Each day during this year's Advent season, I will be sharing a devotional here to help aid our hearts in preparing for the coming of Christ. These come from a book entitled "Come, Let Us Adore Him" by Paul Tripp. I pray that these thoughts will aid your heart in worship.
The coming of the sovereign Savior means the end of self-rule and a welcome to submit to the plans and purposes of One greater.
It is so amazing, so beyond the scope of how we tend to think about why things happen in the way that they happen, and so different from the way that we access our lives, that it is hard for us to grasp its full scope and practical meaning. Generation after generation, theologians have worked to make sense of it. The Bible declares that God is in absolute, unchallenged control of everything in the universe that he created.
The Bible declares that God controls the forces of nature.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses. (Ps. 33:7)
Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are you not he, O Lord our God? (Jer. 14:22)
The Bible declares that God rules human governments.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. (Ps. 67:4)
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he wills. (Prov. 21:1)
The Bible says that God controls the details of our individual lives.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (Acts 17:26)
The Bible declares there is nothing that is not under God’s control.
For his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the hosts of heaven
and among the inhabitants of earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?” (Dan. 4:34–35)
Here is the amazing truth of the Christmas story: that baby in the manger is the sovereign Savior come to earth. The One who rules everything that ever was now humbly and willingly places himself under human rule. The One who controls everything exposes himself to the forces of nature and the governments of the people he established and rules. The King of kings and Lord of lords comes to live a life without political power or a palace in which to reign. Human rulers will mock, reject, persecute, and ultimately kill him. Nothing in the way he lived his life would make you think that he was the King of kings. He lived humbly and in poverty. He not only didn’t establish earthly rule—he didn’t even have a house that was his own.
The Christmas story confronts us with this question: “Why would the Lord of lords debase himself in this way?” Answering this question pushes us to the heart of what this story is about. Jesus didn’t come with royal pomp, demanding to be served. His plan was not for political power or palace living, because he was on a single, focused mission, and no amount of poverty, homelessness, or rejection would deter him from his mission. What was this mission? What I’m about to say will probably hurt your feelings. The sovereign Savior came to earth because sin causes all of us to live as self-appointed self-sovereigns. We all put ourselves in the center of our world. We all are way too focused on what we want, what we feel, and what we think we need. We all want control over things that we will never control. We all get angry when someone or something gets in the way of our self-designed sovereign plans. We all want to write our own rules, and when we break God’s rules, we want to be able to do it without negative consequences. We go through days without consciously thinking about God’s will or his glory. We allow our hearts to be captured by the idol of idols: self. When you buy into your own sovereignty, you not only compromise your spirituality, but you also lose a piece of your humanity.
We were made to live under God’s rule. To recognize and submit to God’s sovereignty isn’t a loss of freedom; it is the only pathway to true human freedom. To try to establish your own sovereignty is like trying to drive a boat down a highway: it’s not what you were designed to do, and it will not result in the life that you were created to live. Jesus willingly humbled himself and lived in poverty, rather than sovereignty, so that through his life and death he would rescue self-sovereigns from themselves. He placed himself under broken and unjust human rule in order to liberate us from self-rule and transform us into people who celebrate and willingly submit to his rule.
God exercised his sovereignty over all things in order to set up the right time and right place for the sovereign Son to be born as a man, live perfectly, die acceptably, and rise victoriously. By sovereign power he assured that everything would happen according to the plan formed before the earth was created. By his sovereign will he ordained that this story of stories would be written down and preserved for us. And by sovereign grace he calls us to himself, opens our eyes to his glory and grace, convicts us of our sin, forgives us, welcomes us into his family, transforms us by his grace, and expends his power to keep us for all eternity. The sovereign Son became a submitting man so self-sovereign sinners would be rescued from themselves and become those who love and submit to his rule. Remember today that the Christmas story is a sovereignty story, and because it is, you and I have hope of real life and true freedom!
For further study: Philippians 2:1–11