The Incarnation: Jesus is Like Us and Unlike Us

Continuing to look at some clips relating to an essential doctrine of the Christian faith, from Mark Driscoll’s latest sermon series, Luke’s Gospel: Investigating the Man Who is God:

The Incarnation of Jesus.

Enjoy the teaching above and share some of your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

Edited transcript follows:

Jesus is like us. This is how it changes our life. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus is like us. John Stott, a great British theologian once said, “In a world filled with suffering and pain, I could not fathom worshiping a God who was immune to it.” See, in other religions, the concept of God is that he is transcendent. He is far away. The life of sin and sinners on the earth is just a mess and it’s uncomfortable and it’s painful and deplorable so maybe God will send an angel or he’ll drop some commands but he’s certainly not going to come down and get involved.

The story of the incarnation is that he did. His name is Jesus. What this means is none of us can look at Jesus and say, “You don’t understand. Jesus, you don’t understand what it is to grow up, to be a teenager, to have your family sort of turn their back on you and your friends betray you. You don’t know what it’s like to work a dead-end job. You don’t know what’s it like to be homeless and you don’t know what it’s like to be poor. And you don’t know what it’s like to be mocked or lied about or beaten or abused or harmed or suffer or die.” Jesus would say, “Actually, I do. I’m your high priest.” The high priest was the holy man, the mediator between God and his people. Bringing people’s sins to God and bringing God’s love to people. Jesus is our great high priest, one of the great themes of Hebrews. That’s why we don’t have a priesthood. We have a high priest. He’s the only one we need.

What he says is he can sympathize. See, when you’re suffering, talk to Jesus. When you’re hurting, you can talk to Jesus. If you’re struggling, talk to Jesus. If you’re tempted, you can talk to Jesus because Jesus has been tempted. See, in his humility entering into history, Jesus became like us. See, we have a God who, unlike any other concept of God, he gets it, he understand it. Unlike the force of pantheism and panentheism, we have a real God with a name and a face, Jesus. What he says is we can run to him any time we have need and he gives grace and he sympathizes with us. He understands us.

So the first comfort is, Jesus is like us. But if Jesus was just like us, that in and of itself would not be helpful. Some of you have friends that are like you, they’re like, “I totally understand. I feel your pain.” What are you gonna do? “I don’t know. There’s not much I can do. You’re on your own. I sympathize, empathize but I’m equally unable to affect change.” Jesus is encouraging because he’s like us. He’s also encouraging because he’s unlike us. Think about that. Jesus is also unlike us. Hebrews 7:26-27 says, we “have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens,” that’s where he’s at today, ruling and reigning, “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins.”

Here’s how Jesus is different than us: he never sinned. Was he tempted? That’s what it says. You’ll see it later in Luke. He was tempted. Did he sin? No. This is where he’s different than us. Every time he was tempted he remained holy. He said yes to the will of the Father and no to the temptation of the world. So, what this means is when we’re tempted to sin we can run to Jesus and he can say, “I know how to get you around this. I avoided this one myself.” And when we do sin we can run to Jesus. And what Jesus doesn’t do, like some of our friends, is say, “Hey, nobody’s perfect. I understand. I did the same thing. I’m no better than you. Let’s do it together next time.” Jesus instead says, “I said no to that sin and I died for your sin and I’ll forgive you, get you out of the mess you’re in, change your whole life so you don’t go back and do it anymore.” That’s what he does. He changes people. He’s unlike us in that he is without sin. Jesus lived the life we should have lived and haven’t, and he died the death that we should have died and won’t, if our faith is in him.