READ TEXT. In our last lesson Paul told us that unity within the church occurs when the members recognize the life changing experiences they have experienced in Christ. It's our experiences in Christ that supply our motivation to strive for unity. When the proper motivation is present, the members will give evidence of the effects of a changed life; the "marks" of unity. This evidence was summarized by Paul in three humble attitudes: 1.) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, 2.) Esteem others better than yourselves, and 3.) Look to the interests of others.
Today Paul gives us the "model" that leads to true unity in the church. That model is the "humble" Christ. Though Christ Jesus was on the same level as God the Father, He was willing to let go of His rights as a God and come to earth as a man. A humble man.
Think for a moment of what Jesus gave up to go from God to man. Three things quickly come to mind. First He gave up His glory. In Jn. 17:5, Jesus prayed to the Father, "And now O' Father glorify Me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you, before the world began." You and I cannot fully understand the glory that Jesus enjoyed with the Father in heaven. When Moses asked God in Ex. 33, to see "the glory of God." God told him, that wasn't possible. In Ex. 33:20, God tells him, "No man shall see Me and live." God's glory is too much for any mortal man to process. Too dazzling, too brilliant, we would be overwhelmed. The sheer beauty and majesty of God in heaven is beyond our imagination. Jesus knew that glory, but He gave it up for us.
Secondly, Jesus gave up all His riches to become a humble man. Paul speaks to this in 2 Cor. 8:9, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
On earth as a man, Jesus was poor. He had no home. (MT. 20:8) He was supported during His ministry by the generosity of others, including women. (Lu. 8:1-3) When He died, the only possessions He owned were the clothes on His back. In death Jesus was placed in a tomb given to Him by the generous Joseph of Arimathea. (Mt. 27:57-60) By our worldly standards, Jesus was a beggar.
Jesus also gave up His authority of His own will. He now did all that the Father told Him. In Jn. 5:30, "I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father, Who sent Me." The writer of Hebrews in 5:8, tells us, "He learned obedience by the things He suffered." By giving up His rights as God, Jesus suffered poverty, scorn, and punishment. That's what God gave up!
Paul goes on to tell us in v.7, that Jesus became a "bondservant", a slave, He came in the "likeness of man". It was necessary that He become a human being, that He might become the "second Adam." The first Adam brought the curse of death into the world because of his one act of disobedience. But Jesus, "through His one act of righteousness gave us justification of life." (Rom.5:18) He had to live a righteous life without sin that He might be our perfect sacrifice as our High priest. (Heb. 4:15)
Also in v. 7, we are told, "He made Himself of no reputation". The actual Greek word rendered "no reputation" means "emptied". Jesus "emptied" Himself. He became in a word "nothing." Read Isa. 53: 1-6. In just the first three verses of this prophecy about Jesus, we are told; He was fragile, like a "tender root", He was not particularly attractive or beautiful, and He was despised and rejected. The Son of God, Who reflected the glory and majesty of God, was while on earth an "unremarkable man."
In v. 8 of our text, Paul tells us that the already humbled Christ, humbled Himself even further. To death, "even the death of the cross." The cross was a criminal's death. Yet as you already know from Isa. 53: 5,6, Jesus had to suffer for our sins. On the cross He took all the world's sins upon Himself and bore our punishment for them. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:21, "For He made Him, who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God through Him."
Because of our sins, Jesus experienced what every sinner, who dies apart from Christ will experience; separation from God. It was because of this terrible loss of fellowship with the Father that Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?"
For us to become like Christ means that we must see others as being better than ourselves. We must see our brothers and sisters in Christ as being those whom we are obligated to serve. We must also, like Christ be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. That's our model, the humble Christ.
1. Our model as Christians for humility and service is ________________________.
2. Why did Jesus have to come to earth as a man according to Heb. 4:15?
3. Through what in Heb. 5:8 did Jesus learn "obedience" in this world?
4. Whose will did Jesus do while He was on earth?
5. What three things did we see in our lesson that Jesus gave up when He became a man?
6. According to Isa. 53:1-3, what was Jesus' appearance as a man like?