Incarnation, God Revealed in Human Form Part 2

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Blog | No Comments

IMG_5985“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God,did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.” [1]

In my last Blog post we defined God and saw briefly that there are essential elements that constitute an all supreme being and removing any of these would render this deity God no more. So, what do we see happening in the narrative? Is it God “empting” himself and becoming man…only?

What I think we need to understand first is our perspective can limit our understanding, let me illustrate. This story might help; it comes from commentator James Boice’s experience while vacationing near the Mediterranean Sea, being guided through the great temple of Luxor erected by Amenophis III. [2]

On top of one of the tall columns of this temple was a small house, and we were curious about how it got there. The guide explained that during the last century, before the excavations at Luxor were begun, the area on which we were standing was covered with sand. One local farmer tried to find a solid foundation for his home and scratched about in the sand to find some bedrock on which to build. In time he came upon a smooth surface, and erected his home here. In the desert where the wind in constantly blowing and where the sand shifts according to the air currents, anything permanent will cause the sand to shift away form it. As the sand drifted away from his cottage the farmer discovered that his house was actually built on a piece of hand carved stone, presumably from an ancient temple. It was only after the excavations had begun that the farmer realized that the stone was a standing column, and after the excavations were completed he found that his house was nearly eighty feet above ground level.[3]

I think this draws a great parallel on the way that most of us have or possibly still do view our relationship to Christianity and Jesus in particular. Many people claim that there lives are built on the firm foundation of Jesus but their understanding is quite limited. Much like this farmer who knew very little of the foundation his home, what it was built upon. This is why I want us look at some of the foundational doctrines, like the incarnation, to deepen our understanding and grow our knowledge of our faith and in turn strengthen our relationship to our amazing God. And in the same respect my skeptic friends, I challenge your understanding of classical Christianity, is your knowledge just scratching the surface?
Now that I have hopefully challenged our depth of our understanding lets take a look at another aspect of our text on the incarnation. God’s nature demands all his necessary attributes so when we read, “Who, existing in the form of God,” we can trust this to be true. The Greek word morphe, translated “form” as stated by Boice, “…points both outward to the shape of an object and inward to ask about things that cannot be detected on the surface.”[4] Inside and out he was GOD. Another interesting point can be made in the word “equal” its the Greek word isos, we get our words; isomer, isomorph and isometric from it. According to the Cambridge Dictionary an isomer is: any one of a group of chemical substances which all have the same number and type of atoms but in which the arrangement of the atoms is slightly different between each substance.[5] The word is also in a plural form, referring to more than on persons. This seems to be more confirmation of the Complex Unity or Tri-Unity of God. “…Did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage,” this phrase can also be translated, “harpagmos” to be grasped or retain by force.[6] Although Jesus was surely God and did not stop being the second person of the trinity but rather his attitude toward his deity was that the privileges of glory would need to be temporally untouched.

As you can see there is a well-defined description unfolding in front of us one of Jesus becoming man. Retaining his deity and oneness with the Father yet not demanding all the advantages that it might otherwise dictate. The incarnation although it will ultimately still retain much mystery can be understood with out contradiction… more to come.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Php 2:5–8.

[2] James Montgomery Boice; Philippians; An Expositional Commentary; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; 1971; Pg. 114-115

[3] Ibid

[4] James Montgomery Boice; Philippians; An Expositional Commentary; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; 1971; Pg. 115

[5] Cambridge Dictionary Online; http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/american-english/isomer; Accessed 12/13/14

[6] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Php. 2:6.