Advent Series 2012, Pt. 3 | What The Incarnation Means For Me

In part two of this Advent series we looked at the sweet baby Jesus. The truly human characteristics of his life and ministry on earth are remarkable and confounding. The word, “amazement,” would only slightly capture what the doctrine of the Incarnation represents. The Christian faith is subsumed in this mystery.

My goal in the previous article was to look at the human side of Jesus. However, there is another side, equally present and infinitely more difficult to comprehend. The apostle Paul records an early hymn of the church describing what Jesus “did” in order to come and take on flesh. I placed the word “did” in quotation marks because I have no better way of explaining what happened. Paul reminds the Philippians of Jesus humility and journey toward earth in the second chapter of the letter.

5 ;Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 ;who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 ;but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 ;And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 ;Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 ;so 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.

From the very beginning the church has sought to understand what it meant for God to enter into the human narrative and secure the redemption of the entire race.The phrase that captures my mind and speaks directly to this mystery in these verses is found in verse 7. What does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself?” The very thought ties the mind in theological, intellectual and philosophical knots. I want to state right from the start, I am not claiming to have the definitive answer to this question. I do, however, have strong reasons for believing what I am going to offer.

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The Epistle of Joy and A Theology of Suffering

In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians there is an interesting dichotomy developing. Paul gave thanks for what God was doing in his life and in the life of the believers in Philippi. He then turns his attention to what is happening to him. And what is that? He is in prison because of his preaching of the Gospel. He is doing exactly what … Continue reading The Epistle of Joy and A Theology of Suffering

“Faith is…” Series, Pt. 9 | Faith is… Surrendering to the Will of God

39And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-45, ESV)

One of the most difficult realities of the Christian journey is this: It’s not about me. Jesus did not die so that I could have everything I ever wanted. God did not orchestrate the greatest rescue mission in the history of the cosmos so that we could gather around dinner tables and reminisce about how bad it was “out there” before we were rescued. This kind of thinking goes in the face of what the bible teaches and, more importantly, it diminishes the worth and glory of God. Any and every failure on our part to live our lives according to the sacrifice of Christ is a travesty and an insult to God’s grace and love.
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