Jesus Actions Speak Louder Than His Words
Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross. (NLT)
This message was preached December 14, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at ToulonBaptist.com
Have you ever heard anyone say, "he says one thing and does another?" Of course we all have. I have discovered in life that unless what we say agrees with what we do, our speech will not have much affect. But Jesus not only taught some very difficult things, He lived a very difficult life. Difficult in the sense of what He did and impossible for us to follow.
Foe even if we could do the right things, I am afraid we would probably do them for the wrong reasons. We would always be looking to see if anyone was watching so we could get our pat on the back. Or we would be always keeping a tally so that we could cash in later. But Jesus lived as He taught for it was His very nature, the nature of God.
What did this Jesus do for us, so that He might bring us to Himself.
- Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.
- He was God
- The preincarnate Christ already possessed equality with the Father and resolved not to cling to it. Expositor's Bible Commentary
- He who fashioned the stars in the palm of His hands and spun the galaxies with a twist of a wrist.
- The One who fashioned all the beauty we see and set in place the laws by which all things are governed.
- He who thought of all we see and set it up with a word, the word of His power.
- He who was adorned by angels continually in heaven.
- He who enjoyed the splendor due only to the Lord of all.
- From eternity He had enjoyed the glory which He and God the Father shared.
- He did not demand His rights as God
- God demanded all that used His name in vain to be put to death, but Jesus allowed them to mock Him to His face.
- Although God demanded total submission and obedience yet Jesus allowed the people of that day to nail Him to a cross all the while they cursed and shamed Him.
- Although no one could see God's face and live yet He allowed the common people to spit in His face.
- He made himself nothing;
- He emptied Himself
- He did not cease to be God.
- It does not tell us what He emptied Himself.
- He laid aside the rights and privileges of God and lived without as a man without the advantage of Godhead.
- Although He was the source of all power yet never did He use it for Himself.
- Although He could control the hearts of men as He controlled the sea and wind, yet He never did for His own advantage over other men.
- -- Saint Augustine of Hippo, 354-430. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 14.
- Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun. In the Father he remains, From his mother he goes forth. Creator of heaven and earth, He was born on earth under heaven. Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless. Filling the world, He lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, He nurses at his mother's bosom. He is both great in the nature of God, and small in the form of a servant.
- The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation. -- J.I. Packer, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 6.
- He took the humble position
- A slave
- The one who was existing in the form of God took on the form of a servant. The word "taking" (labon) does not imply an exchange, but rather an addition. The "form of God" could not be relinquished, for God cannot cease to be God; but our Lord could and did take on the very form of a lowly servant when he entered human life by the Incarnation. Expositor's Bible Commentary
- Not only did He come as a human but as a servant of humans.
- Not taking the position of king as He was but a serf without rights or even personhood.
- Appeared in human form.
- In summation, Christ did not empty himself of the form of God (i.e., his deity), but of the manner of existence as equal to God. He did not lay aside the divine attributes, but "the insignia of majesty" (Lightfoot, p. 112). Expositor's Bible Commentary
- The one who spanned eternity as a second put on skin, the frailty of human flesh.
- In the same way that Jesus was all that God was only in bodily form, He was also as human as we are.
- Although He could never not be God, when He came to earth He laid aside all those privileges of place.
- On March 5, 1994, Deputy Sheriff Lloyd Prescott was teaching a class for police officers in the Salt Lake City Library. As he stepped into the hallway he noticed a gunman herding 18 hostages into the next room. With a flash of insight, Prescott (dressed in street clothes) joined the group as the nineteenth hostage, followed them into the room, and shut the door. But when the gunman announced the order in which hostages would be executed, Prescott identified himself as a cop. In the scuffle that followed, Prescott, in self-defense, fatally shot the armed man. The hostages were released unharmed. God dressed himself in street clothes and entered our world, joining us who are held hostage to sin. On the cross Jesus defeated Satan and set us free from the power of sin. -- Greg Asimakoupoulos, Concord, California. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.
- He obediently humbled himself even further
- And in human form
- John Howard Griffin was a white man who believed he could never understand the plight of African-Americans unless he became like one. In 1959, he darkened his skin with medication, sun lamps, and stains, then traveled throughout the South. His book, Black Like Me, helped whites better understand the humiliation and discrimination faced daily by people of color. Jesus Christ became like us; the Incarnation is evidence that God understands our plight. "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" (Isa. 53:3). -- Tom Moorhouse, Roy, Utah. Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 2.
- By dying on a cross
- A criminal's death
- Even this was great condescension for one who possessed the form of God, but Christ's incomparable act did not end here. He further humbled himself by "becoming obedient to death." He was so committed to the Father's plan that he obeyed it even as far as death (Heb 5:8). Nor was this all, for it was no ordinary death, but the disgraceful death by crucifixion, a death not allowed for Roman citizens, and to Jews indicative of the curse of God (Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13).
- Although He is greater than the sum of all His creation, yet He became as a created being.
- Although all His creatures together could not deter Him, yet He has limited Himself by rebellious man.
- He has let Himself open to ridicule in order to redeem us and bring us back.
- In Bucharest, Romania, there is a Heroes Cemetery. Those who died in the short revolution of December, 1989, that overthrew the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, are buried there. Some of them were accidental heroes. They were simply in the crowd when the police opened fire. But Christ was no accidental hero. He came into the world knowing the cross awaited him, and he went to it by his own choice. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
The conclusion of the whole matter is found the verse before we began reading. "Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.." One thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. -- Albert Schweitzer, missionary doctor, 1875-1965. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2.
If we could come to that point Christmas would take on a totally different scene. No longer would Christmas be about us. It would be about the babe in a manger.