I have tried. I cannot think of a greater sacrifice than the Incarnation of the Son. If you want to argue that the death of Christ is greater, I will not fight back. I think that is a moot point since the death of Christ is a part of the Incarnation.
Jesus prayed that he could return to the glory he had with the Father before the world began (John 17.5). Jesus gave up glory to come to the earth. I do not know what that feels like. And I do not think you can conceive of a greater sacrifice.
But think even more about how Jesus humbled himself. 1 Cor 15.47 says “the first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” It would have made perfect sense for Jesus to come to the earth as an adult, like the first Adam, and then just succeed where Adam failed. Instead, he came from heaven to be born a baby! He went beyond just humbling himself to become a man.
Jesus, who created the world, obeyed His Father by taking on an umbilical cord, becoming dependent upon his mother’s milk, learning how to read and write, honoring Mary and Joseph, actually growing in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and men. May we never be people who ever complain about what we think we deserve.
I know that “gospel-centered” is a fad for many. I can’t prove it. I just know it. But I also know that what I mean by “gospel-centered” is what Paul means by “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Rom 1.15). As he writes to Christians, he tells Christians that he is eager to preach not morals, not keys for the abundant Christian life, not tips for parenting, not principles for finances, not the deeper things of God, but THE GOSPEL.
I am also eager to preach the gospel to unbelievers. I find it exhilarating to share the good news about Christ with a non-Christian who is willing to listen (even if it’s just thirty seconds). But even “sharing the faith” with unbelievers is not as exhilarating as “sharing the faith” with believers (Philemon 6).
I do not remember where I read a quote about downplaying the gospel recently, but it rang so true. Someone recently told me: “I know the gospel is important, but…” The quote I had read before was something to the effect of: “Don’t say ‘yes, but…’ to the gospel. To youth ministry, to feeding the poor, to anything else, it might be fine, but not the gospel.”
Amen. If you don’t love the gospel, just admit it. Then go back and read about our sinfulness. The gospel is the power of God toward salvation for believers (Rom 1.16).