He became One of Us - John 1:14
preached by Brent W. Zastrow - March 11, 2001
Saybrook Christian Church - Saybrook, Il.
It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince
and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will
you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release
your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will
give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned
home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep
love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn’t notice. I could only keep my eyes on you-
-the one who was willing to give himself for me."
You know a similiar scene took place in heaven I believe, and we know one took
place on earth, before the judgement seat of pilate. Jesus was given some choices, he was
asked, what will you give for the human race? His answer -- I will give myself.
It is always my hope that our eyes are upon him when we gather for worship, but
that is especially true right now -- I hope we can concentrate soley on Him for the next
moments, upon what he gave for us, upon the choices he made to save us.
We are looking at the choices Jesus made as he sacrificed himself for our salvation
on these Sundays leading up to Ressurection Sunday. We have seen that he chose not
only to die in our place, but that he chose each and every step along the way as well. Last
week we saw that he chose the beatings, and the humilation, even being spit upon by those
guards because we have a darkside which he can overcome. That humilation of Jesus
reminds us of that darkside and our need for his forgiveness. Today we see that he made
the choice to come to earth and become as one of us. He chose to receive the thorns that
they smashed upon his scalp and we’ll see just what that means to us. I saw a church sign
this week which aptly states the case for us today -- He became like us so we could
become like him. Today I hope you will see how Jesus choice to come to earth is the
difference between life and death for you. I pray that that choice will motivate you to
make a choice or two of your own, to respond to that love and to live your live in
appreciation of that choice. But first of all I invite you to set your eyes on Christ. See
him as he is brought now into the circle of guards. They have stripped him of his clothing.
What shame and humilation that brought to him. We don’t relate these days as much to
that. Our rules of modesty are so much looser that we really can’t understand how it felt.
In the middle east, especially in ancient times, men woudln’t even uncover themselves in
front of other men. That is still true in many countries there today. So Jesus is once again
put into a very embarassing and shameful position. And then after taking those clothes
from him they put a purple robe that they found somewhere on his shoulders and they
begin to bow down in mock worship. Then someone has an idea. “How can we have a
king without a crown?” he says. So that one gathers some of the thorns that could be
found eveywhere and fashions them into a crude crown and they ram those thorns down
upon his head. The pain would have been terrible. The blood is now running down into
his eyes and hair.
That is scene as we see it today. And remember, Jesus was not forced into this, he
chose every part. Why did he do it? Because he loves you. Let’s look further at what he
did for you and for me. Let’s see what he gave up and what he took on as we consider
that Jesus loved us enough to beomce one of us.
First of all Jesus His equality with God. There is a passage in Phil. 2 which should
be one of the verses or texts every Christian memorizes -- it should be upon our hearts
everyday as we get up for it should be the attitude we remember throughout each day.
Paul says there Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus Who, being God
did not consider equality with God something to hang on to, but made himself nothing,
taking the nature of a servant appearing as a human.
Do you know what Paul says just before that huge statement? Each of you should
look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
What did Jesus have before he came to earth as Emmaunel, God with us? He was
God. There was no rank as if Jesus was an associate God or a vice-God. He was equal to
God in every way. But he voluntarily took a lesser position. He completely shed his role
as God and all the glory and honor that went with it. How could he do such a thing?
Because of his love for you! Because in his mind, His interests were not as imortant as
A man had his two children Helen and Teddy and they were going to the mall, he
needed to by a saw. As they drove into the parking lot they saw a truck with letters
painted on the side, Petting Zoo. Well noone liked furry little animals more than Helen
and she excitedly asked if they could go. He gladly gave them each 50 cents and let them
go and headed for the Sears store. He wasn’t there 5 minutes when up from behind him
came Helen with a very disapointed look on her face. What happened, I can’t believe you
want to look at saws more than animals, he asked. She replied, it cost 1.00 to get in so I
gave my 50 cents to Teddy.
Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.
But Jesus wasn’t giving up a short afternoons worth of fun, he gave up the glories
of heaven and of being God. That is what he gave up first to show his love for you.
Let me ask you, are you happy that you live in this country. We heard a very
moving message last Sunday by Roy Morris, entitled We Want America Back. He pointed
out all the great things that we have lost in this country mainly becasue we have allowed
them to be taken from us. And that leads me to ask, how do you think we ever got all
those freedoms to begin with? I’ll tell you how, because there were men and women who
were willing to look out for other’s interests. Listen to this
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in
untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by
the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of
the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of
Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his
home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty.
At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas
Nelson’s home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington
to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.
John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled
for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forest and
caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks
later, he died from exhaustion.
Things are backwards from that today aren’t they? We say, I will get what I need
for myself and then if there is any left over I will share that. Mother Theresa once said, If
you don’t need it, don’t give it away, it’s not a sacrifice. Have you ever bought a new
shirt or pair of pants and taken them directly to the Goodwill box? When you give to the
guy ringing the bell at the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas do you give as you are
going in or just pitch your loose change after you have bought what you wanted first?
Looking out for the interests of others.
Jesus could have said, I am going to stay in heaven and send you a blessing now
and then, but I really can’t afford to dirty my hands with you people. You’ll just have to
get by somehow on your own otherwise. But he didn’t did he. And because he looked
out for your interests instead of his own he came to earth, lived in a poor family, worked
from sunup to sundown, accepted the hateful and oh so hurtful critisms of those Pharisees,
lived without a home to call his own, and finally allowed himself to be mistreated and
nailed to a cross between two thieves. And I can’t get myself out on a Sunday night to
show my appreciation unless there is a show being put on. Looking out for the interests
Jesus gave up equality with God in Heaven to bring salvation to earth. He became
Second, Jesus gave up Eternity for Time. Max Lucado points this out and its a
thought I never had before. When Jesus came to earth he heard for the very first time as
phrase never used in heaven - He heard, “Your time is up”. Think about that. As a child
he had to leave the Temple because His time was up. As a Savior he had to die because
his time was up. Imagine what it would be like to never have to know about schedules or
appointments or calandars and suddenly have to follow the clock. To not have the stress
and anxiety of the rat race. I read once that we should remember that the one who wins
the rat race is still a rat. Think about that as you rush here and there to accomplish
everything the world tells you is so important. Jesus who knew no time gave that
wonderful luxery up so he could become one of us.
Have you ever thought about eternity? Most of us when we think of eternity think
about there being no end. That is only half of eternity. Eternity also means no beginning.
There has never been a time when Jesus wasn’t. He has always been here. Threfore he
was not bound in any way by time. No deadlines, no appointments, no worrying about the
fact that the vacation will soon be over and I’ll have to be back at work. No
bedtime(kids) or alarm clocks parents. No hurry up and get the job done so I can start all
over on it again. None of those hardships that a clock thrusts on us all.
When you think about heaven I’ll bet you don’t think much about that aspect. But
that was alot to give up wasn’t it. Someone has said, if a gull were to lift up from Lake
Michigan and fly so that its wing brushed the Sears Tower, then continue to St. Louis,
turn and fly so that its wing brushed against the arch and head back to Chicago and repeat
the flight continually, each time burshing against those too buildings, by the time that bird
had worn those buildings down to nothing, eternity would have just begun.
Do you begin to get the idea of how great and how long eternity is? Wouldn’t you
love to enjoy such an existence. I get that feeling toward the end of ever week as I begin
thinking about all the things I don’t have done for Sunday morning, including typing a
sermon. If you are like most, the week is nothing but Mondays. it never seems like the
weekends or days off last more than a moment. But in eternity there are no Mondays. I’ll
bet that alone is enough to get most of you to want to be there. Nothing will wear out.
Everyday will be like the very first day, because remember there is no beginning to eternity
either. When God says in Rev. I will make all things new, he meant everything will seem
as though it never has any age or wear and tear. Your car in heaven will smell new
Jesus gave that up so you wouldn’t have to. What will you give up for him?
Soren Kiirdegaurd, a Germon Theologin who was also a sharp critic of the church
of his day wrote a book entitled, “And I looked around and Noone was Laughing.” Here
is what he says in that book -- I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as
the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet
robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, "If any man
will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has,
give it to the poor, and follow me."
Have you done that? Have you committed everything you have to the Lord yet?
he gave up Eternity in heaven and became a slave of the clock for you. What will you give
up for him?
So Jesus gave up Equality with God and Eternity in Heaven for you. But not only
did he give up, he also took on. He also took your Evil so you could have his sinlessness.
You see, the thorns thoughout scripture symolized, not sin, but the consquences of
sin. Remember after sin entered the picture for the first time in the garden of Eden? God
cursed the land” “So I will put a curse on the ground...The ground will produce thorns
and weeds for you.” The thorns are the product of sin in the heart. That darkside we saw
last week. When God was instructing Moses and the people about ridding the promised
land of its inhabitants he says, “But if you don’t force those people out of the land, they
will bring you trouble. They will be like sharp hooks in your eyes and thorns in your side.”
The proverbs say, “Evil people’s lives are like paths covered with thorns.” Jesus when
speaking about the false prophets said, “You will know these people by what they do.
Grapes don’t come from thornbushes and figs don’t come from thorny weeds.”
So as that Roman soldier places that crown upon Jesus head, it isn’t just any kind
of crown, it is a crown a thorns. A crown which Jesus purposly chose. A crown which
reminds everyone who reads the story that upon the head of the only man that never
sinned is the symbol of all the bad that sin produces. Isaiah prophecied early that he who
knew no sin would become sin. And here it is beginning to happen.
Let me ask you this, if someone were to commit a crime and the police showed up
at your door and arrested you, took you before your family and neighbors in handcuffs,
put you in the back seat of the car and threw you in prison. If they took you to court and
tried you and found you guilty and sentenced you to life in prison, how would you feel?
Knowing that you didn’t do it, would you protest? Would you cry out about the injustice?
But that’s not all. What if you knew that they knew you were innocent, as Pilate knew
about Jesus. But they ignored the evidence. Evidence that could set you free? Would
you take it or would you do everything in your power to get free?
Jesus gave up equality with God. On the cross he suffered for the very first time
the feeling of being separated from God. Yet he didn’t quit. He gave up the perfect
setting of heaven, where noone every says an unkind word and there is always peace, to
come to a place where its every man for himself and don’t cross me or I’ll bite your head
off. Do you know that the only negative statements about last week’s concert came from
our own people? Do we even know it when we have it so good? Jesus had to endure the
crabbiness and negative attitudes of his own people, but he didn’t quit. He withstood the
beatings, the humilation and the crown of thorns when all he ever had to do was raise an
eyebrow and legions of angels would have gladl;y rescured him and destroyed this
unappreciative wordl. But he didn’t do it. He didn’t quit.
How could he do it? How could he keep his cool when mine would have run out
long before? He did it for you. He knew you needed him to and because your interests
were more important to him than his own he did it for you. Again I ask, what will you do
During his reign, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in trouble.
Wars had been costly, and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances.
He couldn’t disappoint his people, and to capitulate to the enemy was unthinkable. After
careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia to bring their jewelry of gold
and silver to be melted down for their country. For each ornament received, he determined
to exchange a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude. Each decoration
would be inscribed, "I gave gold for iron, 18l3." The response was overwhelming. Even
more important, these women prized their gifts from the king more highly than their
former jewelry. The reason, of course, is clear. The decorations were proof that they had
sacrificed for their king. Indeed, it became unfashionable to wear jewelry, and thus was
established the Order of the Iron Cross. Members wore no ornaments except a cross of
iron for all to see.
Have you come to your king yet? He gave up everything and gave it to you. Are
you willing to give anyting back? He only asks for your soul. Give your soul to him and
you will never be sorry. What we keep we lose, what we give up we gain. Don’t hold
anything back from him. You won’t get to hang on to it anyway.