentile readers, Greek readers, and the Greek language would hear this word Lord: “Kyrios.” This is a word that would be used to describe a master over servants: Lord, authority, to reign, to rule, to command, to demand, whatever that involves. The reality is, Jesus has the authority to save anyone who trusts in Him. He has the power to save you from your sins, and He has the power to rule your life, and the authority to rule every decision you make, every possession you own, and every dream you have. There are some in our day who have tried to make a distinction here and say, “You can have Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord.” It is not true. He, as Savior, is the exalted Lord, and it is foolishness to claim salvation from your sins without submission to His reign.

He holds unending power. He deserves universal praise. Every knee shall bow. Literally, “Bend the knee,” is an expression used in the Old Testament to show great reverence and submission and worship. The picture of a worshiper who cannot stand upright in the presence of the one that is being worshiped, and so, fall on your knees. Every single knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow. That pretty much covers all the knees. Every angel, every holy angel, and every fallen angel. Ladies and gentlemen, the devil and his demons will bow the knee, and every single person on this planet, and every single person in all of history will bend the knee before Christ as Lord. Every tongue and every language will make this confession.

He deserves universal praise, and He fulfills the ultimate purpose. God exalted Jesus to the highest place. So, this is a picture in which we’re seeing the mystery of the Incarnation. We’re seeing the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit in this whole picture. The Father exalting the Son to the highest place, “giving him the name that is above every name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord…” Let’s not put a period on it there; “every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

So, what we are saying here, is if you put this with all that we see in the Scripture, the Old Testament and New Testament, the reality that God the Father sent God the Son to pay the price for sin to redeem us, reconcile us to Himself, and that God the Spirit opens our eyes to see His glory, to see His beauty, to see our need, to confess Him as Lord to the glory of Christ, to the glory of the Father. God is magnified in the humiliation of Christ; God is magnified in the exaltation of Christ, so that, resounding from our lips and our lives are praise, glory, and honor to God forever and ever.

The Decision We Need To Make…

So, the decision we need to make, and the decision that every person in this world is confronted with in the mystery of Christmas: Will you reject Jesus as Lord? Do not call Him a good teacher. That is not possible. Call Him a legend, call Him a liar, call Him a lunatic, but not a good teacher. Reject Him as legend, liar, or lunatic. Reject Him as Lord now, and bow the knee then.

Here’s the key that I want every person to hear. The reality is, one day, every single person is going to bow the knee and call Him Lord. That is not up for a decision. That is determined. Every knee will one day bow and call Him Lord. The question is, will you bow the knee now, or will you bow the knee when it is too late? If you wait until it is too late, after this life is over, I would be remiss not to share with you, based on the authority of God’s Word, that if you wait to bow the knee until then, you will experience eternal condemnation. You will stand alone in your sin before a holy God, and you will receive the just and due payment for your sin in His infinite judgment.

Please see Christmas as more than just a series of commercial gains for consumeristic minds. This is eternal reality at stake with how you respond to the mystery of Christmas. Reject Him as Lord, bow the knee then in eternal condemnation. Oh, I want to urge every person to revere Jesus as Lord. Bow the knee today. Confess His rule and His reign, His good and gracious and merciful rule and reign over your life. Trust Him to forgive you of all your sins, to cover over your sins with His sacrifice on the cross. Say to the one who formed you, who made you, who knows what is best for you, “I trust you. I confess that you are indeed Lord.”

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Bow the knee today and be confident of this: What lies ahead is eternal celebration, where we will delight in the declaration of the praise of Christ to the glory of God the Father in heaven forever. C. S. Lewis summed it up best when he said, “What are we to make of Christ? There is no question of what we can make of Him. It is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must either accept or reject this story.”

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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