Creed: Why Jesus Came
- Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Have you ever been asked, “If you could invite three people to dinner—alive or dead—who would they be?” It’s not unusual for Christians to answer: Billy Graham, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus, (of course). The question is then followed with, “What question or questions would you ask them/him once seated and the meal has begun?”
This is how I would answer that: “Dr. Graham, what is the every day life like for you?” “Paul, how did you truly feel when you returned to Jerusalem and the disciples were afraid of you?” and “My Lord, why did you have to die like that? Couldn’t there have been another way?”
Was it a Communication Mission?
Why did Jesus come? Was it merely to connect with His human creation and to have them to connect with Him? We see evidences of God having come to earth throughout the Old Testament, communing with those He loved.
He communed with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He talked/rebuked Cain personally after he’d killed his brother, Abel. In one of the most beautiful moments of the Bible (at least in my way of seeing things), He waited by a spring of water in the desert as Hagar ran from the abuses of her mistress, Sarai. He spoke to Abraham, moved in glory and power before Moses, stood strong before Joshua, whispered in the ear of Elijah. The list goes on and on. If God merely wanted to commune with His children, He had only to show up.
But Jesus left the glories of Heaven with an agenda.
As the Nicene Creed puts it: who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven.
The Role of a Servant
Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28 NIV)
When Jesus came, He left kingly attitudes behind. He was born poor among stables animals. He was raised in the lowly Galilee. He worked as a young man in a carpenter’s trade, doing manual labor. Those who knew Him best knew he was the Son of God, Messiah. Yet, for their sake and as an example, He humbled Himself in the Upper Room by stripping out of his clothes and washing their feet, thereby taking on the role of a servant.
He said to them, “You call me [the] Teacher and [the] Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things; you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:13-17)
Jesus, God Incarnate (in the flesh), gave the example by which we are to live, not only with the washing of feet, but in His coming in the first place and in His dying.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
He said to them, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (vs. 17) What things were they/we to know?
That no servant is greater than his master
That no messenger greater than the one who sent him
But what is the “doing” in these two statements of facts? The doing is in the humbling ourselves enough to demonstrate Christ’s love by serving one another. If Christ were willing to both wash feet and later die sacrificially, then we should be willing to take this role ourselves.
How Normal Is This?
As a Christian author and speaker, I am often surrounded by those within the same ministry. Each year I attend an international convention that brings “us folks” out of the woodwork by the droves. And each year it is my privilege to see people well respected humbling themselves before the Lord in their ministries and in the way they respond to others.
But I also see the opposite. And it saddens me greatly. Those who have “done well” taking on the squared shoulders, nose slightly tilted attitude.
Now, I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m just calling it as I see it. And I wonder if this fulfills Christ’s commandment to us in John 13?
Paul Was Chained to a Dead Man
It is common in the “speaker” world (those of us who travel to speak at various churches, etc) to be invited (or encouraged) to stay within the homes of church families. It saves the hosting venue money and allows the speaker to interact on a more personal basis with the members of that family. Some speakers, such as myself, love this. Others would rather be in the quiet/solitude of a hotel room.
I often tell a funny story of the time, while speaking at a hosting church, I was asked to stay with a family and agreed to do so. The family was warm and loving. When they picked me up from the airport and took me out to lunch I found them to be charming and amusing. Once we arrived at their home, however, I discovered that “housekeeping” was not at the top of the family’s priority list. They seemed oblivious to the mess, while I—Mrs. Everything-Has-A-Place-And-Everything-In-Its-Place—nearly hyperventilated.
The first night there, as I lay on unwashed sheets (No, I’m not making this up!) I began repeating to myself, “Paul was chained to a dead man…Paul was chained to a dead man.” I began to praise God for being in a home at all, for experiencing the love of this family, and for the joy and honor of ministering in Jesus’ name in the first place.
I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but to make a point. Jesus said we would be blessed (filled with joy!) if we remembered “these things.” Whether we are writers, speakers, musicians, or the sweeper at the local A & P, we are to remain humble and servant-like. We are to remember what Christ did for us—leaving behind His home in Heaven and His being with the Father—to come to be with us with an express purpose: to save us from our own sins and for ultimate destruction.
While We Were Still Sinners
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
More lovely still is that the faultless Christ did not come because mankind had reached a level of perfection, but rather in our imperfection He saw fit to bring us back to Himself.
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