God Came Near In The Likeness Of Men

Philippians 2:5-8

Jerry A Collins

December 9, 2001


v How was Jesus made in the likeness of man?

How did Jesus appear as a man on earth?

What was the purpose of Jesus identity as a man?

It is true that we can usually make an impression on others at a distance. Far enough away to still be aloof but have power over others. You can only make an impact when you are close up. Sharing experience and relationship together. Impression-making is shallow while impacting another thru close relational contact is deep, abiding and life-changing. God chose to get close-up to His creation so that He could make a life-changing impact in their lives. I am so glad that God has been in the impact making business. He chose to get close-up to us at Christmas when He sent His Son in the likeness of men. His purpose was to make an impact in our lives and world that would last into eternity.


A. Jesus Emptied Himself 2:7

This word means that Jesus divested Himself of something when He came in the likeness of men. We know it cannot mean He divested Himself of deity because He repeatedly asserted His divine knowledge, performed numerous miracles, frequently healed people, raised the dead while here on the earth. However, several things did happen when Jesus was made in the likeness of men at His birth.

(1) In some manner His divine glory was veiled though not surrendered (Jn 1:14; 17:5). Every once in awhile it could not help but show up (Baptism, Transfiguration, Resurrection).

(2) Willingly left all wealth of heaven to take on human poverty (2 Cor 8:9).

(3) He added human flesh subject to weakness, pain, temptation and limitation. He felt all of these in His flesh. He also added a human nature by which He entered human experience without sin. He was subject to all that makes human existence, human short of sinning.

(4) He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of creation and glory. He could have made His way much easier by asserting His divine nature but instead He wearied, He traveled from one point to another, He hungered, He wept, He grew in wisdom and stature. His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence could have overcome all of this but He chose not to. Tho He submitted their use to identify with us He could never surrender them since they are inherently His nature.

The real Jesus would not have been very appealing to us. There was nothing that would make us want Him (Isaiah 53:1-5). He would have never had a large following.

B. Jesus took on the form of a servant 2:7

Jesus gave up His heavenly glory and took on human flesh to become a homeless person and serve us! So He emptied Himself by taking something to Himself, namely the manner, nature and form of a servant or slave. He took on the form, manner and life of a servant while at the same time He retained the form of God. 100% God and 100% man, both a divine and human nature existing within one person at the same time. He added full humanity to Himself without losing any of His deity. This transformation is what the birth at Christmas is all about. God did not swoop down and survey the human situation at a distance to make some kind of impression, at a safe distance. He emptied Himself, Her laid aside His celestial robes to put on simple clothes of a house slave. Divinity and dust existing together. Henry David Thoreau once spent a whole day in Walden Pond up to his neck in water. He wanted to experience the world as a frog sees it. He shared that experience but not the reality. He never became a frog! Jesus fully identified with us by coming in our likeness completely. And even more than that, He came a servant and a servant of servants at that. One writer reminds us that He came So poor that he was constantly borrowing a place for his birth, a house to sleep in, a boat to preach in, an animal to ride on, a room where he could meet with his friends privately, a fishes mouth to pay His taxes, and finally a tomb to be buried in. This is why Christmas is more about giving than it is receiving!


A. He had a human birth

We know that He was born of a woman. It is called a ‘virgin’ birth meaning that the human body and nature Jesus created and received was separate from sin since 2 Cor 5:21 says He knew no sin. 1n Jn 3:5 declares in Him there is no sin. So whenever we are keeping in step with our new nature John declares that we cannot sin.

B. He had human development

Luke 2:40 says He continued to grow and become strong. He regularly attended synagogues, visits the Temple, studies the scripture Luke 4:17. Luke 2:52 says he kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. We know very little of Jesus childhood. We only have a handful of incidents of His infancy and youth.

C. He possessed essential characteristics of human nature

This included a real human body of flesh and blood but also the ability to reason, act and express emotion. He had a soul and spirit. Matt 26:38 My soul is deeply grieved. Mark 2:8 Jesus perceiving in His spirit or Father into your hands I commit my spirit Luke 23:46. He had a full human nature but not a sinful one! Fully Human.

D. He suffered and died

The coming in the likeness of men included His death. And it was the most cruel and despicable form of death--even death on a cross vs 8. Jesus died as a common criminal. But even as the crucified Christ He is the image of the invisible God at the same time and so someone has written--God is not greater than He is in this humiliation. God is not more glorious than He is in this self-surrender. God is not more powerful than he is in this helplessness. God is not more divine than He is in this humanity. It is thru His sufferings that He knows us and is one with us. It is thru His death that we may be reunited with God. It is only in Jesus coming in the likeness of men, that we can understand that thru the suffering and death of Jesus Christ that we can be redeemed. Jesus came to willingly participate in all those things that we try to avoid. Humiliation, servanthood, suffering and death! But Jesus experienced them all and has conquered our greatest fears! He came in the likeness of men so that we could know God and so God could know us! He is the author and pioneer of our salvation. We now must share in His humiliation, servanthood, suffering and death.