Liturgy of the Passion
April 1, 2007
God’s Model For Manhood
Jesus was tough and tender, compassionate and committed, beautiful and bold. He was a man’s man. He is the prototype – God’s model for manhood. Like any great man, we want to trace the path that led to his greatness. If we were to trace the steps of Jesus, his path to real manhood, what would we discover?
The summation of His story is told by Paul in Philippians 2:5-11. This passage, probably an early Christian hymn, is one of the most important Christological statements in the New Testament. Paul is not writing to define Christological doctrine, but rather to stimulate and encourage the Philippian Christians by Christ’s example of humility and self-giving. The footprints that are left behind leave telltale signs into the manhood of Jesus.
Glorification: A real man doesn’t demand his own rights (v. 6).
Jesus was not just a resemblance of God; he was God. He was God in his nature, essence, and being. Jesus inwardly possessed the divine nature and outwardly displayed the divine glory. The fact is Jesus did not have to grasp equality with God nor God’s glory even though it was rightfully his.
Incarnation: A real man has a serving attitude (v. 7).
Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth. He “made himself nothing” or “emptied himself” (RSV). He laid aside his rank, prestige, and dignity. He assumed a more humble position and role than he deserved. He came to serve. He did not look primarily to his interests. He placed God’s agenda over his personal comfort.
Humiliation: A real man sees himself as he really is (v. 8).
The words “being found in appearance as a man” describe Christ’s true manhood. His contemporaries recognized Him as a human being. While He had no reason for such humility, He chose to humble Himself. Instead of commanding and ruling power and majesty, He allowed Himself to be humiliated and abused. His place was not one of honor, authority, and preeminence among people.
Crucifixion: A real man dies to his own desires (v. 8).
Jesus sacrificed His life for us. He voluntarily submitted to death. Although he prayed for the cup to be taken away in Gethsemane, he willingly went to Golgotha. In love he bore our sins that we might be acquitted. He endured the agony of the most painful, and most dehumanizing, form of death known to man. At the crucifixion, Christ reached the lowest level a human being could reach. With Jesus’ death, our Savior’s downward descent was complete.
The story turns on the word therefore in verse 9. “Therefore” is a hinge word. It reminds us of something past, but invites us to open the door to something ahead.
Resurrection: A real man can’t be kept down (v. 9).
The pendulum now begins its upward swing. The ascent starts. Somewhere in Jerusalem is an empty tomb. It was vacated shortly after its occupation! The resurrection of Jesus is the sign of his victory over sin, Satan, and death. It is the cornerstone of Christianity and the foundation of our faith.
Ascension: A real man rises above his problems.
The apostle Paul used an economy of words in his Philippians 2 narrative. Resurrection and ascension are merged into the one word exaltation. After Jesus had given His final instructions to his followers “he was taken up before their very eyes” (Acts 1:9 NIV). The Christ who was denied, betrayed, rejected, and crucified is now the exalted Lord.
Glorification: A real man has a name that is worthy of respect (vv. 9-10).
Once again Jesus was exalted to His rightful position with the Father – to the pinnacle of authority. In assuming this position He has been granted a universal acknowledgement that His name is above all names, and He will receive universal acclaim that He is Lord of all.
As one can see, Christ’s path to being a model for manhood greatness was not a typical one. He left heaven and came down into this world to return again – from top to bottom to top. (Rick Ezell)