Sermon:  Christianity in the Flesh

Summary:  Jesus identified with humanity in a most intimate way by almost literally 
walking in their shoes among them in order to bring humanity to God.  If we are to 
follow his example, we should also be willing to enter the world of others in order 
to bring them and God together.  

Know:  Jesus became flesh and lived among us.  This is a model for how we can connect 
with other people to bring them to God

Feel:  Compassion for people

Do:  Reflect on the meaning of "flesh" in scripture, and what it meant for Jesus to 
become flesh.  Discuss why it was necessary for Jesus to become flesh in his ministry 
and discover how this is a model he demonstrates as to how we can connect with people 
on their level to bring them to God.

Text:  Heb 2:14-17;  Cor 9:19-23

Scripture Reading:  John 1:14

1.  Do you know what the largest organ in the human body is?  Skin
2.  Did you know the Bible has something to say about it?
3.  Not just skin but uses the word, "flesh"

I.  What does the New Testament have to say about flesh?
	A.  Start with definition:  Greek word is "sarx" and is used in two ways
		1.  Literal flesh (skin, meat, etc.)
		2.  Metaphor for human weakness that causes us to sin
	B.  Passages that describe "flesh
		1.   (I Cor 3:1-3) - 
			a.  To be "fleshly" is to be infants
			b.  To be "fleshly" is to be jealous and full of strife
			c.  To be "fleshly" is to be immature
		2.  (Rom 7:14-24)
			a.  Nothing good dwells in our flesh
			b.  To be fleshly is to be trapped in weakness and death
		3.  Flesh and Spirit are at war with each other
			a.  We saw this in Rom 7
			b.  (Gal 5:16-18)
		4.  It seems from these passages that flesh is not a good thing
			a.  Flesh is never used as a positive thing
			b.  Matt 26:41 - "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"
			c.  If you are fleshly, you are weak
	C.  ILL:  Story of the Scorpion and Frog
		1.  Scorpion wanted to cross river, asked a frog
		2.  Discussion - But you will sting me
			a.  Scorpion - but if I do that, we'll both die
			b.  Frog - But when get to other dies you'll sting me
			c.  Scorpion - But I'll be so grateful, I won't
		3.  So, got on, but halfway across, scorpion stung him
		4.  Frog - Why?  Now both die!  Scorpion - I guess its in my nature
			a.  That is an illustration of human weakness
			b.  Often we just can't help ourselves
	D.  This fleshliness seems to be part of a nature as humans
		1.  We often say, "We are only human"
		2.  We have weakness that cause us to do the wrong thing
		3.  What about Jesus?

II.  Was Jesus weak and fleshly as well?
	A.  (Heb 1:6-7) - Ps 8 applied to Jesus
		1.  Original context in Psalm 8:1-6 - 
			a.  Psalmist considers all of God's creation, power, etc
			b.  Then says, "What is man that you take thought of him,
			c.  and the Son of man, that you care for him!
		2.  The human is marveling that God cares for the son of man
		3.  Son of man means "human"
		4.  But some would say Jesus was not human like us
	B.  (Jn 1:1-3, 14) -  The "word" became "flesh"
		1.  Strange choice of words, considering connotation of "flesh"
			a.  Favorite word of philosophers talk about human nature
			b.  Seems to be saying Jesus was human like we are
		2.  (Heb 2:14-17) - He was like his brethren in ALL things
			a.  Didn't say in some things, but all things
			b.  So Jesus was indeed human like we are
			c.  This makes some people uncomfortable
				-  How could our Lord become human?
				-  We need him to be powerful rather than human
				But take a look at this passage . . .
		3.  (Heb 5:7-9) - In the days of his "flesh"
			a.  He had to "learn" obedience and was "made" perfect!
			b.  What??????
				-  Wasn't Jesus already perfect?
				-  Why did he have to "learn" obedience?
				-  He was in the "flesh"
				-  Had all of the human weaknesses and temptations
			c.  Let that sink in, lived life as a baby, child, teenager, adult
				-  Had to learn obedience 
				-  Lived life like any other human - carpenter
		4.  Why?  Had to walk in our shoes to be merciful faithful high priest
			a.  (Heb 4:14-5:2) - Jesus was beset with human weakness
				- But he did not commit any sin
			b.  He knows our experience, he has walked in our shoes
			c.  He understands, and he will help and guide us
	C.  ILL:  Like the story of a man trying to find his way
		1.  Many people tried to help in various ways
			a.  One talked about pacing yourself, told how to walk
			b.  Another talked about shoes, proper wear for journey
			c.  One criticized him for not knowing the way
			d.  One tried to draw him a map to show the way
		2.  But then there was one who joined him for the journey
			a.  Actually walked with him on the way
			b.  Identified with every hurt, challenged, and weakness
			c.  Friend became tired, hungry, frustrated,
			d.  Experienced everything together
		3.  This is what Jesus did
			a.  Identified with us in the most intimate way possible
			b.  Jesus became flesh, like us
	D.  Jesus walked in our shoes, literally
		1.  But he didn't take the wrong path
		2.  But he knows our every weakness intimately

III.  Is there a practical application to all this?
	A.  First of all, draw strong encouragement
		1.  We will begin a series on Hebrews next week
		2.  Jesus knows our ways intimately, he has been there
		3.  He will strengthen us and give us what we need
	B.  Second, I believe it is also an example for us
		1.  We serve God according to his nature, he is holy, we are holy
		2.  Notice the way God communicated ultimate word (Heb 1:1-2)
			a.  Not through tracts, radio, television, letters, articles
			b.  It was through a flesh and blood human being, a person
		3.  Jn 20:21 - Jesus said, as the Father sent me, I send YOU
			a.  Are we called to walk in other's shoes as well?
			b.  Are we going to follow him as our model?
		4.  (1 Cor 9:19-23) - Became like them, not of them, to win them
	C.  ILL:  The pattern Jesus left was not what we typically see today
		1.  Jesus didn't keep people at arms length
			a.  Didn't come to town tent meeting 
			b.  Didn't stay at local motel
		2.  Jesus got down and dirty with the people
			a.  He walked with them
			b.  Experienced sorrows and joy with them
			c.  He identified with them
		3.  Story of the boy who wanted to buy a puppy from salesman
			a.  $25, but he only had $2 - wanted to see them anyway
			b.  Noticed a runt with a lame leg
				-  "I want that one" he said
				- Can I pay for him a little at a time?
				- Salesman said - But he will always have a limp
			c.  Then salesman noticed boy had lame leg too
			d.  Boy said - "That's okay, he will need lots of help, I know 
     all about it and I can help him"
		4.  That is what Jesus did when he became flesh
			a.  He knows all about it - identified with us
			b.  Could guide us in a sympathetic way
	D.  If we are to follow Christ, we need to do as he did
		1.  Connect with people where they live
		2.  Love them selflessly, even if inconvenient
		3.  Need to got to where they are, identify with them

1.  God's ultimate message became "flesh"
2.  God's message is still to become flesh through us


Small Group Notes:  Christianity in the Flesh

Summary:  Jesus identified with humanity in a most intimate way by almost literally 
walking in their shoes among them in order to bring humanity to God.  If we are to 
follow his example, we should also be willing to enter the world of others in order 
to bring them and God together.

Open  (choose one)
-  Who has been your best friend? 
- If you could use a metaphor or analogy to describe what a best friend would be 
like, what might you use? 


1.  (Rom 7:14-24; Gal 5:16-18) Discuss the ways these passages describe the flesh.  
After discussing, attempt to formulate a definition for "flesh."

2.  (Jn 1:1-3, 14)  The word became "flesh."  What implications does this phrase have 
concerning what Jesus did and how he did it?  Why not simply say Jesus became a "man" 
rather than "flesh?"  

3.  (Heb 2:14-17)  Why did Jesus become flesh?  Discuss some things he could not do 
unless he became flesh.

4.  (Jn 20:21; 1 Cor 9:19-23 )  In what ways is Jesus' incarnation (him becoming flesh) 
a model for his followers to follow?


5.  What are some ways you have identified with people where they are at, or what are 
some ways someone has identified with you where you were at?  How did this reflect 
the nature of Christ?

6.  What challenges would/do you face in trying to follow Christ's model in identifying 
with others?  What are some ways to deal with these challenges?

7.  Identify some ways you can connect with people as Jesus did.  Try to be as specific 
as possible.