Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Preparing for the Invasion - #4 - Jesus Descended Into Greatness

Candles, in the Church of the Nativity, Jerusalem

(In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis referred to the birth of Christ as "The Great Invasion.")

While most people are trying to move up the social honor-shame ladder and thus be upwardly mobile, the Word (God the Son) moved down when he became flesh and tabernacled (dwelt) among us. That was a move downwards. The Word exercised downward mobility. Love came down.

This act of downward mobility is called the "kenosis," after a word in Philippians 2:7. Phil. 2:5-11 expresses the entire idea.

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing (Greek kenosisἐκένωσεν ]
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

New Testament scholar Wayne Grudem writes:

"The best understanding of this passage is that it talks about Jesus giving up the status and privilege that were his in heaven. He did not "cling to his own advantage" but "emptied himself" or "humbled himself" for our sake, and came to live as a man." (Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, 240)

In John 17:5 Jesus spoke of the "glory" he had with the Father "before the world was made." In the kenosis he gave up that glory (status, privilege),  but would regain it upon his return to heaven.

I like how Paul expresses this in 2 Corinthians 8:9: -

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that though he was rich, 
yet for your sake he became poor, 
so that you through his poverty might 
become rich. 

Here we have Christ, who temporarily gave up the privilege and honor he deserved, for you and I.

Today think of the glorious status Christ gave up, for you, when he humbled himself and took on the form of humanity.

Think of Jesus descending into greatness.


The issue of what Christ emptied himself of has been a by the preexistent divine Son, whereby in "becoming human" he took the "form" of a slave - one who expressed his humanity in lowly service to others." (Grudem, 384)

See also Gordon Fee's article in Exploring Kenotic Christology: The Self-Emptying of God, ed. Stephen Evans. Fee writes:

"An orthodox biblical Christology almost certainly must embrace some form of a 'kenotic' [emptying] understanding of the Incarnation, that the One who was truly God, also in his Incarnation lived a truly human life, a life in which he grew both in stature and in wisdom and in understanding (Luke 2:52), learned obedience through what he suffered (Heb. 5:8), and who as Son of the Father did not know the day or the hour (Mark 13:32). (Grudem, p. 43)

My two books are:

I am now writing How God Changes the Human Heart, plus editing a book on the Holy Spirit which should be out in late Spring 2019.
I'm getting my act together to write Technology and Spiritual formation.
After that Linda and I intend to write our book on Relationships