And the center of this thought is the idea that the Son of God “’came’ in the likeness of men”. I want you to consider this today that this is the boldest claim made in religious history. There is no claim greater than the incarnation – the birth of a God taking on human flesh. And it is this claim that separates Christianity from all other religions. “He was made in the likeness of men.” Other translations say, “when he appeared in human form”, or “when he was born to be a man”, or “having become human, he stayed human.”
Everything about Christianity hinges on the truthfulness of this claim, that God appeared as one of us. In fact, in the early church, you couldn’t even be considered a Christian if that claim wasn’t settled in your mind and heart. The apostle John put it this plainly, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” (I John 4:2)
Immanuel (God with Us)
Why in the world would a “greater than” God willingly choose a “lesser than” form of existence? To appear as a man, the second member of the Godhead had to divest Himself of certain divine prerogatives. As our text says, “He didn’t consider his equality with God something to be grasped”. That doesn’t mean He gave up His divine nature, He was still fully God, but it does mean that He laid aside His divine glory. He emptied himself of all of those attributes that would conflict with his humanity while He was among us. He would give up his divine privileges.
To the degree that He took a form where He couldn’t walk, He couldn’t talk, He couldn’t feed himself. He left an existence of perfect joy and perfect love and perfect relationships to come to a world where sin and hatred are the norm.
Jesus gave up Timelessness
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
John 8:58, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
Jesus gave up Boundlessness
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)
He was bound to a sordid reputation. For the rest of His life, people remarked about how His mother was not married when became pregnant.
He was bound to poverty. The only thing He had was divided below the cross where they crucified Him.
He was vulnerable. The family had to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt for a time. Men pulled out His beard, others stuck Him and cursed Him. “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Jesus did all of this for me. Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” He even took my sins upon Himself. The sinless took on sin and was separated from the Father for this.
“God, you do not want sacrifices and offerings, but you have prepared a body for me…Here I am to do your will.” (Hebrews 10:5,7, GN
Don’t insult me by telling that all religions are basically the same. There is no other religion that speaks of a “greater than” God who chooses to become “lesser than”. There’s no claim greater than this one. This story is true, it is a game changer. And yet, we live so often like we don’t believe it.
Jesus is indeed the Son of God, He deserves more than just our admiration, He deserves our adoration, our worship.
In Titus 2:11-12, Paul says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Notice how Paul used the word “appeared” twice. Jesus appeared once when he came to this earth as a child, and sometime in the future there will be a second “glorious appearing” when he returns to judge mankind.
And so, Jesus is the one person about whom every person must make a decision. The greater became lesser than all the way to a cross. So, I bow down to Him, and worship.