Summary: Doctrine of the incarnation.
READ: Philippians 2:5-11
Last Sunday morning, in our series on “What We Believe”, we were looking together at The Fall of Man. The Bible gives a clear account of sin’s entry into the world - how through Adam mankind has become sinful and therefore cut off from a Holy God; and utterly helpless to see himself restored.
Man is not merely “disabled” by the fall - it’s not just a “set back” - human nature has become TOTALLY DEPRAVED. “The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, who can know it?” Mankind is not “SICK”; he has died spiritually! We are all born “dead in trespasses and sins”.
So, we left off last Sunday on a very low ebb didn’t we? (I hope you’ve had a good week!)
But, praise God, that’s not the end of the story. We were lost. We were undone. And WE couldn’t do anything about it. Adam and Eve were hiding in the Garden, pitifully truing to cover their guilt with fig leaves. BUT GOD comes looking for them. Is there any hope? Can anything be done to restore the relationship - to eradicate the sin?
Right from the very first, God says, “THERE IS A SOLUTION” - salvation IS possible - and He signals His intention to bring it about. He says, “There will come a seed (an offspring) of this woman, and He will crush the tempter’s head. He will deal with sin”. And then God illustrated what would need to be done. He took and animal (an innocent animal) and He killed it, and God made clothes for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness. Their own attempts at covering were useless - fig leaves were no good. God says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”. He slew an animal - He shed blood - to foreshadow what would need to be done.
When Eve bore her first son, she called his name “Cain” - which means “to acquire”/ She said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord” - I’ve got a seed - will this be the one that God promised would save us?! But Cain was a great disappointment. He was not the One.
Generation after generation followed. The promise of God was recounted from parent to child, parent to child. It was confirmed by prophets that arose. But still the earth waited. UNTIL, as Galatians 4:14 says, “When the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (there it is - He is the promised Seed), “born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law . . .”
God, as always, was as good as His Word. He sent the Saviour - but here is the shocker: IT WAS GOD HIMSELF. We believe God became man! To deal with our sin . . . God became man. It’s wonderful - “THE GIGANTIC DEITY OF ALL ETERNITY BECAME A SPECK IN A VIRGIN’S WOMB”.
When Jesus came as a baby to that cattle shed in Bethlehem:
- HE WAS EMPTIED THAT WE MIGHT BE FILLED.
- HE BECAME POOR THAT WE MIGHT BECOME RICH.
- HE RENOUNCED IMMUNITY THAT WE MIGHT KNOW SECURITY.
Let’s look at those three statements one at a time this morning.
1. HE WAS EMPTIED THAT WE MIGHT BE FILLED.
Come back with me to the passage we read at the outset . . . PHILIPPIANS 2. Let’s read vv5-8 again. [READ.]
Note those words in verse 7: “He made Himself of no reputation . . .” LITERALLY: “HIMSELF HE EMPTIED”. He was “emptied”! What does that mean? What did He “empty” Himself of?
Well, we know that it CAN’T mean that He gave up being God. (If He could give up being God, then He couldn’t have been God in the first place.) The Scriptures clearly teach that, as He walked this earth, Jesus was TRULY MAN and TRULY GOD. In Colossians 2:9 we read: “In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form”.
So, in what way die He “empty” Himself? Well, there are two things:
A.) He “VEILED” His glory. He “hid” it from view. On one occasion (at least) in Matthew 17 we read of how He took Peter, James and John up on a mountain and was transfigured in front of them. It says: “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light”, and He spoke with Moses and Elijah there. The disciples were astonished.
But that is NOT how He lived most of His life. He didn’t walk around with a “halo” over His head! He didn’t float! ISAIAH 53:2 prophesied of Him: “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” LITERALLY: “He has no stately form or splendour, and when we see Him, there is no appearance that we should desire Him”.