Undoubtedly you have heard the phrase " Jesus was100% God and 100% man" spoken in an effort to describe the mystery of the eternal God coming to earth as a human to redeem us. Truly He came from heaven and although he was born of a woman, He was sired by the Holy Spirit. So there was something truly divine and uncommon about Him. He was born as all of us were born and went through growth and development like we all did, so He was human. However, to describe Him as 100 % God and man is inaccurate and draws us from an important truth: He is our example.
Jesus said that the traditions of man make the word of God ineffectual. That something we declare as sacred or divine of our own accord could render the truth of God powerless doesn't seem possible but we only have to read the gospels to see that it is so. Jesus was The Word made flesh yet was denied His position as King Of Israel and denied the honor due the ultimate prophet because the religious and civil authorities had substituted their contrived truth for the Truth and so as Jesus said, his words could find no place in their heart. That place designed to receive and respond to the Word of God was filled by a man- made truth. In treating a person addicted to narcotics, the therapist turns to a drug designed to attach itself to the receptors that have received the narcotic that the addict craves, but fails to deliver the desired high.
This idea that Jesus was 100% God as He walked the earth sounds good but is just not true. Paul in His letter to the Philippians while challenging them to follow Christ's example of humility, made this startling statement, " Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God, did not think this equality with God was a thing to be ( and I'll use the Amplified's second meaning) retained, but stripped Himself ( of all privileges and rightful dignity) so as to assume the guise of a servant in that he became like men and was born a human being." Phil 2. 6-7
I think too often we read that passage like " Even though He was God, He was real nice and poor and humble and didn't go around judging people." But that's not what it says. Paul initially is describing Jesus' situation before He came to earth when He was essentially one with God. The stripping was the act of coming to earth as a man. The Holy Spirit gave me a brief but powerful insight into the earth and heaven shaking drama of this act. I was outside letting our dogs do their thing and I looked up at the stars. In a moment I had some appreciation for the Mind that conceived, created, and controlled this limitless universe. It is beyond staggering! I would suggest if you have a Bible study group, get hold of some DVD that deals with the universe and its expanse and dimensions. One of our men presented a video of this nature and it helps to recall some of the mind- blowing information when you're trying to enter a state of worship. In another moment, I was made aware of the tremendous gulf between the mental capacity of man and God. It's like seeing the word "billion" and mentally responding " Oh yeah, that's a lot" versus seeing a billion things up close and being overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. And then the Holy Spirit, in essence said, " That's how much Jesus stripped Himself of ". Wow! Think about Donald Trump giving up all his wealth and trappings of wealth and power and even his ability to gather wealth and becoming just a man with nothing in Haiti or Zimbabwe! Multiply that by a zillion and we're still not close to how completely Jesus stripped Himself.
You cannot strip yourself this dramatically and remain 100%. When Jesus walked the earth, He was not 100% God. He was neither omniscient nor omnipotent. He certainly retained His identity as part of the Godhead and in that respect He was divine 100%. But He walked the earth as a man and the Father by way of the Holy Spirit, worked great works THROUGH Jesus. Jesus' ministry on earth was our clinic on walking with the Holy Spirit. Jesus did no miracles that we are aware of until He was anointed at age 30. That anointing is available to us so that the Father might do His works through us. Jesus knew things beyond His senses by way of a word of knowledge like we can know things beyond our senses. Jesus healed by laying hands on the sick like we can lay hands on the sick. The Father did mighty works through Jesus because Jesus was totally submissive and attentive to the Father as we are to be that He might do mighty works through us. This is why Jesus would say something as preposterous as " ...if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father." John 14: 12. And remember, as He told his disciples later, He went to the Father so that He might send the Holy Spirit.
Now back to the tradition supplanting truth thing. Like leaven, this insidious, humble sounding idea that we are poor sinners saved by grace, forever wimpy and so unlike Jesus who after all, is all God and all man which we are not, gets into our hearts,swells and occupies the receptor designed to receive the truth that He is the firstborn of many, and that we are to do the same works and even greater works as Jesus. And then we are easily seduced into a make it through this life so we can get to heaven mindset rather than we are more than conquerors mindset.
When we read the book of Ephesians, we see a divine ambition for the church that belies the wimps waiting for heaven model. This church is to reveal the many sided wisdom of God to the powers and authorities in the unseen ( Eph 3: 10 ) and develop until we arrive to a completeness that rises to the stature of Jesus, as one in the faith (Eph 4:13)! This is why the Holy Spirit can talk about Jesus coming for a bride without spot or blemish. For these truths , we should be more zealous to seek God and be desperate for direction and instruction. Jesus said on many occasions that He did what He saw the Father doing, said what the Father told Him to say, and teach what He gave Him to teach. Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. If this is the case, then we have much to do here in the way of learning joyful and precise obedience. If Jesus is just some God/ Superman then we are off the hook; no need to confront our carnality or stiff- necked ness. But if He did what He did through humility and subservience then we're very much on the hook!
In closing, we should better understand lines like; put on Christ; put off the old man; imitate Him as one imitates a much loved father. Rather than embrace a flawed tradition that permits our carnality, let's embrace the truth that seeks to seat us in heavenly places. God's plan for us is progressive and ambitious and requires our submitting as Jesus submitted. So submit so that in due time He might raise us up!