“Behold, A Savior is Born”

The Servant LOVE of Jesus

Luke 2:1-7

We are continuing our Advent series called Behold: A Savior Is Born. Last week, we talked about how there is joy in anticipation. We saw from Mary’s perspective, the shepherd’s perspective, and many others how much joy there is in trusting that God will show up. We learned that we still experience joy in the waiting in our lives as well. This morning, we are going to talk about the servant love of Jesus. We are going to look at the way He came into the world, the way He lived, and finally the way He died. He was a humble servant through it all.

Who in this room likes surprises? Raise your hand if you enjoy it when unexpected things happen. 

Some people love to receive gifts at Christmas that are completely unexpected. Others love to share an idea of what they hope for. One thing that nearly everyone would love to receive unexpectedly is winning the lottery.

Imagine someone going about their daily routine, working hard to make ends meet, and suddenly, they purchase a lottery ticket on a whim. They don’t think much about it, as the odds of winning are incredibly slim. However, against all expectations, their ticket turns out to be the jackpot winner, and they become an overnight millionaire. Winning the lottery is an unexpected and life-changing event that can bring immense joy and also new challenges. It’s an excellent illustration of how life can throw surprises at us when we least anticipate them, turning our circumstances upside down and requiring us to adapt to a dramatically altered reality.

We heard today in the Scripture reading from the Gospel of Luke, where a single event dramatically altered reality, as Jesus’ birth takes place.

Let’s begin with the woman God chose to bring Jesus into the world. He did not choose a queen. He did not choose the daughter of a rich man. He chose a young girl from a small town. He did not choose flashy, he chose humble. Becoming pregnant with the Savior of the world was a very unexpected thing to happen to Mary. It was especially surprising, being that she was a virgin who was committed to marrying a man named Joseph.

The Unexpected Arrival

Picking up where this passage starts, Joseph, Mary, and her unborn baby must leave home and travel to the big city for the census count. This was mandatory for the entire Roman world. 

Today, we can simply mail our census in or fill it out online, but in this time in history you had to show your face in person. We are discussing events from 2000 years ago. There were no ultrasounds, there were no due dates. Even with all of today’s technology and advancements in health care, you never really know when a baby is coming. We can assume that Mary did not plan to have her baby anywhere other than her home, and certainly not in a dusty stable. But God had a different plan.

Imagine being far from home, traveling mostly on foot, being extremely pregnant, and not having a place to stay for the night. The city was filled with all the travelers that had come to report for the census and there was literally no room to stay, even at this inn. There was no vacancy for the young family to occupy. They were out of options.

So, Joseph and Mary were given a manger, which is essentially a sweeter word for barn. Mary gives birth to Jesus and as scripture says, (Luke 2:7)

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Jesus came into the world in a lowly and humble way. This was all intentional. Jesus was not born to wealthy parents in a palace like the many kings before Him. The most unexpected arrival of the Savior of the world. God planned this. God connects with humanity in a very vulnerable way. By being born the way He was, where He was, Jesus immediately identifies with the marginalized and the ordinary of the world. It is Christmas when we are reminded that God’s love is not reserved for the elite but is accessible to all people. Jesus arrived in an unexpected way which set the precedent for his entire life.

Next, let’s look at who Jesus became and who He was during his time on Earth. The humble nature that He came into the world with, is a defining piece of who He is throughout his life. Paul writes about this to the early church in Philippi, Philippians 2:5-11,

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul gives his listeners an expectation that we ought to live in relationship with one another and Jesus is the example which we are to follow. We are to share his mindset of humility and service.

Imagine a world-renowned artist, known for creating magnificent masterpieces that hung on the walls of prestigious museums and galleries worldwide. His works were celebrated for their grandeur and complexity, capturing the attention and admiration of all who viewed them. Yet, one day, this artist decided to embark on a different kind of project. 

Instead of creating another majestic painting that would demand attention, he chose to create a humble and unassuming piece of art. He wanted to challenge himself to portray the depth of human emotion and experience through simplicity. As he worked on this project, the artist made a surprising decision. He decided to leave his comfortable studio behind and immerse himself in the life of the common people. He lived in their neighborhoods, shared their daily struggles, and embraced their joys and sorrows. He wanted to fully understand the essence of their humanity, to see the world through their eyes. After months of living among them, the artist returned to his studio with a newfound perspective. He carefully put his experiences onto canvas, creating a piece of art that was unlike anything he had ever done before. It was a simple, unadorned depiction of everyday life—a mother’s love, a child’s laughter, a worker’s toil, and a friend’s embrace. 

When the artist unveiled this unexpected creation, the world was astounded. Critics and admirers alike were moved by the depth of emotion and the resonance of the piece. It touched their hearts in a way that none of his grand masterpieces had ever done. The artist explained, “In this simple painting, I aimed to capture the very essence of our shared humanity—the beauty of everyday life, the emotions that connect us all, and the significance of the ordinary moments we often overlook.”

In a profound way, the artist’s journey mirrors that of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11. Just as the artist chose to step into the lives of everyday people to understand their humanity, Jesus, the Creator of all things, chose to step into our world through the incarnation as a humble human being. He left the splendor of heaven to fully experience our joys, struggles, and sorrows.

The Humanity of Jesus

Through His humanity, Jesus created a masterpiece of redemption. The passage begins with the call for us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. 

What mind is that? 

It’s the mind of humility, of selflessness, and of service. It’s the mind that led Jesus to willingly set aside His divine glory and take on the form of a human being.

We talked earlier about Jesus, the Creator of the universe, stepping down from heaven and entering our world as a vulnerable baby. He did not choose a regal entrance, born in the splendor of a palace, but rather, His first cries filled the air in the humblest of settings—a stable. He experienced the limitations and fragility of humanity from the moment He was born until His death. 

He felt the warmth of a mother’s love and the comfort of a father’s protection. He experienced hunger, thirst, fatigue, and the full spectrum of human emotions. 

He was not just partly human; he was completely human and pain was not omitted from his experience on Earth.

This is where the humanity of Jesus demonstrates His sacrificial love. It was through His humanity that He accomplished the most profound act of love and redemption by dying on the cross on our behalf. By taking on our human nature, Jesus bridged the gap between humanity and divinity, reconciling us to God and bringing us nearer to Him. Jesus is often referred to as a humble servant for His leadership and the way He loved people. It is constant with his birth. He met people where they were and lived among them. As we look at Philippians 2:5-11, we encounter the journey of Jesus’ life. 


“humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The humanity of Jesus is not just a historical fact, but a living reality that continues to shape our faith and our relationship with God. It means that we have a Savior who intimately understands our struggles and temptations. He knows what it’s like to face adversity, rejection, and suffering. Even though He never sinned and lived a perfect life, He was not without temptation and trials. Jesus became human to relate to us, His people, with an intimacy that could not be accomplished otherwise. This means that we can approach Him with confidence, knowing that we have a compassionate and empathetic Savior who sympathizes with our weaknesses. In our moments of doubt, pain, or despair, we can turn to Him, knowing that He not only hears our prayers but understands the depths of our hearts.

As we navigate the complexities of our own human existence, may we find peace in the fact that we are not alone. We have a Savior who walked this path before us, and He continues to walk it with us every day. When we share in His humble nature, we too can become a representative of God by the way we love and serve those around us.

As we reflect on the humanity of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11, let’s remember that our Savior, like the humble artist, stepped into our world to fully understand and embrace our humanity. He did so out of profound love, creating a masterpiece of redemption that touches our hearts in the most unexpected and beautiful ways.

Let’s look at these passages once more. I have printed them out for you. Think about the similarities that we see between these two verses. 

Luke told about the unexpected arrival of Jesus to His humble parents in a manger. Paul writes about what it truly meant for God to take on human flesh. Now we are going to look at the end of Jesus’ life and notice some parallels between the cross and the manger.

 The Ultimate Sacrifice

Have you ever thought about this before: That there are deep connections between Jesus’ birth and the way that he died? The beginning of His story is just as important as the end, and the end just as important as the in-between. Let’s look at some of the ways the birth and death of Jesus intersect.

First is that he was “rejected of men.” (Luke 2:7, Mark 15:15) He was cast outside before His birth. That led Him to be born in the manger. At the cross, He was rejected and hung between criminals outside the city. Another key detail is that Mary was present at both. 

She was a bookend person to Jesus’ life. If you keep looking, there are so many overlaps, 

myrrh was present for use upon Him (Matthew 2:11; John 19:39). 

At both, there was darkness (Matthew 2:10,14; Matthew 27:45). 

At both, His body was wrapped in clothing (Luke 2:7,12; Mark 15:46). 

At both, a Herod becomes involved (Matthew 2:7; Luke 23:7). 

At both, there was worship-though the first was genuine and the second was mocking (Matthew 2:11 and Luke 2:13-14; Mark 15:19). 

At both, wise men recognized His deity (Matthew 2:1; Mark 15:39 and Luke 23:41). 

At both, Jew and Gentile were there. 

At both, He was hailed as King-though one was in earnest and the other in jest (Matthew 2:2; Mark 15:26,32). 

At both, an “honorable” man named Joseph was present (Matthew 1:19 +Luke 2:16; Mark 15:43). 

At both we find the chief priests and scribes involved (Matthew 2:4-6; Matthew 27:1).

Jesus’ death and His birth were full of humility and vulnerability. His birth was surrounded by animals in a lowly barn, surrounded by shepherds. At His death, we witness Jesus hanging on a cross, crucified and punished alongside common criminals. Neither one of these experiences is “mighty’’ or “grand.” This parallel teaches us that Jesus’ mission was not one of earthly glory and power, but of sacrificial love and redemption. His birth and death bookend a life characterized by humility and selflessness. 

We can look at the manger in Bethlehem and see that it was the ultimate foreshadowing of Jesus’ death. Jesus’ birth signaled the very start of His journey toward selflessness and sacrifice for humanity’s sake. He was born to die. He came to earth to offer Himself as the perfect Lamb of God who took away the sins of all.

On the cross, Jesus fulfilled this purpose with unparalleled love and devotion. He endured excruciating physical and spiritual pain, willingly surrendering His life to atone for our sins. Just as the birth of Jesus was a gift to the world, His death was the ultimate gift of redemption.

Jesus was a servant, born in the humblest of ways. He was the King of Kings, and He chose to come down to earth to live the perfect life, so that we, His people, could be close to the Father. 

Without His death and resurrection, we would still be dead in our sin and have no hope of an eternity with God. I recently read a beautiful quote that went like this…

“Christ was content with a stable when he was born so that we could have a mansion when we die.” Unknown

In closing, when we reflect on the birth and death of Jesus, we see the amazing ways that His life was completely divine and how it is all connected. From the unexpected arrival in the humble manger to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, Jesus’ journey on Earth illustrates His life as one of a humble servant.

The birth of Jesus in a lowly stable was a deliberate act of humility, setting the tone for His entire mission. He identified with the marginalized and the ordinary, teaching us that God’s love is accessible to all, regardless of our station in life.

Jesus’ humanity, as articulated in Philippians 2:5-11, shows His humility and selflessness. He willingly set aside His divine glory to take on the form of a servant, experiencing our joys, struggles, and sorrows firsthand. His complete understanding of our brokenness allows us to approach Him with confidence, knowing that He not only hears our prayers, but empathizes with our weaknesses. The parallels between Jesus’ birth and death are striking. Moreover, both the birth and death of Jesus were marked by humility and vulnerability. His birth in a manger and His crucifixion on a cross were profound demonstrations of God’s intentional choice to connect with humanity in our most vulnerable state. His mission was not about earthly grandeur, but about sacrificial love and redemption.

As we contemplate these parallels, may we be reminded of the depth of God’s love and His divine plan. 

Jesus’ birth and death were not isolated events but integral parts of the same redemption story. Let us live in the awareness of the profound connection between the manger and the cross, embracing the humility, vulnerability, and sacrificial love of our Savior. Just as the world was forever changed by the birth of Jesus, His death on the cross continues to transform lives and offers us the hope of eternal salvation.

In our relationships with others, this week, may we  have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. How can we humble ourselves this week and share the love of Christ with others? Consider where you can set aside your pride and/or position and “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Tis the season.

Let’s pray