In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating the birth of Jesus. The Word becoming flesh. God dwelling among us. We praise the One who gave up heaven to live as a man and who eventually sacrificed Himself for our souls.
Do you ever wonder, though, if Jesus was a means to an end? We thank Him for dying on the cross to provide a way for us to enter eternity with God. But was that the only reason He came to earth? Do we only praise Him because He saved us?
For His glory
We often think of God in terms of His relationship with mankind. He came to earth as a baby to save us. He died because He loves us and wants us to accept His forgiveness. We celebrate His birth because He sacrificed heaven to be our Savior.
Accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and understanding His perfect love for us is undeniably important. But when we think of Jesus coming to earth as a baby for the sole purpose of bringing salvation to humans, we treat Jesus as a means to an end. And we forget that God does all things for His glory.
All things. Which means Christ entering the world of humanity and dying on a cross three decades later wasn’t just because He loved us. It wasn’t because He was out of options in the saving-the-world department. It was because redeeming our souls and offering us forgiveness glorified His Name.
God has been rescuing man for His glory and Name since the beginning of time (see Isaiah 48:9-11). Yet somehow, the truth that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus can twist in our minds to mean His death was a means to an end. And we forget it’s not about us.
The manifestation of God’s glory
The birth of Jesus can feel like a means to an end when we think He was born in order to die, and only for the purpose of redeeming our souls. But remember the first proclamation of His birth that night? A host of angels appeared to shepherds, singing glory to God.
Why? Because Jesus was the manifestation of God’s glory. If all creation points to this glory, how much more did Jesus, God in human flesh?! Yes, Jesus came to save the world from sin and to defeat death, but what resulted from this salvation? The glorification of God’s Name.
We know this because Jesus made it clear His purpose was to bring His Father glory. When talking about His approaching death, He asked that God the Father’s Name would be glorified through His crucifixion. And so even through His death, He blotted out our transgressions for His own sake.
It’s strange to think about this side of Jesus’ purpose on earth. We get caught up in being thankful we have a free ticket to heaven. We feel sorrow that our sin nailed Jesus to the cross. But we don’t often think about the manifestation of God’s glory. We don’t often think that Jesus came to earth to accomplish more than simply checking off His list “Dying for the sins of the world.”
Because of this mindset, it’s easy to treat Jesus simply as our way out of hell. We genuinely praise Him for what He did on the cross, but we don’t realize how we have transitioned from “Glory to God in the highest!” to “Thanks for paying for my way.”
Why do you celebrate?
So how do you think about Jesus? As a means to an end? As the manifestation of God’s glory? Why do you celebrate His birth every December 25? Because His birth reminds you of His death? Because God’s glory was revealed that night?
However you celebrate and whatever goes through your mind when you think of Jesus lying in a trough as a baby, remember to give God glory. Praise Him for what He has done for us, absolutely. But don’t forget first and foremost to praise Him because He deserves it, because He is God, because His Name will be glorified in all things.
Yes, He loves you perfectly and did indeed die because of that love. But He also died to glorify His Name and bring His Father the praise He deserves. Jesus wasn’t a means to an end. He was and is the light, the manifestation, the glory itself. That’s why we celebrate Him.