Thursday, December 25, 2014

Not What They Were Looking For - But What the Wise Men Found

Matthew 2:1-6
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Actress Helen Hayes told a story one time about the time she cooked her very first turkey dinner. She wasn’t a very good cook, so she warned her family ahead of time, saying,
“This may not come out exactly the way I want it to. If it is not a good turkey, don’t say a thing. Without any comment, just stand up from the table, and we’ll go to the nearest restaurant and eat.”
She went into the kitchen to get the bird, and when she came back, her husband and son were already standing with their coats on. I guess we know what they expected, don’t we?

But, it is often said our expectations control our conduct. If you expect to have a good time at an event, you probably will; but if you dread going, you will probably hate it – that’s the way we function.

It is the same when you meet people. Everyone except a total stranger comes with a reputation, so when you meet someone you’ve already heard about, you’ve got this idea about what that person is like. You’ve already made a mental impression

But, so often, the person you meet doesn’t bear any resemblance to the person you heard about, and you go, “Wow! I’m sure surprised.”

Imagine how it was like that for the wise men. They’d studied the Holy Writings for centuries that predicted a coming King to rule over Israel. They watched the stars continually, looking for new phenomena as a sign. And they were expectant. When, lo and behold, a cosmic sign is given - a new star is spotted off to the west. The excitement must have been palpable. All the centers of learning were abuzz with this new find, and a plan was put in place to go see.

We don’t know how many came, or how big a caravan they had. It’s not likely there were just three, as the song says. But they came searching, following the star, and they came with expectations about what they would find.

What were they looking for? Why, the new king of Israel, of course, one destined to be ruler of the world, one so important the prophets wrote about Him centuries before He came. And yes, even one the prophets, Isaiah, hinted at His being God Himself coming in human form.

The Old Testament prophecies were wide spread and well known because of the dispersion of the Jews throughout Babylon and Persia. These wise men had high expectations as to what they would find at the end of their trip.

Matthew 2:1-2 tells a little about their expectations
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Think about it: If you were looking for a king, where would you look, and what would you expect? Would you look in a palace, or a stable, especially if this new king was the King of kings, and Lord of lords?

Yet, where was Jesus born? He was born in a dark, drafty stable filled with smelly animals and rodents? It was the last place you would ever expect to be used as a delivery room. As Bill Hybels wrote, “Jesus’ first breath of air burned with the odor of animal urine. The first noises he heard were the grunts of livestock.” Not the kind of place you would expect the Son of God to be born in. It was the furthest thing from a palace.

And what about attendants? Would you expect a nation all abuzz with the exciting news, or a humble birth accompanied by the lowest of shepherds? Certainly, if this was God’s Son, God could provide better quarters if He wanted, but He chose not to. Of Course God could, but God wanted His Son to relate to all humans, not just royalty.

Again quoting Bill Hybels,
“From day one, God the Father determined not to shelter His Son from the rude, crude realities of life on planet earth. Jesus understands. He’s been there. . . . Can insulated aristocracy relate to what you and I go through?”
So Jesus walked among us, and like us, except without sin. He had a regular family, worked as a carpenter, and served as a traveling rabbi. There was no hint of royal blood in His demeanor. Yet, it is safe to assume, since the wise men went first to the palace in Jerusalem and to Herod’s royal court, that they expected this new born king to be born into royalty and to be accompanied with fanfare and pomp and circumstance.

Now, certainly, Joseph and Mary didn’t stay in the stable long. Would you? They would have quickly found other accommodations in Bethlehem, especially in the time it took for the wise men to arrive. But it certainly wasn’t over a palace where the star came to rest. Were they disappointed when they arrived and now found the babe living in rented quarters? Did they think, “Maybe we ought not give the gold, frankincense, and myrrh to a commoner? We’ll take it back to Jerusalem as a present for Herod?”

To their credit, they didn’t seem to bat an eye when the star led them to a baby who had been born in a barn. They did indeed worship this baby, and they did indeed bestow gifts fitting for a king. They were convinced that, in spite of the baby not being what they expected, that He was the new-born king. The star, after all, had led them directly here. They weren’t mistaken in their calculations. This was the place where the star had led them.

Matthew 2:9 says, “And behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” So, in spite of their false assumptions, they rejoiced and worshipped.

Matthew 2:10-11 says:
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Ah, but the rest of the population, except for the shepherds, weren’t interested in a humble Messiah. They stayed away. They refused to worship Him.

But, it wasn’t just as a baby the nation rejected Him. John 1:11-12 teaches,
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
When He grew up, people came looking for the miracle working Messiah they heard about who healed the sick, cast out demons, and fed the multitude. And they willingly accepted the goodies from His hand. But they really couldn’t accept a wandering rabbi without a place to lay his head, not as their Messiah, not as their king.

In Matthew 8:20, we read:
20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Poverty was his lot, along with rejection, ridicule, and opposition to everything He taught. And the final crushing rejection led to His execution as a traitor to Rome. He was anything but the regal king and conquering hero they expected. They could never fathom that the cross was part of God’s plan of salvation.

And His message wasn’t one they were expecting. Nor was it one they would tolerate. Matthew 16:24-26 states:
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
When they heard His demands, the crowds evaporated. “No way! The Messiah is supposed to serve me, not the other way around. I didn’t sign up for a cross.” And eventually, they would cry out for His crucifixion.

But in spite of the fact that the vast majority of mankind rejected Him, His Father didn’t. Philippians 2:9-11 records:
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So Jesus isn’t who people expected, but He is who God sent. And He perfectly obeyed His Father’s will and plan. Our choice is to receive Him as He is, not as we want Him to be, or to reject Him, to our damnation, because He doesn’t match our expectations. What is your choice?

The wise men didn’t find what they expected, but they wisely worshipped the Lord as He actually was and gave Him the very best they had. Should we not do the same for the real Christ who came? When you find that Jesus isn’t what you expected, do you hold back, reluctant to give Him your best? Or do you without reservation give Him all you have - your life?

This Christmas, what do you make of the one born in a stable and laid in a manger? John Maxwell stated it this way: “If Christmas is about anything, it’s about a baby – God’s baby, born in a stable, who changed the world forever.”

Luke 2:11 says: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Is He your Lord?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Why Did God Exalt Jesus? Why Would He Exalt Us?

Philippians 2:9
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.
Why did God exalt Jesus? If you look at verse 9, you see that it begins with the word, “therefore,” so it refers back to what was just written. It refers to His humiliation in the incarnation. The New American Standard translates the beginning of the verse this way, “For this reason also.” This is His reward for His willingness to humble Himself in the incarnation, especially, His willingness to go to the cross as our substitute. His exaltation is His reward for the cross.

That’s the payoff. That’s why Jesus was willing to go through the excruciating humiliation of the cross. He did it because that isn’t the end of the story. His humbling was a path to His exaltation.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us:
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How could Jesus go to the cross? Jesus could go to the cross because He looked beyond the cross to the other side. He looked beyond the pain and suffering and beyond all that humiliation, and He looked into eternity where He would sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven fully glorified again and exalted again above all of creation.

Listen! Our humbling, our sacrifice - that isn’t the end of our story either – No way! We can look beyond the grave to eternity as well. We can look to that day when we too will be exalted. In Matthew 23:12, this is what Jesus tells us: “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Amen! Our humbling is also our path to exaltation.

Now look at: James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Also, 1st Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”

If we humble ourselves to do Christ’s will, God the Father will lift us up and exalt us – that is His promise! Our humbling is the path to our exaltation.

That’s one of the paradoxes of the Christian life. The more we give, the more we receive. The more we sacrifice, the more God blesses. The more we humble ourselves, the more God exalts us in heaven. Which is precisely why Paul can say in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

What an awesome truth. If we could quantify the amount of suffering we endure in this life, than compare it to the exaltation we receive in heaven, the exaltation will be exponentially greater. And listen, the more we suffer here, the greater the reward will be there. Increased suffering for Christ now will exponentially increase our exaltation there. That’s God promise, and that’s our motivation!

But that is also God’s plan for us, just as it was for His Son, Jesus. From the book of Romans again we read in Romans 8:29-30:
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
That’s our destiny. We have been called by God and adopted as His children, and as such, He has “predestined” us to be “glorified” just like God did with Jesus. And if God promised it, you can count on it.

1st John 3:2 also gives us this assurance,
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Doesn’t that make any sacrifice we make in this life seem worth it?

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Rest of the Story

Philippians 2:9 – “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

What a Scripture trip this has been. When we ended our study last time on this portion of Scripture, things were looking pretty gloomy for Jesus. Jesus was nailed to a cruel cross to suffer and to bleed and to die the most excruciatingly painful death that man could think up.

And He did it for us. He died to be our sacrifice for sin. He died in the place of we who were His enemies, and unrighteous, sinful people. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world so He willingly laid down His life for us suffering our shame, punishment, and humiliation. He took our place, becoming our substitute on that cross. He gave up everything that heaven offered, every perk and privilege to humble Himself by become a man, but not just any man, a servant; a slave – even to the point of dying on the cross. That’s where we left Jesus last time - humbled to the point of death, even the death on the cross.

But, remember? We always read and understand Scripture in context. And the context is found in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” If Jesus thought this was what He ought to do, we ought to think the same way, right? We ought to have an attitude of humility and sacrifice just like Jesus had, right? We ought to have the mind of Jesus even if it means laying down our lives for the brethren. That’s what we read earlier.

We looked at 1st John 3:16, which said, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” But isn’t that what Jesus often taught? Aren’t we to emulate Him? He told us in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

We read that right. Jesus was on His way to the cross, and on the way, He tells us to grab up ours. That’s an invitation to accompany Him to Calvary, to take a place alongside him. This is a requirement of discipleship. Jesus willingly made the ultimate sacrifice for us, we are required to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for Him. But He gave up His perfect divine life, and we live the lives of wretched sinners. What He gave up was so much more, yet total sacrifice is what He demands of us – all we have! Does that scare you?

But, can we really be expected to do that? To give our lives to Him? To sacrifice our wills to Him? Especially in light of the history of the church that is filled with the bloody martyrdom of the church’s finest? Should we be willing to make even that ultimate sacrifice?

The Scripture is clear – Yes! That is exactly what Jesus demands. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him, He gives us an invitation to an execution. At the very least, our old nature must die. Our old nature must be nailed to that same cross that Jesus hung on. Only then can we say, with Paul in Galatians 2:20,
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Can you say that? That your old nature, that sin nature, has been crucified? Can you say that Christ lives in you?

But how? How can Jesus ask so much of us? I know Jesus did it Himself, but He was God! How? It’s because He knew a secret - a not so secret, secret - but a secret that makes it all worthwhile. The truth is, death is not the end of the story. Death is merely a transition into eternity. And that’s where we’re going next, we are going into eternity. As Paul Harvey used to say (bless his dearly departed soul), “And now for the rest of the story.” The rest of the story is that the cross and the grave are not the end.

What is the rest of the story? What is the ultimate result of this short account of world history - an account that has taken us from eternity past all the way to eternity future? The answer is obvious –the rest of the story is the glorification of Jesus Christ. His humbling gave way to His exaltation. The grave could not hold Him. We are told in Philippians 2:9, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

That was what God really wanted to do all the time. He wanted to highly exalt His Son. He will also exalt you, if you are found faithful to the end.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Obedient Even Unto Death

Philippians 2:5-8
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
We began this long discussion by talking about the lies told about Jesus. False teachers will either deny that Jesus was fully God, or they will deny that He was fully man. Hopefully, we have convinced you beyond a shadow of doubt through our study that Jesus is fully God. Now today we will look at the second lie, and I will try to convince you that Jesus is also fully man.

We read in verse 7 about Jesus, “and coming in the likeness of men.” This deals with the second lie or heresy we talked about – whether Jesus was fully man. “Likeness” is the Greek word homoioma, and it refers to something that is made to be like something else, not just in appearance, but in reality. Jesus’ forever essence is as God, but He was made into the essence of a man. Jesus became exactly like other men, minus the sin nature part, of course.

He wasn’t some freak of nature, half God and half man. He was 100% God and became 100% man. No one would have suspected that He was anything other than a man. If the angels hadn’t revealed His identity at His birth, the shepherds couldn’t have found Him. And if God hadn’t put the star in the sky, the wise men couldn’t have recognized Him. Had His miracles not attested to Him, He could have been overlooked because Jesus was 100% human.

Jesus began as a human in the normal fashion. His mother gave birth to Him, albeit as a virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit. He had to be cared for as an infant, and be taught, Yes, even have His diapers changed. He became hungry and thirsty. He experienced pain, loneliness, sorrow.

As Hebrews 2:14-15 says,
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Jesus was fully, totally, completely human. Except that when He was tempted to sin, just as we are, He refused that temptation.

But then, Paul seems to repeat that thought in Philippians 2:8. We read:
“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
In English this seems to be a repeat, but it is not in Greek. Verse 7 used the word, “homoioma,” or likeness. It refers to something made to be like something else, not just in appearance, but in reality. Jesus was “coming in the likeness of men.”

Then, in verse 8, Paul uses the Greek word “Schema,” a word that refers to simply the outward appearance. Jesus could have come as a superman, with superhuman strength and ability, or grown to be fifteen feet high. Then nobody would have ever confused Him for being just a man. His deity would have been apparent. But He didn’t, He looked like everyone else. That’s why, then and even today, He was faced with those who could never look upon Him as anything more than a mere man.

But what did he do as a man? Verse 8 says, “He humbled Himself.” This isn’t talking now about His essence or His form. This is talking about His attitude. This is defining the mind of Christ that we are called on to emulate in verse 5.

Obviously, Jesus had to have humbled Himself below his Father, to empty Himself of His divine prerogatives, in order to be born a man. But it didn’t end there. He made Himself even lower than other men. That goes beyond even being born in stable and laid in a manger or living in poverty with no home. He was mocked, falsely accused, spit upon, beaten and scourged, and crucified on a cruel cross

Philip Reese writes:
“Look at Him – this amazing Jesus! He is helping Joseph make a yoke in that little carpenter shop at Nazareth. This is the one who, apart from His self-emptying, could far more easily make a solar system or a galaxy or systems.
Look at Him again! Dressed like a slave, with towel and basin for his menial equipment, He is bathing the feet of some friends of His who, but for their quarrelsomeness, should have been washing His feet….‘He humbled Himself!’ “Don’t forget this,’ cries Paul to these dear friends of his at Philippi. ‘Don’t forget this when the slightest impulse arises to self-assertive and self-seeking, and so to break the bond of your fellowship with one another!’”
Do you see this? The mind of Christ? We’re to have that mind.

How far did Jesus humble Himself? Verse 8 says, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death.” Wow, what a statement. J. Vernon McGee said: “We have to die, but we don’t want to; He didn’t have to die, but He wanted to.”

We’re all going to die. We don’t have any choice in that. It is a necessary part of our existence because of our sinful hearts and the curse. But Jesus had a choice, and He chose to die. He chose to die in obedience to the will of His Father. He could have called it off. He could have all the way up to that last breath. But out of love, He stayed on the path leading Him to His death. He did it in obedience to His Father’s will.

Look at the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of his betrayal. Three times he prayed for this cup to be taken from Him. He knew the horror that awaited Him in a few minutes as the palace guard came to arrest Him.

Look at His prayer in Matthew 26:39:
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
The Father didn’t force death upon Jesus. Jesus willing humbles himself to the point of death, because it was also His will.

Look at what he said in John 10:17-18:
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
But His death wasn’t an ordinary death. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” He didn’t die of a heart attack, or cancer or in a war, or from old age. He died on a cross. He died by being executed as the most vile of criminals. Rome perfected the execution of the cross.

Quoting John MacArthur, “Crucifixion is perhaps the most cruel, excruciatingly painful, and shameful form of execution ever conceived.” They would never use it on a Roman citizen, but they reserved it for slaves, the lowest of criminals, and enemies of the state.

But isn’t that what Jesus was? Not a criminal or an enemy of the state, but a slave? He willingly made Himself a bondservant, so He was the kind Rome would put on a cross. It was the most humbling of all possible forms of death, and Jesus took that upon himself. It would be like saying in our day, He humbled himself to the electric chair, or the gas chamber, or the hangman’s noose.

Frederick Farrar, in The Life of Christ, describes crucifixion this way:
“A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly – dizziness, cramps, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of intended wounds – all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness . . . The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish.”
Add to that the fact that Jesus was a Jew, and Jews considered crucifixion to be hanging. They considered those who were hung to be cursed by God.

Paul quoted from Deuteronomy 21:23 in pointing that out in Galatians 3:13 -
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).

Why did Jesus go to the cross? Because He was the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He was our final and perfect sacrifice - a sacrifice that was pictured in the Old Testament. The Old Testament sacrifice was a bloody thing. The priests were blood splattered butchers as they killed the sacrifices and drained their blood. Christ, likewise, as out High Priest shed blood, but it was His own blood He spilled for us to pay the penalty for our sin. And this is the essence of Jesus’ mission – He came as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He came from heaven to earth, from glory to shame, from master to servant, from life to death, even the death of the cross – WHAT GRACE!

If we are to have the mind of Christ, this is the mind that He exhibited. He was willing to give up everything to come and die for us. And this is the kind of attitude we are to have as well. That is our daunting task. As it says in: 1st John 3:16 – “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Are you willing to sacrifice for one another?

Many people are willing to serve others if it doesn’t cost them anything, but if there’s a price tag, people suddenly lose interest. But Jesus was obedient to death. As J.H. Jowett said, “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.” It cost Jesus His life. What are you sacrificing for God? What are you sacrificing for one another?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Kenosis

We’ve spent a lot of time making the case that Jesus is God. But, even though He was God, He didn’t think He needed to cling to the privileges of Godhood. He was willing to hold them loosely, which allowed Him to come to earth on His mission of redemption. Rather than grasping at His position and prestige, He was willing to forgo it all. Philippians 2:7 says: “But [He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”

The word, “but,” means: “not this but that.” It means: not grasping and clinging to all the perks and privileges of Godhood; but becoming a servant. When the King James translates it as, “But made Himself of no reputation,” we can understand it. It seems to fit what Jesus did. And it certainly would have been a good example for us to follow. But it fails to convey the expansive meaning and power of what Christ really did.

What did Jesus do? He emptied Himself of the prerogatives of His deity. The word used here in Greek is “kenoo,” and it is often translated as “emptied.” That Greek word gives us the title of the doctrine of Kenosis, or the emptying of Christ at His incarnation.

But what did he empty Himself of? Certainly not His deity. He never ceased to be God; that was made clear in the last verse. Had He ceased being God, He could not have died for the sins of the world. The great Lutheran commentator, R.C.H. Lenski wrote, “Even in the midst of His death, He had to be the mighty God in order by His death to conquer death.”

So what did He empty Himself of? Quoting John MacArthur, what Jesus did was to empty Himself “completely of every vestige of advantage and privilege, refusing to assert any divine right of His own behalf. He who created and owned everything forsook everything.” He did not ever cease to be God, He simply refused to use the prerogatives of God for His own benefit.

This is an issue that so many get wrong. Even one of my favorite hymns, “And Can It Be” by Charles Wesley, states, “Emptied Himself of all but love.” It sounds nice, but it is untrue. He did empty Himself because of love, but He never ceased being God.

What did He empty Himself of? Certainly not His power, or He couldn’t have performed all those miracles like walking on water, calming the storm, feeding the thousands, casting out demons, or healing every manner of disease, and raising the dead. Certainly not His omniscience, or he would not have been able to read men’s thoughts and hearts, or see the demons hiding within people. But He never exercised any of that apart from the will of His Father.

What else He emptied himself of was the divine glory of heaven, not His godhood. He appeared to be a regular person. He displayed no Shekinah glow or halo. Those pictures of Him with a halo are pure fabrication. He was totally indistinguishable by His appearance.

Also, He refused to act independent of His heavenly Father. He never acted on His own authority or desire. In John 5:30, Jesus told us: “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

In John 6:38, He said: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Jesus gave up the riches of heaven and the close face to face fellowship with His father all to come to earth and become a man, living without privilege and rank. He took upon Himself the “form of a bondservant.” His forever “form,” essence, morphe, was as God. But, He took upon Himself the “form,” the morphe, the essence, of a doulos - a bondservant. Totally, completely, and voluntarily, He placed Himself into the hands of His Master, His Father God. He owned not even the clothes on His back as a bondservant. It says in Matthew 8:20: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’.” Jesus lived His life as a servant. Read any of the Gospels, and you see this. Jesus always serves others, not the other way around.

But that was why He had come. As He said Himself, in Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

This is what we are called upon to do as well. We are to submit ourselves totally to God so that we can serve one another. This is why we were urged to have the mind of Christ back in verse 5. It only happens when we, like Christ, make the choice to give up the right to be in charge. It is then that we become available to God having no rights in ourselves. Then we can lose the fear of being stepped on and manipulated and taken advantage of by others. And isn’t that what we fear? But what joy comes when we submit to God and serve those He asks to serve rather than taking upon ourselves the right to determine who we pick to serve and when. What pride that is. Christ asks us to be bondservants to God, just like His own Son Jesus.