Christmas reveals the greatness of God

By Ed Jordan

Christmas is such an awesome historical event, for it is in the birth of Jesus that we find what appears to be God at His smallest, i.e. taking on human flesh and coming to us as a baby, in order to dwell among us.

But in His smallness as the baby Jesus, we also discover the greatness of God. God’s greatness is often revealed through some of the subtleties of God.

For example, the strength of God is revealed through God coming to us in Jesus, arriving as a vulnerable baby. In the weakness and vulnerability of the baby Jesus, we find Mighty God. Who but Mighty God would take the risk to come to us as a newborn baby? What if the baby died in childbirth? What if the mother did? What if the baby caught pneumonia? What if the parents dropped the newborn, or if Jesus was seriously injured? God revealed His bigness and greatness by making Himself vulnerable when He was born as a little human baby (John1:1, 14).

The greatness of God was shown in the self-sacrifice of God. We humans are very selfish beings. We describe it in many statements conveying that we are “looking out for number one,” namely that each of us believes that we are more important than anyone else.

Jesus revealed the greatness of God when He, who was face to face with God, equal with God, and indeed was God (John 1:1), came in human form. In Philippians 2:6–7 (NASB95) we read about Jesus: “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Jesus was God. It would be proper for everyone to bow their knee to Him, to sacrifice for Him, and for Him to insist that we do so. But He didn’t. In the greatness of God, He didn’t hang on to His equality with God. He didn’t hang on to prestige, or power, or wealth. He laid it aside, and lowered Himself. He who was God humbled Himself, and instead of requiring that everyone cater to Him, He took on human flesh, coming as a little baby born to a peasant family.

We live in a society that clamors after celebrities. Whether the celebrities are bigtime politicians, movie stars, or athletes, we treat them as someone special. And all too often they expect special treatment. Do we expect the Princess in England to have one of her children born in a barn and made to sleep in the horse feeder? It is out of the question. No way! They are to be born in the most elite facilities possible, with the best doctors and staff to care for their every need.

Yet the greatness of God is that when it was time for His One and Only Begotten Son to be born (John 1:18; 3:16), He was not born in a king’s palace. He was not born in Beverly Hills, nor in the White House. He was born in a stable, because there was no room for God among humanity.

While humans demand to be treated better than everyone else, Jesus came as a peasant, born as a baby. The greatness of God is that He knows that what makes one great is humility and service. Greatness is not shown by pomp and circumstance! It is not shown by lording it over others. It is not shown by demanding to be treated as someone more important than others.

Greatness was shown when God, who was infinite Spirit, took on the limitations of a human body, and indeed a baby, who had no status nor standing nor power.

Jesus Himself revealed and explained God through His example, teachings, and life (cf. John 1:18).

Jesus came to reveal that those who really know God learn to give up self-glory, and pride. One day Jesus’ disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest among them and get to sit next to Jesus in heaven (Mark 10:37-41).

Here is Jesus’ answer in Mark 10:42–44 (The Message): Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.”

The greatness of God is revealed at Christmas in the arrival of Jesus, who came to serve and give His life to save ours. May you experience the greatness of God this Christmas season as you encounter the humility of God and His saving power revealed in Jesus, both in His birth and in His life.

Merry Christmas!

Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church at Gwynn, Virginia, and the former pastor of the Gate City Baptist Church in Pocatello. He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.