On Christmas we see God’s love. The Father shows His love in that He sends His Son into this world; the Son shows His love in that He willingly lays aside the glory that is rightfully His and is born in humility. Saint Paul ponders this mystery in the second chapter of Philippians: “[He] made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The love of the Son points in two directions: Jesus shows love toward God in that He is born, lives, and dies in obedience to the Father’s will for our salvation; Jesus shows love toward you in that He is born, lives, and dies for your great need of deliverance from sin and death. He had all glory, but He laid it aside in love for His Father and for you.
“He came from His blest throne salvation to bestow; but men made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know. But, oh, my friend, my friend indeed, who at my need His life did spend!” Because Jesus came in humility, He was rejected. He was long expected, but when He came, He didn’t fulfill expectations, and so men refused to know Him for who He was. He took the form of a servant, Isaiah’s suffering servant. Isaiah chapter fifty-three runs throughout this hymn. The prophet writes: “He had not form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men.” This Jesus, true God from eternity, is born in the likeness of man, born in humility, despised and rejected by all for you. Your need is salvation from sin and from death. It is a desperate need, for you can do nothing to deliver yourself. And as the hymn declares, at your need “His life did spend!"