Advent 2016 Week 2

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11

In the season of Advent, we often celebrate the incarnation and condensation of Christ, and we are right to do so. Yet, we cannot forget the fact that Jesus has become highly exalted in the heavens and that He has the most glorious name in all of history. According to Paul, God has exalted the name of Jesus above every name, even to the point where every knee will bow even to the name of Jesus. It is right to celebrate the coming of Christ to the world, but we must also hold in tension the supreme authority in which the Son of God holds.

Abraham Kuyper, a 19th century theologian, rightly declared, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” According to the book of Colossians, Jesus not only is the creator of everything but also the sustainer of everything. All things are subservient to God and will one day bow before the glorious name of Jesus.

Personal Reflection

  • Do you resonate with the quote from Abraham Kuyper?
  • What brings you comfort knowing that Jesus has authority over all things?

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11

The Apostle Paul says that Jesus has emptied himself, even though He was in the very form of God. Some claim that Jesus was simply a good man or maybe even more reverently, a prophet of God. Yet the Bible affirms an even greater identification for Jesus: the son of God, equal with Him in all respects. Nevertheless, Jesus has emptied himself of such a status, taking on the form of a servant and coming to this world. This does not mean that Jesus ceases to be God when he took on the form of God, rather that His primary disposition was one of servanthood rather than Lordship.

This means that in a very real way, Jesus identified with all of us. As a baby, Jesus cried for milk, was in need of comfort and affection, and was genuinely helpless outside of his parents. As an adult, Jesus experienced hunger, pain, sorrow, joy, laughter, and loss. Everything that we experience in the normal course of life, Jesus experienced as well. He has identified with us in our weakness but He has also exceeded us in every respect. For where we have failed, He has succeeded; where we have sinned, he has been obedient; where we have hated, he has loved.

Personal Reflection

  • Does it bring comfort knowing that Jesus has identified with the normalcy of your life?
  • Why is it important to hold in tension the reality that Jesus was both God and man?

Familial Reflection

  • Share some of the emotions and feelings you have experienced this week. Do you believe that Jesus shared similar emotions when He was on earth?
  • Have you ever thought about Jesus living a normal, human life? How does that bring you comfort? Discomfort?

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11

When you read the birth story of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew (specifically, chapters 1-2), an overwhelming theme emerges from the story: the worship of Jesus. After the wise men travel to find the Messiah who was to be born, they arrive at Jesus’ house and immediately bow down and offer gifts of worship towards Him. Is it not strange that these men worship this new born baby born in Bethlehem? These wise men understood that Jesus was not merely a baby, but the long awaited Messiah to the world—Jesus, the son of God.

The Apostle Paul continues in this vain, stating that the person of Jesus demands our worship. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. What the wise men did in their worship is what the rest of creation will do because Jesus is to be gloriously worshipped. As we reflect upon the Incarnation of Christ, will you join me in a posture of worship to Jesus, the long awaited Messiah? Will you worship him as the wise men have done?

Personal Reflection

  • What is the general theme of your life? Is the disposition of your life marked by worship of God or other things?
  • How can you cultivate a heart of worship toward Jesus in this season?

Familial Reflection

  • What does it mean to worship? Do we sometimes worship things that are not God?
  • Spend some time confessing as a family your lack of worship towards Jesus and then spend time worshipping Jesus for what He has done through prayer.

 

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11

It is really difficult to serve those that we do not love. It is hard for us to stomach the idea of laying down our preferences and desires for the good of another when our heart is full of hate towards another. Paul is calling us to model our lives after Jesus, who has come and served us. The foundation of our service towards others must be genuine love for that other person. When love is the motivator of our service towards others, we will actually seek their good, instead of serving them for our good.

The only way to actually, genuinely love others is through reflecting upon the love of God in Christ. Jesus has come to us even though we were his enemies. He comes to us in love and serves us in love. He genuinely sought our good, which was reconciliation with himself. Do you feel a lack of love and service towards others? Look to Jesus, who has loved and served you perfectly. Look to Jesus, who has loved you even when you were unlovely. Look to Jesus.

Personal Reflection

  • Is your life typified by genuine love towards others? Why not?
  • What inhibits your ability to love others? How does the Gospel provide a remedy for your hard heart towards others?

Familial Reflection

  • Why is it so hard to love others? How do we do as a family loving others?
  • Spend some time together as a family praying and thanking God for His love for you in Christ.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45

According to Mark 10:45, Jesus came to serve in order that He may give his life as a ransom for the many; Jesus serves us by becoming a ransom for us. Why is this important? In the original language of Greek, the term ransom can mean “a payment to release someone from some kind of bondage.” This means that Jesus’ service of us is not limited to his incarnation but also surely extends to his death and resurrection. The implication is that Jesus sees his work (incarnation, death, resurrection) as a ransom to release us from a particular type of bondage. He is paying for us what we are unable to pay—we are held captive to this bondage. We are enslaved to the bondage of sin and are left completely helpless to release ourselves.

One of the most fundamental words in this passage is “for.” Since we are unable to release ourselves from the bondage of sin, someone must release us (i.e. ransom us). Jesus gives us his as a ransom for us, meaning that His life serves as the payment for our ransom. We owed a debt because our bondage to sin and Jesus fully fulfills that debt through His work. Our lives were destitute, yet Jesus intervened and substituted himself in our place.

Personal Reflection

  • Why is it so important that Jesus had died for you?
  • Why is the message of Christianity more than mere ethical teaching?

Familial Reflection

  • Have you ever had to buy something important? How does that idea of buying an item relate to Jesus “purchasing” us?
  • How should we live towards one another knowing that Jesus has died for us?

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45

Every Advent season, the church gets the opportunity to reflect on Christ’s incarnation. It leads us to ask, “Why did Jesus come? What was his intention in coming?” The Gospel of Mark answers that in a simple phrase: Jesus came not to be served but to serve. In other words, Jesus came as a servant and to serve us in our deepest need. The Book of Isaiah surely prophecies about this coming Messiah who will serve us in our greatest need.

The prophet Isaiah has recorded that Jesus would be a Suffering Servant who would bear our griefs, carry our sorrows, be afflicted in our place, and be crushed for our iniquities. All of us have gone astray, we wander away from God. Yet the servanthood of Jesus brings us ever near to the throne of God through His death and resurrection. In this season, will you allow the Son of Man to serve you? Will you recognize your need to be served?

Personal Reflection

  • What is difficult in allowing people to serve you? Is the same true in Jesus?
  • Since we are called to follow Jesus in being a servant, how can you tangibly serve those around you this Advent season?

Familial Reflection

  • Why is it so important that Jesus came to serve us?
  • What does it say about God’s care for us that Jesus came to serve us
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