In the middle of his theological discourse on the revelation of Christ through His church, the Apostle Paul pauses to insert an amazing account:
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:7-10, KJV).
For the sake of clarity, let me refer you to the same passage in a different translation:
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.” Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth? He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.” (New English Translation)
This is the time of year when many people remember the occasion when the King of Kings made His appearance on the earth. Of course we do not know the actual date of His birth, and neither does that really matter. What does matter is that He came.
“Jesus, by His Incarnation, taught us one of the greatest lessons on leadership we could ever learn. We are not given power so we can exalt ourselves; those who are granted power receive it so they can use it to better the lives of others.”
The Scriptures paint for us a picture of our King that defies all human logic. All too often, when we think of His birth in a lowly manger, we shake our heads sadly and think, “That’s no way for a king to come.” In reality, though, He did not come the wrong way – not at all. Instead, He came the way a human king should come, exposing the vanity of the worship and adulation earthly rulers tend to demand for themselves. It was not by accident that He reminded His disciples that anyone who wishes to be great must first become the least:
“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 10:42-45).
Jesus, by His Incarnation, taught us one of the greatest lessons on leadership we could ever learn. We are not given power so we can exalt ourselves; those who are granted power receive it so they can use it to better the lives of others. The greatest among us are those who, like Jesus Christ, have given their lives to serving those around them. He came down to our level, fought our battles, and conquered our enemies – death, fear and the devil. As the Scripture says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). And when He ascended back to Heaven, the Bible tells us He gave gifts to men – and what wonderful gifts they were! The Holy Ghost; His Word; the church; the ministry; and each other, grafted into His body to serve Him by serving each other!
We truly have cause to celebrate His birth, because had He not first descended (in the Incarnation), He could not have ascended as a victorious conqueror, celebrating His conquest by bestowing gifts on men. So if you exchange gifts with your loved ones, remember that by doing so you are commemorating the day God bestowed His greatest gift on a lost world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).