Perils of Pride #14: Humility of the Incarnation

Philippians 2:5-11

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
. (NIV)

We come today to the last post in the series “Perils of Pride” and also to the final post on the topic of the example of humility found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have seen the humility of Jesus Christ in his service and in his sacrifice. Today we will look at the humility of Jesus Christ in his incarnation. The question we must ask ourselves as we begin to think about the Christmas season is this: How could it be that the creator of the entire universe would condescend to become as one of his creations?

Let us suppose that you work in an automobile manufacturing plant. You turn out beautiful cars for a living. Or let us suppose that you enjoy arts and crafts, and you make beautiful trinkets to display on your mantel and to give away as presents. Or let’s suppose you are a writer and your produce excellent books. There is beauty and utility in each of these things. But would you be willing to purposely lay aside your intelligence and your creativity to become just like one of the things which you created? That is exactly what Jesus Christ did.

We are told in Philippians 2:6-8 that Jesus Christ “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (NIV) Jesus Christ is himself God and we are told that he is the creator of all things (see Colossians 1:16). But Jesus did not consider his full equality with God something to be held on to. Instead, notice how the Apostle Paul describes the humiliation that Jesus Christ subjected himself to in his incarnation as a man:

He made himself nothing. This is where we find the Greek word “kenosis,” which means “to empty.” Jesus Christ emptied himself when he became a man. What did he empty himself of? He became no less God, but he emptied himself of the manifestation of much of his glory and the manifestation of much of his power. He accepted many of the limitations that come with being human. He may have at times been hot, or cold, or hungry, or thirsty or tired. He knew what it was like to feel sorrow and rejection. He faced temptation and betrayal by one of his closest associates. He suffered death at the hands of angry and jealous men.

He became a servant. The King of all the universe became a servant to all. He could have been born into a palace. Instead he chose to have a peasant for a mother and to be born into a stable. The one who created everything perfect, but who saw mankind desecrate of all creation through sin, stooped down to touch the eyes of a blind man and the skin of a leper. He touched a funeral bier of a dead man and raised him from the dead. And do you think that these acts cost Jesus nothing? In Isaiah 53:4, we read, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (NIV).

He was made in human likeness and in appearance as a man. The holy eternal one took up the body of a temporal man. The creator took on the appearance of the created one.

He humbled himself. No human has any right to have pride in themselves. But Jesus Christ did because he was without sin. But instead of flaunting his perfection before the ones he created, he humbled himself before his creation. He stooped to wash the feet of men he created. And he stood silent before the accusations and mocking of men he created.

He made himself obedient. Jesus Christ has shown us the true relationship between a father and son, and that is a relationship of obedience. Jesus Christ came to completely fulfill God’s set purpose, and everything Jesus did was to please the Father, not himself. God the Father himself would proclaim to all “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 NIV)

He made himself obedient even unto death on a cross. The obedience of Jesus Christ knew no bounds. Not only was he completely obedient to the Father in the manner of his life, he was completely obedient to the Father in the manner of his death. The creation put the creator to death. A jar of clay stood up against its creator and the creator allowed a jar of clay to take away his life. And there could have been no more humble way for Jesus Christ to die – a criminal’s death for one who had committed no crime.

So let us return our original question. How could it be that the creator of the entire universe would condescend to become as one of his creations? I believe that the answer to this question lies in the fact that Jesus Christ the creator had not ceased from his act of creation. When man desecrated the perfect creation of Jesus Christ, God the Father and Jesus Christ already had a perfect plan to set all things right again. And that plan involved Jesus Christ becoming as one of his creations. Practically every act of Jesus Christ while he was in a human body here on earth was an act of purifying his fallen creation. Every lame person he healed, every blind eye he made see, every leper he cleansed, every person he raised from the dead, was an act toward the restoration of his creation to perfection. The only exception I know of is when Jesus cursed the fig tree (see Matthew 21:19-21). And of course the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is his ultimate act of the redemption of his creation, because it was through this act that he was able to redeem a people for himself from their sin.

This truth is well-described by Paul in Romans 5:12-19. Let us end with reading these verses together.

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—
13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous
. (NIV)

By Berean Husband


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