The Difference He Makes: Jesus I Never Knew Sermon - Week 5

Philippians 2:5-8 GW Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (6) Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality. (7) Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance. (8) He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross.

2Corinthians 5:21 NASB He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The Road Less Traveled was a landmark book in modern psychotherapy. Author Scott Peck, notes that he came to read the Bible from a very skeptical nature, one many of you here know well. But he says that when he began reading about Jesus, everything changed. He notes that if the writers were trying to do a PR job on Jesus, then their work could go on “failblog.” Instead, he found a very real, very lonely, and even anxious. He writes, “I discovered a man so incredibly real that no one could make him up.

What difference does Jesus make? I think it starts with the questions we ask and how willing we are to really ask them and follow where the questions may lead. The last few weeks, we've explored some of those elements. But the truth is we often end up with more questions.

Philip Yancey concludes his book, “The Jesus I Never Knew” with a set of impression. I won't address them all but three seem to stand out for me. They are impressions that in recent times I have come to see more clearly, clearly enough to see that the more I see, the more questions Jesus may raise for me.

The God-Man.
There is something disturbing to me in that people so quickly dismiss Christianity without ever considering who God presents himself to be in Jesus Christ. When considering the actual arguments about Christianity, the biggest point God makes is often left out. It would have been easier to get a set of ideas. We got God himself instead.

Could the disciples have created this image of Jesus to fulfill their own gain? Only if we view this from a 21st century mindset in the US of A. They were inept as disciples and struggled themselves to identify Jesus as God incarnate themselves. The Jewish leaders clearly understood the claims Jesus made about himself and so did Pilate, the Roman Governor. God had come as a human and became a sinless friend of sinners.

Portrait of Humanity.
Yancey writes, “A man gets drunk. A woman has an affair. A child tortures an animal. A nation goes to war: that's just human. Jesus put a stop to that (270).” Verse 7: “Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance.”

This is the heart of redemption – going back to the beginning – Jesus showed in his life what humanity was intended to be like and what we still have the hope to become. And it was a unique incredible experience unlike anything ever expressed by any other religion.

By becoming human, God came to know the human experience we all live: Heb 4:15-16 NASB For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (16) Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Portrait of God.
George Buttrick, was the chaplain of Harvard. It was fairly common he said, for students to come into his office, sit down and say, “I don't believe in God.” Buttrick's response went something like this, “Tell me what kind of God you don't believe in. I probably don't believe in that God either.”

Theology most often defines God by what he is not – Invisible means he is NOT visible – Immortal means he is NOT mortal and so on. Jesus answers the question then – He IS the replica of God in front of us. “Jesus,” Yancey writes, “introduced profound changes in how we view God. Mainly, he brought God near.”


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