Introduction: We ended our discussion last week with the amazing
discovery that the “arm of God” (His power) is self-sacrificing love.
This week we turn to the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. Exactly what did
Jesus’ love cause Him to give up? A popular work of fiction claims
that Jesus gave up only His life. Why? Because Jesus was a mere man.
The Bible reveals a different truth. It tells us that God became man
and lived with us. This astonishing truth about how God became man
and came to live with us is our study for this week. Let’s jump into
this timely topic!

  1. The Nature of Jesus

    1. Read Philippians 2:5-7. Paul lays out a logical argument
      about what kind of attitude we should have. We will get
      back to the issue of attitude later, right now let’s focus
      on the points he makes about Jesus.

      1. What does Paul tell us about the background of Jesus?
        (He was God.)

      2. What status did Jesus deserve? (The highest. He is
        the “very nature of God.”)

      3. What status did Jesus take? (He agreed to be “made in
        human likeness” – to make Himself nothing.)

    2. Philippians 2:6 tells us that Jesus was the “very nature”
      of God and Philippians 2:7 tells He took the “very nature”
      of man. What do you think is meant by the term the “very
      nature?” (A word that is popular today is “morphed.” The
      frog “morphed” into a handsome prince. It means to change
      from one thing to another. Our lesson points out (Monday)
      that the Greek word “morphe” (the basis for our “morphed”)
      is the word which the NIV translates as “nature.” Jesus
      “morphed” from God to man.)

    3. Read Philippians 2:8. God taking on human likeness is one
      thing, what else did Jesus do in considering the interests
      of others? (He agreed to die on the cross. We have this
      progression: Jesus agreed to “make Himself nothing.”
      Then, He went further and agreed to humble Himself by
      dying on a cross.)

  2. The Attitude of Jesus

    1. Knowing Jesus’ true nature helps us better understand
      Paul’s teaching about attitude. Read Philippians 2:1-2.
      “Diversity” is the theme I hear all the time. What does
      Paul say should be the goal of Christians? (Being one in
      spirit and purpose.)

      1. What kind of differences are permitted in unity of
        spirit and purpose?

      2. What motivates us to put away our differences when it
        comes to being “like-minded?” (The blessings
        (comfort) of the love of Christ and the influence of
        the Holy Spirit.)

        1. What does that mean – “the comfort from His
          love?” (Jesus gave Himself up for us. That
          should teach us something in our relationship
          with others.)

    2. Read Philippians 2:3-4. How do we, as a practical matter,
      put away our differences and become one in spirit and
      purpose? That is, what should we start doing right now to
      accomplish this? (Look out for the interests of others.)

      1. Does this mean we cannot look our for our own
        interests? (No. Philippians 2:4 says it is fine to
        look out for our own interests. What God calls us to
        do is to also look out for the interests of others.

      2. How was Jesus looking out for His own interests in
        becoming a man and agreeing to be tortured and die as
        a criminal? (Here is an amazing thing. Jesus’
        interests seem to be our interests. He made our
        interests His interests.)

      3. When you are asked to do something for the church, do
        you find that the interests of the church become your

      4. “Diversity,” as the world uses it, seems to argue
        “Everyone should be different and celebrate that.” If
        you find that the interests of others become your
        interests, what will you be celebrating? (You will be
        celebrating how you are similar. You will celebrate
        your unity. “Being one in spirit and purpose.”
        Philippians 2:2)

    3. Read Philippians 2:9-11. Having this attitude resulted in
      what for Jesus? (Being exalted to the highest place!)

      1. Does this mean that self-sacrifice and considering
        the interests of others is NOT the ultimate goal?
        (Looking out for the interests of others is the life-blood of the Kingdom of God. Considering others makes
        the kingdom work and bring blessings and honor to

        1. Notice Philippians 2:6 tells us that it was not
          Jesus’ goal to be equal with God. On the other
          hand, Philippians 2:9 tells us that Jesus was
          exalted to the highest place. If you want glory,
          what does this suggest you should pursue?

  3. The Current Conflict

    1. Paul’s focus is to teach us about attitude, but in the
      process he teaches us critical truths about the nature of
      Jesus. Philippians 2:6-11 lies at the heart of our faith
      as Christians. Jesus, who was fully God, became a human
      and died on the cross for our sins. What an attitude Jesus
      modeled for us! In your opinion, does the general public
      understand the message of Philippians that Jesus, who was
      fully God, became fully human to die in our place?

      1. Do you think the general public understands the
        message that God resurrected Jesus and that Jesus is
        now exalted “above every name” in heaven?

    2. Friend, I believe that we are in the middle of a great
      supernatural battle over these very points in the eyes of
      the Biblically uneducated masses. Mel Gibson’s movie, The
      Passion of the Christ, brought Jesus’ incredible love and
      sacrifice for us to the attention of the masses. God used
      Mel Gibson to illustrate Philippians 2:8. On the other
      hand, for (too) many weeks now, the book entitled the Da
      Vinci Code has been at the top of the best seller lists.
      The Da Vinci Code is a very slick and vicious attack on
      the truth of Philippians 2:6. This book states that it is
      a historical fact that the mainstream of the early Church
      did not believe Jesus was God. Instead, the Church claimed
      for the first time that Jesus was God at the Council of
      Nicea in 325 A.D. The Da Vinci Code says, “until that
      moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a
      mortal prophet … a great and powerful man, but a man

      1. How would you use Philippians 2:6 to unmask this
        falsehood contained in the Da Vinci Code? (The
        writings of Paul show the historical claims of the Da
        Vinci Code are a hoax. The context of Paul’s writings
        reveal he was a contemporary of Jesus and His
        disciples. The book of Philippians was a letter
        written by Paul to the early church in Philippi
        ( Philippians 1:1). Thus, the timing of Philippians
        2:6 reveals that from the very beginning Christians
        viewed Jesus as fully God – not a mere “mortal

    3. Read Colossians 1:3. How does Paul portray the
      relationship of Jesus and God?

    4. Let’s continue on in Colossians. Skip down and read
      Colossians 1:15-16. What concept do you get when you read
      that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God?” (Jesus put
      a human face on our God.)

      1. What “God things” did Jesus do? (He is the Creator –
        not just of our world – but of everything.)

    5. Read Colossians 1:17. When did Jesus come into being?
      (“Before all things.”)

      1. What “God duty” is Jesus performing right now? (I’m
        not sure if this means Jesus “spiritually” holds the
        kingdom together, or if this means that Jesus
        literally holds the universe together – that He is
        the power behind gravity.)

    6. Read Colossians 1:18. What is the significance of Jesus’
      resurrection from the dead? (This teaches us that Jesus’
      resurrection gave the rest of us the opportunity to be
      raised from the dead. Jesus is supreme over everything,
      including death.)

    7. Read Colossians 1:19. How much of God the Father was in
      Jesus? (The “fullness” of God was in Jesus.)

    8. Paul’s letter to the early Christians at Colosse (see
      Colossians 1:2) is one of the earliest written statements
      of Christian faith. Read Colossians 2:8-9. Against what is
      Paul warning the early believers? (He is warning them
      against the same kind of deception that is presented in
      the Da Vinci Code! This early letter shows that Christians
      have viewed Jesus as fully God – God who became a man –
      from the very beginning of the Church.)

    9. Friend, what position do you take on the nature of Jesus?
      Believing that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and that
      He lived, died for our sins, and was resurrected, is
      essential to our faith as Christians. Having the true view
      of Jesus is also critical to our understanding of how we
      should relate to each other as Christians.

  4. Next week: In the Shadow of Calvary.