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Esteeming Christ More and More

On this Christmas Eve, as we close out our consideration of the book of Leviticus, we arrive at a text that touches on the valuation of persons with respect to vows for lifelong dedication to the service of God. This text reminds us of the total commitment that God requires of his people that we might grow in holiness. It also raises the topic of how we evaluate and are evaluated.

When we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and the valuations that have been assessed of him over the centuries, the overall tendency of the world seems to be an undervaluation. Jesus is valued merely as a great moral teacher. He is valued as one among other prophets. Often he is not valued at all, but dismissed as the figurehead of a religion that has perpetrated many horrors on the world. Worst of all, he is simply dismissed.

Which of these audacious “undervaluations” of Jesus will be most shocking when he comes again on the clouds of glory? I don’t know, but I hope and pray that I myself will be overwhelmed by how much I myself have undervalued the Son of God and Savior of the world when I see him face to face. Indeed, I think we would all do well to consider how we can increase our esteem for Christ more and more. And so, I will use this reflection to consider some ways that even believers can undervalue Christ so that we might increase in our esteem for him by avoiding these unbalanced valuations.

First, we can undervalue his eternal existence. This season, ironically I think, is when we’re most at risk of undervaluing Christ’s eternal existence. We’re inundated with scenes of baby Jesus; we’re focused on very earthly things—inns without rooms, shepherds and their sheep, wise men and their gifts. With this inundation of very earthly things can come a forgetfulness that baby Jesus had no beginning, properly speaking, because he is a divine person. This season should be the time when we are most mindful of Christ’s eternal existence, for Christmas is the time when the eternal breaks into the temporal, the immortal puts on morality. Do not forget that baby Jesus was still fully God in that manger and was still upholding the universe by the word of his power.

Second, we can undervalue Christ’s past humiliation. That is to say, we may be prone to undervalue the descent that the Son of God made from his equality with God when he took on the form of a slave. This sort of undervaluing of Christ’s humiliation can tend toward a view that everything is victory, going from strength to strength, and weakness, at least according to the opinion of the one talking, must be purged.

But in such an undervaluation of Christ, there is not much room for suffering, the foolishness of the cross, or the Lord’s declaration to Paul that his power is made perfect in Paul’s weakness. When Christ’s humiliation is undervalued, we may trample upon the weak and vulnerable, downplay remaining sin, and devalue meekness. But to do that is to undervalue Christ’s own humiliation as some necessary evil rather than as the process by which he was made perfect and became a sympathetic high priest to ignorant, guilty, weak and helpless people like you and like me.

Finally, we can undervalue his present exaltation. Once more, the pendulum can swing, and though Christ’s deity is not denied, his present exaltation might be devalued. Christ becomes the eternally humbled Son of God. His amazement at lack of faith and inability to work miracles in a town becomes normative rather than his declaration to his disciples at the ascension that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

To undervalue Christ’s present exaltation is to undervalue his power to intercede for you before the Father, his power to teach you God’s will for your life, his power to rule you and defend you against his and your enemies. To undervalue Christ’s present exaltation is to undervalue the greatest gift that he has given to his church, namely his Holy Spirit, who is working in and through his body to fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

So, then, let’s aim to appreciate more and more the infinite value of the Lord Jesus. Let’s meditate on the depth and the riches of his infinite person and work so that we might stand in awe of him more and more each day. Let’s place our full faith and trust in him and him alone precisely because we have come to appreciate how infinitely valuable he is for us and for our salvation.

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