Monday, May 09, 2011
We said last week that Jesus’ self-emptying wasn’t Him laying aside His deity, but taking onto himself the fullness of our humanity. Moreover, He added to Himself the role, position, nature, and status of a servant—a human servant: He took on our flesh forever.
So When Paul says that the Messiah, Jesus, made himself nothing, he is summing up the whole of Jesus’ descent from the heights of glory to the lowest depths of degradation and deprivation and dereliction. But in this passage, especially in verses 7-8, when he says,
“He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men,”
Paul is drawing your attention to two things, both of which show Jesus’ humility: the servanthood of Jesus and the humanity of Jesus.
Paul wants us to look closely at the humanity of Jesus and learn about humility from Jesus’ humanity. In fact, he wants to point us to the humility of Jesus’ humanity; that is to say that when Jesus took on the fullness of our humanity, it entailed for Him a voluntary, vicarious humiliation; when He took on our humanity in this fallen world, He was willingly in our place bearing all manner of humiliation. And there too we see His humility, the humility that Paul wants us to emulate in the Christian life.
Over the next two days, we’ll look at five ways in which Jesus manifests His humility in His humanity and in His servanthood, as a way of encouraging us to emulate His humility.
I. Jesus’ human appearance and His public reputation were unremarkable.
Do you know how hard that must have been for the heavenly Father? The Father would have wanted the whole world to be attracted to His Son, to esteem His Son as His Son deserved, and yet Isaiah tells us 600 years before Jesus is born that “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” There was nothing about His visage, there was nothing about His outward appearance that caused men to be attracted to Him. He was common, easily overlooked and He never received the credit He deserved.
One of the ways that we manifest gospel humility is a willingness to serve without credit or applause. Christ lived His whole life, and He never ever once got all the credit that He deserved. Shouldn’t we be ready and willing to serve one another and all men without our first concern being getting the credit, getting the applause, getting the appreciation, getting the respect?
II. Secondly, Jesus’ humanity was completely perfect, but nevertheless He bore the consequences of sin the whole of His life for us.
Jesus is the only human being ever to keep the Law perfectly, and yet He lived from birth to death bearing the penalty and the consequences of a Law that He had never broken himself—for you, in your place. Do you even begin to imagine just the psychological effect of that? Have you ever had the privilege to walk with a friend in a season of life when that friend has been treated unfairly? And have you ever seen the oftentimes crippling effect of that on a person? That was Jesus’ constant experience when He embraced our humanity. Though He was perfect himself, though He himself was without sin, He lived in a world under its effects. He was not born into a world like Adam was born into. This is what Paul is saying in Galatians 4:4-5 when he says that He was “born under the Law to redeem those who were under the Law.” This is why Hebrews 5:8 says that “although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”
Jesus never ever once got what He deserved in this life. And you and I never get what we deserve in this life. He never got what He deserved in this life, so that you would never get what you deserve in this life or in the life to come: condemnation.
One way we will manifest gospel humility if we understand that is shown in our response to and our attitude toward the hardest things that we have to deal with in this life.
III. Jesus willingly divested himself of His rightful and infinite riches and in His humanity dwells in modesty and poverty for us and for our salvation.
That’s why Paul said in II Corinthians 8:9,
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that through His poverty you might become rich.”
And at the very least, this calls for us to have a radically different view of wealth and possessions in our affluent and consumeristic, self-indulgent and narcissistic culture. Because one way that we will manifest gospel humility is that we will realize that whatever we have comes from God’s gracious hand, the gift of a gracious God. We should have a radically different view of wealth and possessions and money, and the way we use it will show it.
IV. Jesus’ humanity veiled His glory.
John 1 tells us that He was with God, and He was God, and He was in the beginning with God, and all things were made through Him, and in Him was life, and He was the true life of all mankind, and He shared in God’s glory – glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. But John also tells you: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, but the world did not know Him.”
It gets worse: He came to His own, and His own people didn’t receive Him. He was so consumed with the interest of God’s glory that He willingly forgot His own, and His glory was veiled. And that’s our pattern. One way we manifest gospel humility is showing a zeal for His glory, and not our own. If we get no glory, praise God! He didn’t get the glory that He deserved.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at one final application of Christ’s human humility.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 5:22 PM