Previously on The Journey into Growth…
Part 2: Process—A Question of Destiny
It is the destiny of every Christ-follower to become like Jesus. Therefore, we should be able to come to a pretty good understanding of how we’re supposed to turn out: Just like Jesus.
But how do we get from here to there? Is there a road map? Is there a process to follow?
Well, yes there is, and it might just surprise you.
Jesus was a model learner
As I write these words, we’re a few days past celebrating the birth of Jesus. Most of us have seen pictures or manger scenes with the Baby Jesus lying in the manger. It’s probably pretty easy to recognize that that little Baby needed a lot of help just to survive in this world. And it’s easy to see the grown-up Jesus feeding the multitudes, walking on water, healing the blind and lame—and then miss a simple fact:
Just like you and me, Jesus had to get from here (the manger) to there (miracles, temptations, death, resurrection…). And in doing so, had to follow the exact same process of maturing that we do.
Hebrews 5:7-9 reveals an astonishing portrait of Jesus as Learner:
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Jesus had to learn obedience
But how could that be? He is God. He has never sinned. He has never disobeyed his Father, never by his own failure been separated from the Father. Never come short of perfect righteousness. I think we’ll understand this a little better later when we take a look at an incident in Jesus’s childhood. For now, let’s just say there is a world of difference between intuitive agreement with soul mates (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and obedience in the face of resistance.
He was made perfect
Does that mean Jesus was at some point imperfect? Fortunately, no. In the Bible, “perfect” usually doesn’t mean “without flaw.” It means “complete,” “mature.” The finished product. The completion of a process. The important point here is that, at some point in his life, Jesus was not mature. At a later point he was.
Philippians 2:6-8 holds the next clue:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Jesus as God
As we see in Philippians 2:6, Jesus was “in very nature God.” The Apostle John, in describing the timelessness of Jesus, called him the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Then John says that the “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Before Jesus “became flesh,” he had all the attributes that belonged to him as God:
- Omnipresence—He could be everywhere at once.
- Omniscience—He knew everything.
- Omnipotence—He could do anything (overpower everything).
Made in human likeness
He was “made in human likeness.” That doesn’t mean Jesus was almost human—but not quite. It means he really was human—but without sin (see Hebrews 4:15). He experienced things that a normal human would:
- He was born physically to a human, and came into the world with physical needs: Luke 2:7.
- He was circumcised: Luke 2:21.
- He had to be protected by his parents: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.
- He was tempted: Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15.
- He experienced hunger: Matthew 4:2; 21:18.
- He experienced fatigue: John 4:6.
- He experienced emotion: John 2:17; 11:35, 38; Matthew 9:36.
- He became aware of things he wasn’t aware of before: John 4:3.
- He did not know everything: Matthew 24:36.
- He grew up: Luke 2:52.
Here is some really good news: Jesus is our model, not just for the results of growth, but for the process of growing itself! In other words, we can find out how we are to grow, if we look and see how Jesus grew.
And that’s what we’ll do in the next installment.
Think about it…
Which is usually more encouraging to you as you seek to become a fully devoted follower of Christ—people who seem perfect, or people whose growth you can see and learn from?