Incarnation: Christ Became man

Philippians 2:1-11

December 13, 2009

Jerry A Collins




v How was Jesus made in the likeness of man?

v How did Jesus appear as a man on earth?

v How did Jesus ID as a man impact the way we live?


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. Jesus modeled this difference-making in His incarnation. He did it by means of downward mobility. Wrung by wrung Jesus descended into greatness. He climbed down the ladder of power, of position, of glory, of authority, until He reached the bottom wrung, the womb of Mary and came to live among sinners. At Christmas, God sent His Son in the likeness of men and the perspective He had while He lived here is an example for us to follow. We, as believers, are called to unity thru humility 1-4. And this humility is ultimately defined by the example of Christ emptying Himself. In other words, the way we are united in spirit, of the same mind, and same love, intent on one purpose is with humility. But what is that? The incarnation of Jesus defines it for us.


Here we have a general command, which is applied in the area of Christ’s humility. The word for ‘attitude’ is the same use in vs 2 ‘same mind’ and ‘intent purpose’. Each of these words mean ‘to be wise’ or ‘to think or understand’. The general command then, is to have the wisdom—thinking, and understanding—of Christ. This is the attitude we are to have—the one which Christ had. This is the standard at the judgment seat of Christ that all of us will be measured against. We are going to learn exactly what that standard is in detail but it is that perspective which Jesus Christ had that we must focus upon. In one way or another we all have wealth and so we all need a biblical understanding of our money. Since we all have wealth the problem is not having it but what we are doing with it. The Bible warns us against living in luxury. But that may be different for everyone. Extremely wealthy people seem to have a different standard of luxury than say, you or me. But God does not have more than one standard for us. Each of us will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ by the life Jesus lived on earth. In all areas of our lives our judgment when we stand before Christ will not differ for each of us but is measured by the example, thinking, understanding and wisdom of Jesus Christ. So now every decision we make about our wealth takes on eternal perspective. But what is this practically?


Here we have four statements that describe the humility of Christ as our model. Each of these are the result of His incarnation.

1. Empty ourselves of authority 6

Equality with God was not something Jesus considered grasping at or pursuing in His incarnation. The reason is because He already was God even while He was living in the flesh here on the earth. This is the basic understanding of scripture as in John 1:1; 17:5; Heb 1:8. So the issue is not His actually equality with God but rather that He did not consider grasping for it, for instance, as Satan did (Isa 14:14) or as many of the leaders of this world are doing (Acts 12:21-23), or what the eastern world religions say we can do. The purpose of Jesus’ life on earth was not to grasp for equality with God but to demonstrate the quality God is looking of in the perfect man—humility (Isa 66:2; Micah 6:8). Jn 1:18 tells us that Jesus did not become a man to pursue being God—he already was—but He lived with us on earth to explain God and He did this by emptying Himself. When He emptied Himself He relinquished his rights by voluntarily giving up the use of certain divine attributes that would manifest His eternal power and glory. He did not give up or get rid of these or He would no longer be God. The authority of His position and Person was relinquished while on earth.

2. Take the form of a slave 7

Notice the contrast. He was the form of God in terms of the inner attributes He possessed as God and now He would also be in the form of man, a bond-servant in His outer form. On the one hand He loosened His grip on His heavenly privileges and added to Himself the likeness of man in the form of a bond-servant acting like any common person. It is interesting that He did not take on the likeness of a CEO, or President, or Chairman, or General, or employer, but that of a servant. He did this as an example for us of the kind of position we too must pursue. It is not about asserting our rites but pursuing a servant bonded to God and a slave of those we serve. It is about making ourselves no more than a common person. Another wrung in the ladder of downward mobility.

3. Be obedient to God until the point of your death 8

Jesus death is qualified as a death ‘on a cross’. It was a torturous and humiliating death as a criminal. Gal 3:13 says that He died as one cursed. So Jesus was not into preserving His reputation or trying to look acceptable to people. Jesus lived for an audience of One and that was His Father. So we should be preoccupied with How the Father thinks of us. And we should be preoccupied with that all the way to the grave! That is the example Jesus left for us. That is the standard by which our lives will be measured. Jesus did not keep His distance to make an impression but He came real close up—in the flesh—to make an impact. He pursued downward mobility to obey the Father and the benefit for us was the cross. He went that far and claimed ‘it is finished’. So lets finish well. Finishing well is significant because generally life gets harder as we get older. First, we begin reaping what we have sowed. Our sins begin to catch up with us. Second, as we live in this fallen world the sins of others increasingly affect us. People sue us or we have accidents, or close relatives mess up their lives. Third, life gets harder as we get older simply because of deteriorating health in a deteriorating world. Things we have done to make life pleasant are gradually taken away by fact of our aging over time.


1. Jesus humility in incarnation results in exultation from God. In God’s economy humility and not pride is the basis of His favor. But for Jesus unique humbling God is going to put Him over absolutely everything and everybody 9.

2. Every knee shall bow to Christ. First, those in heaven including saints who have died, angels, and the living creatures around the throne Rev 4:6-8. Second, those on the earth probably during the 1000 reign of Christ on the earth Rev 20. Third, those under the earth possibly those in hades or outer darkness but it includes all unbelievers. So it is not worship or adoration they will give but a forced homage to a king.

3. The whole creation of spiritual beings, believers in Him and haters of Him, will confess or admit that Jesus is Lord. And the end of all righteousness is the glory of God the Father. The word usually in context of advertising. So the final state of things is when all are confessing the Lordship of Christ ultimately making known the character of God!

A. God is personally invested into His creation and wants us to relate to Him.

B. Jesus life is manifested for our own good and opportunity to please God.