Made In The Likeness Of MenSeries: Christology
MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN
Sermon By Terry Siverd /August 28, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
In this sermon series, Probing The Passion, we are exploring the subject of Christology, which addresses
the double nature of the earthly life and ministry of Christ Jesus: He was both fully Divine and fully human.
Although the gospel writers are not at all loquacious (verbose) in writing about the life of Jesus prior to the age of 30, when His ministry began (Lk.3:23), Luke concludes a rare account of Jesus' visit to Jerusalem at the age of twelve,
by noting (Lk.2:52) - - Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
In trying to comprehend these dual aspects of Jesus' time on earth, a “balancing act” of sorts is required.
First, as Paul declares in Col.2:9 - - in Him all the fulness of deity (dwelt) in bodily form.
Most of us are comfortable in accepting that as the Son of God Jesus was truly God incarnate.
A second truth that we sometimes find ourselves less certain about is the full humanity of Jesus.
Heb.2:17 asserts, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful
and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Another citation (from Heb.5:8) states quite clearly - -
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. cf. Heb.2:10
These last two passages from Hebrews, along with others, help to inform our view of the humanity of Jesus.
HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE FOR JESUS TO BE BOTH FULLY GOD AND FULLY HUMAN?
In attempting to answer this question we can be thankful for some Scriptural guidance on two fronts.
To begin with, the NATIVITY of Jesus is quite revealing in emphasizing both aspects of Jesus' incarnation.
Mt.1:18 announces: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been
betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Mary's pregnancy is clearly supernatural in that it is not attributed to Joseph, but to God the Father.
Mt.1:20 details how an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not
be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Mt.1:22-25 adds, Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be
fulfilled, saying, 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call Him “Immanuel”,
which translated means, “God with us”. And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
Furthermore, there were angels and a star (Mt.1:20 & 2:2 & 10 with Lk.1:26f & 2:9f)
and a multitude of heavenly host praising God (Lk.2:13-14).
And yes, there were inspired prophetic voices making unusual and sometimes perplexing pronouncements - -
such as Elizabeth (Lk.1:41) … Zacharias (Lk.1:67f) ... Simeon (Lk.2:22f) ...and Anna (Lk.2:36).
On one hand, it is true that Jesus was born in a supernatural way - - born of a virgin.
Yet, as we read elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus arrived as a newborn baby in a very natural way.
Gal.4:4-5 records - - When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under
the Law, that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
As is typical with human gestation, an expectant mommy (Mary) carried Jesus in her womb for some nine-months.
This natural dimension of Jesus' earthly existence is seen even more clearly
as we carefully read between the lines of details surrounding the nativity.
Here in the midst of a supernatural conception and surrounded by numerous miraculous manifestations and revelations,
one also has to concede that this arrival of the very Son of God defies expectations, in that it is undeniably “human”.
False rumors swirled about Mary's pregnancy; Joseph seriously considered nullifying the betrothal; Mary gives birth to her firstborn, the Son of God, in the little town of Bethlehem (Mic.5:2) because there was no room the inn (Lk.2:7),
a manger becomes the first cradle for God in the flesh. Whether this manger (feeding trough) was situated in
a full-scale barn or just a small sheltering place for animals - - Jesus experienced a very humble beginning - -
not at all accompanied by the pomp and circumstance that one might expect with the arrival of God's Son, royal deity.
Right from the outset, the birth of Jesus begins pointing us to the reality that Jesus would taste humanity in its fullest.
THE NATIVITY ACCOUNTS SERVE AS A PRELUDE OF JESUS' DEEP DIVE INTO HUMANITY.
God did not send His Son to earth with the intention of just wading in the calm shallows of life on earth.
Joseph and Mary (Jesus' parents) made the decision that Jesus was to be raised in Nazareth of all places.
It was not a capital city in any way. It was not a town or city that one would normally associate with regality.
In fact a common saying of that time age was: can any good come out of Nazareth (Jn.1:46).
As Jesus grew into adulthood, He soon came to be categorized as a man from Galilee.
When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion,
the crowd proclaimed (Mt.21:11) - - This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.
Galilee was the province in which both Nazareth and Capernaum (Jesus' later home/Mt.4:13 & 9:1) were located.
John's gospel tells of an incident when one of the Pharisees named Nicodemus attempted to urge his colleagues
to be reasonable in their judgments about Jesus. Jn.7:52 records that His fellow Pharisees responded to
Nicodemus saying, You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.
Mt.13:55 tells us that Jesus was the son of a carpenter. Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, was a carpenter.
Mk.6:3 implies that Jesus, too, was a carpenter.
Whether a carpenter was a wood-worker or a stone-mason or an overall handy-man,
the point here again is that Jesus embraced His humanity by becoming a common worker (artisan).
And, in fact, Jesus excelled at His “common” humanity so much so that even the townspeople of Nazareth
were generally skeptical about Jesus being some prophet sent from God - - Read from Mt.13:53-58.
Jesus, the son of God was born in Bethlehem; laid in a manger; raised in Nazareth of Galilee;
the son of a carpenter (Mt.23:55) who Himself became a carpenter (Mk.6:3).
Jesus did not come to earth to be sprinkled with a little humanity, he came to be fully immersed.
And speaking of “immersion” we will address Jesus' baptism sometime soon - - another aspect of His full humanity.
We have all wondered (either quietly or aloud): why did Jesus need to be baptized? cf. Mt.3:13-15
In addition to the nativity, there is a second front from which we derive critical guidance about Jesus' humanity.
For this we turn our attention once again to Philp.2:6-7.
Although (Jesus) existed in the form of God, (He) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but EMPTIED HIMSELF, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
We will return to this text again next Sunday as part of that “re-run” of Heb.5:8 that I promised you.
But for now, I want us to ease into this text by asking, “In what way did Jesus EMPTY Himself?”
This passage demands open-minded thought and conscientious exegesis. It will not work to conclude that
Jesus stepped aside from being God incarnate. But neither does it work to avoid what Philp.2:6-7 clearly declares:
(Jesus) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but (He) emptied Himself...
The word used here, “grasped”, conveys the idea of clinging to tenaciously or an unwillingness to let go of.
In what sense and to what degree did Jesus “let go” of His deity as He yielded to His humanity?
This will be the focus of our Heb.5:8, He Learned Obedience Redux (to bring back or review) next Sunday.