Philippians 2: 7

[He] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Jesus was, and is, and always will be. He was with God at the creation of the world. He sat in the high places with God, and He was God. And yet, he emptied Himself of His deity and came to earth in the form of a bond-servant. Why?

No one less than the very Son of God was good enough for God to send into the earth for the redemption of each and every one of us. And what is amazing is that Jesus willingly gave up everything to come to this world as the sacrificial lamb. He gave up sitting on His throne in paradise to come into this broken world to fix all that was broken.

Sometimes we forget that when Jesus came here, He gave up being God to become a man. Sometimes we think that it was easy for Him to perform the miracles that He did because, “After all, He is God.” Yes, He is but he emptied Himself of all of that so that He could be the perfect sacrifice. He had to empty himself of his divinity in order to be that perfect sacrifice. He had to become a regular person in order to redeem people. He took on our form so that He could stand in our place before God. Now His perfection and His blood speak for us because He is standing before the throne in our place. When we, therefore, go to our God, we have the testimony of Jesus Christ as our garment, our robe.

Never underestimate how important you are to God or how glorious Jesus’ sacrifice was. You are God’s precious child. You were the prize Jesus desired. He was willing to sacrifice everything for you.

Greater Works

John 14: 12

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this verse. I love the idea that we can do the same things Jesus did. All the miracles, all the victory he walked in continually is available to us. Not only can we live the life of Christ but also we discover that we should. I hate that I am falling so short. Sometimes when I read this chapter of John, I want to skip over this verse.

We all know that Jesus is our example; that we are supposed to walk in the earth as he did. When it comes to his miracles, though, we usually, in humble tones, say, “Oh, but that is Jesus.” We make him the exception when it comes to the power of God in operation even though we readily admit that our lives are supposed to mirror his and that he himself has said that we should do even greater works than he.

Jesus did not live on earth as God. “Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans,” (Philippians 2: 7). Jesus’ humanity is very significant. He could not have taken humanity’s sin to the cross without being human himself. Of course, the other side of the coin is that the miracles which occurred all around him were not a result of his deity. Then he says that we should do the same and even better. That seems to be a tall order but he also told us that his leaving allowed him to send the Holy Spirit. So, Jesus exited the earth taking our sin with him and arriving in his father’s house, he sent the Spirit to us who is the power of God. Now we have the Holy Spirit with his attendant spiritual gifts so we have all we need to live a victorious life. We have miracle working power living right within us. We have all we need in order to do the works of Jesus and even greater.

In Jesus’ Shoes

Luke 2: 41 – 49         God’s Word translation

Every year Jesus’ parents would go to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When he was 12 years old, they went as usual. When the festival was over, they left for home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn’t know it. They thought that he was with the others who were traveling with them. After traveling for a day, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. Three days later, they found him in the temple courtyard. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions. His understanding and his answers stunned everyone who heard him. When his parents saw him, they were shocked. His mother asked him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been worried sick looking for you!” Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you realize that I had to be in my Father’s house?”

I know this story is long but don’t you think it is great? Jesus was incredulous at his parents’ question. How did they not know where he was? The King James version says Jesus was about his Father’s business. He was right where they should have expected to find him. You’ve just got to love that.

Do you know that we are supposed to be able to do everything that Jesus did? We are supposed to walk in this world as he did. He is our model. But wait, shall we embrace the entire truth? Jesus said that not only would we do the things he did but that we would do greater works, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” (John 14: 12). Get out! We are actually supposed to eclipse Jesus. Isn’t that what this passage says? Well that is a tall order to fill.

So here is what has been rolling around in my head this year so far. Jesus was about his Father’s business. He was almost incensed, certainly surprised that his parents didn’t know where to find him. While everyone else was eating and drinking, partying with their friends at the feast, Jesus was communing with his Father. He was hanging out in the synagogue learning and growing in wisdom. Now, I want to be like Jesus. Query: If I wish to walk in the earth as Jesus did, if I want to do the works he did, then isn’t it reasonable to speculate that I am going to have to learn and grow as he did? You see, Jesus emptied himself of his deity when he came here (Philippians 2: 7). He grew in wisdom by busying himself with his Father’s business.

I contrast my life. I am more proficient in computer games than Jesus and I watch much more television than he. If my goal is to eclipse him in computer games and TV watching, then I am on the right path. If, however, I really do wish to be like him, I think I am going to have to shift my priorities a bit. I presume Jesus had leisure time also and am not suggesting that we need to be workaholics. I am merely setting my sights for this year and attempting to determine what actions will yield the results I wish. It is pointless for me to set lofty goals if I do not proceed to break down those goals into action steps and decide if I am willing to do that which is required for the attainment of my goals. If I truly want to be like Jesus, what am I willing to do to position myself to receive the answer to this prayer? Shall I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead me and then turn a deaf ear when he tells me what things will help me?

What would you like God to do in your life this year? What is He speaking to you?

Feeding the Multitude

2 Kings 4: 42 – 44       NIV

A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

Does this story sound familiar to you? Sure it does. In Matthew 14: 13 and 15: 32 we read the accounts of two separate times when Jesus fed great multitudes of people with meager supplies. Does it surprise you that Jesus was not the first one to perform this miracle? This shows us three things: 1) there are parallels between the Old Testament and the New Testament, 2) Jesus operated in the earth as others had before him, and 3) that what Jesus said in John 14: 12 is possible.

First, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13: 8). Jesus has not changed since the beginning of time; nor has his father or the Holy Spirit. They are unchangeable. Therefore, the power, the love and the miracles that we see from Old Testament times are just as viable today as they were thousands of years ago. Further, we should not be surprised to see parallels between the two parts of the Bible when we understand the unchangeable nature of God.

Secondly, it is important for us to realize that when Jesus walked the earth he did so as a human being. Philippians 2: 7 tells us that Jesus did not come in his godly power and authority but rather that he “stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being” (Amplified Version). The Living Bible says he “laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men.” This is a very important concept for us to grasp. Many times we hear people say, “Oh, well, Jesus was God afterall” in defense of why miracles are not happening in our modern culture. But that is an inaccurate portrayal. Jesus emptied himself of his divinity and walked the earth as a human being with all the attendant frailties. He just walked with God in a way that most of us do not. Jesus’ earthly ministry proves that we can also walk and talk with God as he did because he was a man and had to interact with the world like any other human being. His deity did not explain his close union with God nor did it account for the miracles that he performed. Today’s passage is proof of that. Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes was not from his own divine power. Instead he relied on the God of Elisha to perform the exact same work that Elisha did. 

Lastly, why is this so important? When we comprehend that Jesus had to live and work like any other person it removes the complacency and doubt from our minds and hearts. If Jesus did all that he did without relying on his divinity and instead operated in his humanity then it means that we can see the same miracles today; not only see, mind you, but perform. It makes Jesus statement in John 14: 12 palatable; “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” The uncomfortable part of this is that it also removes our excuses. Jesus performed miracles by relying on the father’s power. We have the same father and His power has not diminished a jot. Not only that but Jesus has now returned to his divinity and we have him in addition to the father. And are you ready for strike three. Jesus also poured out the Holy Spirit on mankind on the Day of Pentecost. So, we have all of the power and all of the help we could ever need. We have only to wrap our minds, and hearts, around the truth and then we too can bless people with miracles of every kind.