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Monday-More than Appearances

 

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

 

Philippians 2:8

 

We do lots of things for appearances. We wash the car and paint the house for appearances. We wear certain kinds of clothes and shoes, all for appearance's sake. Some of us spend lots of time, energy, and money on our hair – and all for appearances. And even though some of us have less to be concerned with in this particular area of life, we all think about and do things just for appearances.

 

When Jesus came to earth, he didn’t do it for appearances. He wasn’t concerned that he be seen as a great military leader, ready to lead a rebellion against Rome. He didn’t need to be thought of as the head of a great religious movement. But he did come with a purpose in how people saw him.

 

When people looked at Jesus, they only saw him from the outside. How he appeared. He looked and sounded just like anyone else. His voice didn’t sound like thunder. He didn’t fly from place to place. He looked just like everyone else. One head. Two arms and legs.

 

He looked, sounded, moved, spoke, and walked just like any ordinary person. He got tired and slept. He ate and drank. He saw with his eyes and heard with his ears. He touched with his hands and spoke with his voice.

 

And how did he use his body? For what purpose did he use his manhood? His physical form? It was to be a servant. A servant to God. A servant to the people around him. He used his life for others.

 

At the end of his life, he did an incredible thing. The final use for his body was to be crucified on a cross. He gave his life freely as the once and for all payment for all our sins. He poured out his life for you and me.

 

Jesus didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t try and keep anything in reserve. He spent everything he had and all that he was for you and me. After crucifying Jesus, they took his only possession, his clothes [1]. When he died, there was nothing left in a retirement account. No property. No stocks. No family keepsakes. Nothing.

 

He didn’t keep anything even to stay alive. He didn’t try and save his strength to live any longer. His physical body was totally spent. He was so close to death that they had to grab someone from the crowd to carry his cross[2]. He shed all his blood on the cross[3].

 

All of this he did to humble himself. And what was the point of his humility? Was it to show off that he was more humble than anyone else? No. He brought himself low so that he could obey the Father’s will by dying. But Jesus’ death was unique in all of history. Life wasn’t taken from him. He gave it up. We see two different ways that Jesus ended his life.

 

  • First – no one took Jesus’ life; he gave it up on his own initiative. He laid down his life[4].

  • Second – at the end, his life wasn’t taken from Jesus. He gave up his spirit from his body[5].

 

Yes, Jesus came to die[6]. The prophecies about his death are very vivid, they hold nothing back[7]. If we’re honest with ourselves, I’d bet my last dollar that we’ve all thought about an easy way to die. How we’d like to go peacefully in our sleep. Run over by a truck that we didn’t see coming. Or have a massive blood clot where we’re here one moment and gone the next. Nobody wants to drown. And we certainly don’t look forward to a long, drawn-out, slow death from cancer.

 

But of all the different ways to die, crucifixion has got to be the worst. Physically, it could last for days and days. You either bled to death or died from thirst and exposure. And all the while, people threw insults at you. It was no accident that people were hung in public. They were a living, breathing, brutal warning not to mess with the power or people in charge. The old hymn says it so well.

 

What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss

to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,

Christ laid aside his crown for my soul[8].

 

Why in the world would anyone come to die in that way? There’s only one reason – he loved us. Jesus’ love was so great that he was willing to give up his life in that cruelest of ways. The Father’s love was so great that he was willing to be separated from the Son while he took our sins on himself[9]. How can we give God anything less that everything we have in response to his love?

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • How do appearances change the way we act and speak? Why?

  • Explain why being truly humble is easy or hard for you.

  • Why was Jesus being humble important for him? For us?


[1] Mark 15:24

[2] Luke 23:26

[3] John 19:34

[4] John 10:18

[5] Matthew 27:50, John 19:30

[6] Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45

[7] Psalm 22:12-18, Zachariah 12:10

[8] What Wondrous Love Is This, Anonymous

[9] Matthew 27:46

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