Thursday, July 24, 2008

This week's Sabbath School lesson: Jesus of Nazareth

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 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!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father -- Philippians 2:5-11, NIV.

"Eighty-percent of success," said Woody Allen, "is showing up."

Paul would agree. Writing to the church in Philippi, Paul quotes an already-familiar hymn about the kenosis -- about the way Jesus emptied himself in order to show up here on this earth.

To be sure, what happened after his arrival is the subject of almost infinite debate. When it comes to this week's lesson, for instance:
  • Some of your students will focus on Christ's life, others on his death.
  • Some will see Christ as our example, others as our sacrifice.
  • Some will emphasize sanctification, others justification.
But whatever their view of the atonement may be, your students should agree that it was impossible without the incarnation -- that in the deus ex machina of all time, God had to write Himself into the script of human history and live like any other person so that we might be saved . . .

And no, we may not agree about all the details of that "salvation."

But if we agree on the incarnation, then we're 80-percent there.

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