The Man Christ JesusSeries: Christology
THE MAN CHRIST JESUS
Sermon By Terry Siverd /September 04, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
We've all scratched our heads when pondering Jesus' incarnation as to how Christ was both fully Divine & fully human. In this sermon series, Probing The Passion, we're exploring Christology: the dual aspects of the earthly ministry of Jesus.
I have mentioned previously that there is a dearth of writings about the human-side of Jesus.
Comparatively speaking, there's been considerably more written about the deity of Christ than of His humanity.
Although I have an extensive library I have very little available in researching this somewhat perplexing subject.
One exception to this is a book by Bruce Ware, The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections On The Humanity of Christ.
(cf. Crossway publications, 2013).
I've borrowed from Ware for the title of today's sermon and for some of the thoughts presented in his helpful book.
In the preface of his book Ware tells of a time during his boyhood years when his parents and preacher had
been encouraging the youth of the church to be more diligent in reading the Bible. Young Bruce began in
earnest by reading the gospels and then continuing to read the epistles. When he worked his way to
Peter's first epistle (1Pet.2:21-23), he became bothered by what he was reading. There the text states:
for you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you leaving you and example to follow in
His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile
in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.
The thing that agitated or confused him was not the words about the suffering endured by Jesus, but rather, about how Jesus' followers should imitate Christ - - especially the charge to follow in the steps of One “who did no sin”.
I am of the opinion that this concept has surely proven to be challenging to many, if not all, of us.
How in the world can we be expected to imitate Jesus (who knew no sin) when we are all sinners?
It is at this intersection that I believe this series on the humanity of Jesus takes on added importance.
Last week we asked the question:
HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE FOR JESUS TO BE BOTH FULLY GOD AND FULLY HUMAN?
This is a subject that requires repetition and rumination and we can be thankful for Scriptural guidance on two fronts. The NATIVITY of Jesus not only reveals the deity of Jesus but it also begins to enlighten us as to Jesus' humanity.
(A technical glitch last Sunday resulted in my sermon not being recorded. In response to several requests we sat down in my study this past Wednesday and re-recorded it. It is now accessible via our church website and Facebook post).
In that sermon, Made In The Likeness Of Men, we looked briefly at Philp.2:6-7. Let's re-read that passage adding vs.8 - -
Although (Jesus) existed in the form of God, (He) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but (HE) EMPTIED HIMSELF, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And
being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
This expression from Philp.2:7, He emptied Himself, has generated abundant controversy among commentators.
I have a list of 60+ different translations that attempt to capture the true meaning of this first phrase in Philp.2:7.
He emptied Himself is by far and away the most common rendition.
KJV / He made Himself of no reputation … EXB / He gave up His place with God and made Himself nothing …
NLT / He gave up His divine privileges … Among this lengthy list, two renditions miss the mark entirely:
AMPC / (He) stripped Himself (of all privileges and rightful dignity), so as to assume the guise of a servant …
and TLB / (He) laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave...
The words “guise” and “disguise” connote the idea of “pretense”.
Jesus did not feign or fake His humanity. There was no pretending involved in Jesus' incarnation.
God did not send His Son to earth with the intention of just wading in the calm shallows of life on earth.
Jesus did not come to earth to be sprinkled with a little humanity, he came to be fully immersed.
Jesus did not condescend to become a wee, little man. We don't mean wee, little in regards to His
physical stature (Zaccheus/Lk.19:1f), but regarding any hint of a lack of fullness concerning His humanity.
Jesus was not just a little bit of a man, He was human in the fullest sense!
If we conclude otherwise, we will be wrestling with that same “disturbance” faced by the young Bruce Ware.
How could we be expected to follow in His steps if He was not truly like us in His humanity?
The apostle Paul affirms that Jesus did not grasp His equality with God. In other words, Jesus did not cling tenaciously
to the God-side of His incarnation. Stated in a slightly different way, we do not see Jesus as God in the flesh
who was unwilling to let go of His God-side. The text goes on to say that JESUS EMPTIED HIMSELF.
Without claiming that Jesus was no longer GOD incarnate, we must ask,
In what sense and to what degree did Jesus “let go” of His deity as He yielded to His humanity?
This morning I want to revisit Heb.5:8 - -
Although He was a Son, (Jesus) learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Throughout His ministry Jesus remained ONE with the Father. He persisted in saying to others:
If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father (Jn.14:9); The Father is in Me, and I in the Father (Jn.10:38);
and The works I do in My Father's name, these bear witness of Me (Jn.10:25) ...
To be sure, it is a difficult concept to comprehend: Jesus never divorced Himself from being one with the Father,
and yet Paul clearly declared that Jesus did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself.
This emptying unfolded in the form of Jesus becoming a human bond-servant on behalf of the Father.
This took place in order for Jesus to truly fulfill the will of His Father. In Jn.6:38 we read Jesus mission statement:
I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent.
Jesus never equivocated about doing the will of The Father.
However, the doing of the Father's will while on earth required what we studied previously from Heb.2:17 - -
(Jesus) 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.
Heb.5:8 states that Jesus learned obedience.
This “learning obedience through suffering” was the essence of Jesus “emptying Himself”.
Jesus had always been obedient, but in His human experience He learned obedience in ways
He had never previously encountered - - through opposition, affliction and even sheer agony.
My long-time friend and fellow preacher Ed Stevens posted a comment to one of my recent sermons:
“In the midst of the most terrifying sufferings imaginable, Jesus kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
The thing about Jesus' incarnate obedience was that His acts of obedience often begat added confrontations
from his opponents. In turn, these added confrontations eventually resulted in His death on the cross.
Bruce Ware writes (p.63): “Within this context of suffering, Jesus knew that his obedience to the Father
and the Father's will would mean only continued and intensified suffering. Yet, despite the suffering he
knew he would receive, he resisted the temptation to avoid suffering and to turn away from the Father's
will and instead resolutely obeyed the Father every step of the way, no matter how hard things were.
Indeed, Jesus learned to obey the Father's every directive and command without fail or compromise,
even at great cost, even though he knew his obedience would bring to him only intensified pain,
affliction, rejection, suffering, and ultimately an agonizing death from those who opposed him.”
This is a vital aspect of OUR obedience as well and it will reveal itself in our lives when we imitate Jesus.