|Adoration of the Shepherds; Honthorst, Gerard van, 1622.|
These are excerpts from a Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ preached by John Calvin.
“…in the history which St. Luke here recites, on the one hand we learn how the Son of God emptied Himself of everything for our salvation, nevertheless, on the other hand He did not fail to leave certain and infallible testimony that He was the Redeemer of the world promised from all time. Even though He took our condition, He was able to maintain His heavenly majesty. Both sides are here shown to us. For our Lord Jesus Christ is here in a manger and He is, as it were, rejected by the world. He is in extreme poverty without any honor, without any reputation, as it were, subject to servitude. Yet He is magnified by Angels from Paradise, who do Him homage.”
“Now we see the summary of this history. That is, in the first place, we know that the Son of God, even our Mediator, has united Himself to us in such a way that we must never doubt that we are sharers both of His life and of all His riches. Let us know also that He brought with Himself to us everything that was required for our salvation. For (as I have already said) He was not thus emptied without always retaining His Divine majesty. Although before men He was made of no reputation, yet He always remained not only heir of this world (since He is the Head of the Church), but also always true God. “
“Let us bethink ourselves to profit from this history, so that we may be able to be in tune with the song of the Angels in glorifying God, and to so receive what He here gives us for the rejoicing of our souls. In the first place the Angel says (that is the one who bears the message of the shepherds), “Fear not. I announce to you a great joy.” Then there is this testimony in common from all the army that God sends, “Peace on earth to men.” This, then, is what we have to remember first of all: that we seek our joy in Jesus Christ. For, in fact, even though we had all kinds of delights and luxuries, it would only be a matter of drowning ourselves in our pleasures. Yet even if we are too sleepy, even entirely stupid, our conscience will never have rest. We shall be tormented without end and without ceasing. This worm (of which the Scripture speaks) will eat us away, we shall be condemned by our sins, and we shall feel that with perfect right God is opposed to us and is our enemy. So, there will be a curse upon all the enjoyments of the world, since they will be changed into gnashing of teeth, until men are right with God.”
“But as we cannot praise God until He has declared to us His goodness, let us also learn not to have a faith dead or idle, but may we be incited to bless the Name of God, when we see that He has so displayed the great treasures of His loving-kindness toward us. May our mouth, on the one hand, perform its function, and then may all our life correspond to it. For this is the true song, that each one dedicates himself to the service of God, knowing that, since He has bought us at such a price, it is reasonable enough that all our thoughts and our works be applied to this use, that His Name be blessed.”
“This is also why the holy table is made ready for us, so that we may know that our Lord Jesus, having descended here below and having emptied Himself of everything, was not, however, separated from us when He ascended into His glory in heaven. But rather it is on this condition that we are sharers of His body and His blood. And why so? For we know that His righteousness and His obedience is the satisfaction for our sins and that He appeased the wrath of God by the sacrifice of His body and of His blood which He offered in this humanity which He took from us. “
May His grace abound in us as we meditate on these words today.
Read the whole sermon here.