Introduction: In Shakespere’s history of Henry the V, the king takes the cloak of a commoner and walks amongst his men. It is 3.00 am and the sound of hammers hitting against metal ring out in the night. It is a somber sound of what is to come and the men know it. Soon they will be in battle against the French, who outnumber them by a large number. In the course of his walk, and incognito, he stops and chats with some of the men. Shortly, their conversation grows terse. One of the men tells the king that if they weren’t getting ready to battle, he would box his ears. Of course, he doesn’t know he’s the king. The king tells this man to give him something that he would recognize later on. He tells the man that he’ll wear it “on his bonnet”. So then, when he sees him again, and recognizes his property on this man, he can do just that – box his ears. As a reader, you know this guy would never threaten to beat up the king. But this guy has no idea who he is talking to… he has no idea who is in his presence.
1 Corinthians 2.8 says: 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The religious leaders who killed Jesus failed to see who was right there in their midst. They had all of the information, but their minds failed to process that information.
Which brings me to the task this morning:
- Identifying the Messiah.
- And 2ndly, properly presenting him to the world.
t.s.: this morning, I want to help us fix our eyes upon Jesus… and see him for who He really is. And then, present Him to the world. The text I’ve chosen to do this with is Philippians 2. Look with me at Philippians chapter 2.
In Philippians 2.5-8 we learn some important doctrinal concepts about who Jesus is. Rd Phil 2.5-6a;
1st we see that Paul is teaching us that…
I. Jesus is God (5-6)
exp.: Can I preface my remarks with the statement that it is most difficult to describe a spiritual existence with physical terms; Paul writes that he is ‘God in form’; μορφή; you’re most familiar with the word metamorphosis meta: change; Μορφή: form
ill.: Mark 9.2: μεταμορφόω
Here, Paul is teaching us that Jesus is God. Before we know him any other way – He is God. His nature, his form, his essence, his position is God. Let’s continue; Rd 6.b; 2ndly, Paul says that Jesus is equal to God, that is: ‘God in equality’; if a=b and b=c, then a=c; if the Father = God and the Son = the Father, then the Son = God. John brings this out multiple times in his Gospel; in Jn 1.1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Two uniquely individual parts or persons in the same Godhead. In Jn 5.18 this very clear concept was a very real problem for the religious leaders: 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
app.: Paul’s teaching is clear: Jesus isn’t partly God; he isn’t from God or of God; Jesus is God – 100%
t.s.: notice 2ndly that Paul teaches us that…
II. God became a Man (He condescended) (6-7)
exp.: rd v 6b-7a; God becoming man is really an incredible action; and hard to fathom; there are certain traits Paul uses to describe this action; the one trait he magnifies in this passage is Humility (v3, 8): rd 6b; though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped… look at this humility displayed:
- Though he was equal with God, he let that go; he condescended, he stooped down, rd v 7a;
- Though he was fully God, he Poured himself out; κενόω; Emptied himself; This word means to pour out until empty – to empty out something, like pouring our everything within a pitcher. Jesus was fully God, but made a choice to empty himself of those divine qualities, characteristics and become a man. But there is more…rd 7a-b;
- Though he was master and King, he became a slave; δοῦλος; BTW: same word here, μορφή; Talk about a swinging pendulum – talk about a major transformation! Not did he just go from God to Man, but he went from God – the highest place, to the lowest place, a slave. Rd 7c; being born in the likeness of men.
- Being born means that he became human. Our text last week focused upon the fact that he was born of a woman – the fulfillment of prophecy. He could have arrived in pomp and circumstance in God form, but he would not have been able to die for the sins of man.
app.: Before we move to v 8, I’d like to clarify a couple of misperceptions about what we’ve just read.
- Jesus never stopped being God. Even while he was in the flesh as man, he was and is still God. His form may have changed, but who he is never did. Having emptied himself of certain divine characteristics it did not limit his ability nor his function as God. Jesus, becoming a man, never stopped being God.
- He wasn’t a mixture of both (say 50%-50%). He was 100% God and 100% man. James 1.17: 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. We probably first learned this doctrine from the song: “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
So, if Jesus never stopped being God and he isn’t a mixture of one part and another part, how is it that he sometimes seems limited?
- His glory as God was hidden beneath or behind his human nature. So well hidden was this phenomenon, that some people actually thought he wasn’t a very good man, let alone, that he was God. Others saw it clearly (John 20, Thomas: My Lord and my God). Still, those who couldn’t just could not get past this idea that Paul says: he emptied himself. For them, Jesus wasn’t anything near what they had expected – a mere man, as they saw him. He hid his glory beneath or behind his human nature.
t.s.: now, let’s read v 8; Paul is teaching us that God sent us His son to die for us.
III. Jesus was sacrificed for our sin.
exp.: Jesus is the One who was to come. He is the Messiah. We would know that he was to come because for centuries God had told all about him. The information is there… we just need to process it.
His one purpose, as we looked at it last week in Galatians 4.4-5, was to redeem us.
1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. You see two parts in this verse:
- The sacrifice of Christ and
- Our call to sacrifice for others.
Let’s deal with this 1st part: Christ’s sacrifice.
Why? Why would Christ die for us? Truthfully, that is an ocean too deep and too broad for us to comprehend. When you consider the sum of its parts, you’re left undone. Really, you are! Consider the 1st part of that verse: By this we know love.
- God is love… it is who he is… and so, he loves us. That in itself is almost too much to take in: that God in perfection would love someone like me – a sinner. Someone who rejected him. Someone who is selfish and can be so unkind. 1 Jn 4.8 says point blank: God is love; I don’t mean to imply that God is touchy-feely or that he is akin to humans. We must never take our human traits and place them upon God. True, we are made in his image, but please remember the he is not to be made in our image. He loves differently than we do. His love is a perfect love. Our love fails in so many ways. Which brings me to my second application.
- His work to save us comes to us totally free and undeserved. God’s love is unmerited. Eph 1.4: 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. You and I don’t love that way. We try, but we fail. Not God – in his perfect love, he offers this precious gift of salvation through the sacrifice of his Son, free and unmerited.
Ill.: In our Community Group I asked our folks to ponder the lengths God went to in order to save us…in order to save you! Let’s do that for a moment. Move beyond this moment in time we’re looking at – when Christ was sacrificed and consider what God was doing to get to this place. God was at work before the creation of the world to restore what would go wrong. God was always… God has always been at work bringing about the restoration of what was destroyed in the garden.
Which brings us to our second goal this morning: properly presenting him to the world. In Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
In our video, Kevin DeYoung said: as you’ve probably heard by now and should definitely tell someone else…
See the verse above and when you consider this word world (Go into all the world), I want you to think ‘badness’ over ‘bigness’ (D.A. Carson in his little book, The Difficult Doctrine of Love brings this out so beautifully). The word world is often times used to describe the evil that has infiltrated God’s creation because of sin. There is not doubt that at times this word means the earth, but at other times it is used to describe the sinfulness of man.
- Be in the world, not of it.
- Paul said of Demas in 2 Timothy: 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Paul isn’t saying Demas loves this big planet, but rather the wicked ways of this world.
When you hear 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Think badness, not bigness.
The word So is not a definition of God’s love, but rather the demonstration of God’s love. I’ve used the terms manner and measure before. Then, consider the world not in its bigness, but in its badness. And, let that settle over you. Oh, how amazing God truly is, that He would work to restore what has been destroyed.
When you look at the whole picture from Creation to today, stop at the flood. God was so repulsed at the world, that he destroyed it all and started over. This time though, he sent his son.
The 2nd part of 1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. This is our call to sacrifice for others.
For sure, there is no place on this earth that we should not go to take this message. But don’t think of it geographically, but rather as demographically. Infiltrate all of its badness with this good news to every single person. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the only antidote – the only hope against evil.
Lisa was telling me this week that one of her messages, Bible studies for the children during VBS was John 3.16. One task with the kids was to answer why Jesus came.
Why did God the Father send Jesus? Jesus came to Restore what had been damaged at Creation through Adam and Eve’s rebellion.
What did he do for us? Their 2nd task was to Recognize what Jesus did. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin; thereby, making this restoration possible.
3rd, they were asked, “How should you Respond to this Good News?” Believe and Receive. 2ndly, go and tell. Because they don’t know – they’ve not heard. It is as if Jesus is right there in their presence but they just don’t recognize him.
Transition: All of what happened from the very beginning has pointed us to this moment – the virgin would be with child and give birth to a baby boy, who would be called Emmanuel: God with us. This baby would grow into a young boy and into a young man. He would live a perfect and sinless life, thereby making him the only one who could pay the penalty for sins: yours and mine. He would die on a cross, making atonement for our sin. He would rise from the dead and ascend to the Father where he rules and reigns in glory as we await his imminent return.
Why did he come? He came to restore that which had been damaged. Our part then is to recognize the lengths God went to restore what has been damaged in sending his son to die for our sin. And, then we should respond appropriately with that Good News.
Conclusion: I met Jesse as a young man in the Army. We were stationed together and he had just been reassigned to my company. He was to me, larger than life. He had a personality they just drew others to him, including me. What was truly amazing to me was that he wanted to be my friend. I’m not sure anyone has influenced my life like Jesse did. Sure, many have had an influence, but Jesse influenced me as a total person.
He could always tell a good joke. He made me laugh so hard. I wanted to be able to tell jokes like he did. So, I practiced. Sometimes, I could just look at him and he’d make me laugh. He could just make a certain face or movement and he would set me off.
We went to the same church. Jesse could give me the giggles and that’s bad during a sermon!
He was so outgoing – not afraid to talk to anybody. I liked that in him. So, I tried to be more like him when I met people. I think some of that was already in me, but Jesse brought more of that out in me.
Jesse was very much an outdoorsman. He could scuba dive, skin dive, surf, boogie board, snorkel, sail. He could hunt and fish. We would go night diving and spear fish while they were sleeping. Sometimes, he would go down and pet a gigantic fish while it slept. He could reach out and grab a lobster with his hands. I could never do that. Jesse could hold his breath for what seemed like endless minutes. He would go down, find a lobster or gigantic eel, like those in the Little Mermaid, and then call me down. I would swim down, holding my breath. He’d point out something fascinating and then I’d have to go back up to catch my breath. He’d stay down there for a while and then swim back up. Amazing.
Jesse was the best friend I think I ever had. In many ways, I wanted to be just like him.
As I look back on that relationship, I worshipped Jesse in many ways. I know I have to be careful when I say that, because it can be misunderstood. But that is probably a good word to describe the relationship we had.
App.: When you worship something or someone you begin to take on those characteristics and manners. When you take someone or something and hold it out there before you – and, it consumes your focus and attention – a part of you changes. Now, that can be really good or that can be very bad.
What or who do you worship? What or who influences your life? Your decisions? Your actions? If Jesus is your idol, your object of worship, you will become more like him. And that, my friends, is one of the ways the people around you will see him. Then, when you tell them about him – it will all come together.
How will you respond to Jesus? I hope he will become the center of you attention and life.