Call to Worship December 13 2020

“(Luke 1:26-33) We should notice, in the first place — the lowly and unassuming manner in which the Savior of mankind came among us.The angel who announced His coming, was sent to an obscure town of Galilee, named Nazareth. The woman who was honored to be our Lord’s mother, was evidently in a humble position of life. Both in her station and her dwelling-place, there was an utter absence of what the world calls ‘greatness.’

We need not hesitate to conclude, that there was a wise providence in all this arrangement. The Almighty counsel, which orders all things in Heaven and earth — could just as easily have appointed Jerusalem to be the place of Mary’s residence, as Nazareth — or could as easily have chosen the daughter of some rich scribe to be our Lord’s mother, as a poor woman. But it seemed good that it should not be so. The first coming of Messiah, was to be a coming in poverty and humiliation. That humiliation was to begin even from the time of His conception and birth.” (J.C. Ryle, Luke: Expository Thoughts on the Gospel, vol. 1, [Carlisle, PA., Banner of Truth, 2012], pg. 16-17.)

It seems safe to say that the Lord Jesus laid aside some of His rights, as the Son of God, in coming to the earth. After all, He took on human flesh. He dwelt among sinful humanity. He lived in meager conditions. He walked in a defiled world and ultimately died a sinner’s death. In other words He humiliated Himself and willingly set aside some of His rights to redeem sinners. If any being ever had a right to say “no” to His work and station in life, it was the Lord Jesus. Yet, He did not say “no,” he was willing to lay aside some of His rights. He spoke of His essence (John 10:22-42), of His power (John 2:13-22), of the Father’s power (Matt. 10:24-30), of the will of the Father (John 6:40, 8:28, Gal. 1:3-5), of His work of reconciliation between God and man (Luke 15:11-32, 19:10, Matt. 10:30-39), and of the sin and darkness of mankind (Matthew 6:22-23). He spoke regarding many concerns of the world, but He did not simply speak only of all His rights.

At times Jesus spoke of His rights in the context of His power to save His sheep and destroy the darkness of sin (John 10:1-18). He never spoke of His rights to demean or turn away from the purposes of the Father. The Lord Jesus cared abundantly about the will of the Father, the redemption of His people and the forgiveness of His people’s sin. Thankfully Christ did not seek to speak only for His rights. Instead, He lived and died according to the will of the Father and for people who rebelled against their creator!

Do we reflect the grace shown to us through Christ to those around us? May we live and act like a people who recognize the totality of the grace of God. We have been changed by God’s grace, redeemed and reconciled by God’s grace. Also, we have been forgiven by God’s grace through the shed blood of Christ. Hopefully we will grow in showing one another the kind of grace and forgiveness that has been shown to us. We need this in our homes, at our jobs, and in our churches. The devil wants nothing more than for present day circumstances to focus all of us on our rights. He wants us to stop thinking and living as those who have been saved by grace. He wants us to stop thinking about forgiveness, so we will think even less of forgiving others. We may not all agree on every present day circumstance, but we are commanded to love our neighbor in Christ.

Why was Jesus born in such a lowly estate (God took on flesh), with such lowly means (born among animals)? Partially, this must cause us to remember that He did not come thinking only of His rights. If He had, He would have come only as a conquering King. So redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation would not have been a part of the equation. He would not have sought to bring two distant and different parties, such as God and man, together. He would have wielded the sword alone and brought immediate judgment on the race of Adam. We must be thankful that Christ understood His rights as a part of His perfect essence in deity, which were worked out in His sinless humanity. What restraint, mercy, and grace was shown to sinners even in the example of Jesus’ lowly birth on this earth. May we seek to appropriately and biblically show that grace to others. Soli Deo Gloria!