Imagine you woke up one morning and you were in the middle of the ocean on ship with other crew members. No one knows how you all got there. No one knows what you all are supposed to be doing. You are all just there . . . on ship . . . with no coordinates . . . no mission . . . in the middle of a the vast ocean.
To make matters worse, no one on the ship really knows anything about sailing, navigating, or fishing. All the equipment for survival and a successful mission are present on the ship, it’s just that no one really knows how to use any of this.
After the initial shock begins to wear off, people start taking charge. A lot of mistakes are happening. Some people are getting injured as they try to learn how to operate the ship and use the fishing gear. And of course there is tons of disagreement. Some people want to sail that way, others want to sail this way. Some want to lower the nets over there to catch fish, others want to drop the nets over here. People start blaming one another for drinking too much of the fresh water. Irritation is rising as food supplies dwindle and the daily catch of fish is meager.
Now imagine a totally different scenario. You are a sailor in service to the King. He has commissioned you to sail across the ocean to explore new lands. Before the voyage your captain teaches you everything you need to know for the mission ahead. When you set sail, the captain is your example, your leader, and is telling you everything you need to know. The mission is difficult but also rewarding. It’s a success. The King is pleased with you on your return and he honors you for your faithful service.
These two scenarios could not be more different. In the first scene you are confused, directionless, untrained, and you don’t even know why you are at sea to begin with. In the second scene you have a clear purpose and you have a captain leading you on a successful mission.
The first scene is how must of go through life before we come to know Jesus Christ and discover our true purpose. Before the truth of God’s word is revealed to us, we know we are here on earth, we know we are supposed to be doing something, we all try to survive the best we can, but overall it’s pretty much a huge, dangerous mess.
But when we start reading the Bible and accepting it as truth, direction is given and things start making sense. Jesus is like our captain. He shows us what the Father’s mission is for us. The Holy Spirit empowers us for the voyage ahead. And God sails with us for the whole journey, through all the ups and downs.
So who is Jesus and what did he come to earth to do? When we can successfully answer this question, we will know our purpose as well and we will be given the strength to accomplish it.
The Bible is the only place to turn if you really want to know who Jesus is. There are many amazing passages of Scripture that teach us much about Jesus. Perhaps some of the most helpful verses about who Jesus is are found in Philippians 2:6-7:
6 Jesus has always been as God is. But He did not hold to His rights as God. 7 He put aside everything that belonged to Him and made Himself the same as a servant who is owned by someone. He became human by being born as a man.
Core to Jesus identity are the facts that Jesus is fully God and fully man. Jesus has “always been as God is,” which means Jesus is God and has existed “as God” eternally before creation. However, Jesus was also conceived by the Holy Spirit as a human in the womb of Mary at a specific time in history. Jesus really became a man in flesh and blood. That’s who Jesus is – both fully God and fully man. But what did he come to earth to do? Philippians 2:8-11 explains:
8After He became a man, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross. 9Because of this, God lifted Jesus high above everything else. He gave Him a name that is greater than any other name. 10 So when the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow down before Him. 11 And every tongue will say Jesus Christ is Lord. Everyone will give honor to God the Father.
Jesus came to earth to set prisoners free, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and offer eternal life and transformation to all humans. He came to die on the cross and be raised from the dead. He came to preach the good news. All of this is true. But why did he do all these things?
There are many answers we can give here, but they all can get boiled down to one answer. Ultimately, Jesus Christ came to earth to glorify God. Because of Jesus, “Everyone will give honor to God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). (Philippians 2:11 NIV says, “and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What is the glory of God? The Bible uses this phrase in many different ways, which means we can create many different definitions in general. However, the Bible primarily uses the phrase “the glory of God” in a specific way, and therefore what follows is a specific definition. The glory of God is the invisible qualities, character, or attributes of God displayed in a visible (or knowable) way.
Isaiah 6:2 states, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” You’d think this verse would end by saying, “the whole earth is full of his holiness.” But it doesn’t. It states that the whole earth is full of God’s glory. When the character of God, like his holiness, goes public for the world to witness and know, the Bible refers to this as “God’s glory.”
When the Israelites were rescued from Egypt and God led them by a cloud in the day and a cloud of fire by night, the Bible states “the glory of the LORD appeared” (Exodus 16:7-10). Obviously the glory of God is not a cloud or fireball. But when the character or quality of God is displayed publicly like it was in this example, the Bible refers to this as “the glory of God.”
When Moses was on the top of Mount Sinai speaking with God, “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And [God] said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD’” (Exodus 33:18-19). Again, the glory of God is the invisible character of God displayed. So when God visibly showed Moses his goodness and allowed Moses to know and understand the proclamation of God’s name “The LORD,” this was the same thing as God showing his glory to Moses.
God created the universe, the stars, the world, and everything, and it all bears God’s image to some degree. Thus the Bible states that all creation declares God’s glory (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20-23).
Humans were made for the glory of God (Isaiah 43:7). Therefore God made humans in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Lastly, Jesus glorifies God the most because he reveals God the most because he is God in the flesh (John 1:1, John 1:14, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3).
In summary, when we read Philippians 2:6-11, we see that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that he came to earth to die on the cross, and he did all this “to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11, NIV).
Why Is Jesus So Important to Our Transformation and Purpose?
The shortest way to summarize the above section is this: Jesus came to earth to glorify the Father through loving and saving people.
Why is this so important for us to know? Throughout the pages of Scripture, we are told that Jesus is our example in everything (John 13:14-15, Ephesians 5:1-2). He is the perfect human because he is also our perfect God. If Jesus’ mission and purpose on earth was to glorify God through loving him and other people (John 17:1-5), it’s logical to assume this is also our purpose too. It’s not only logical, but this is exactly what the Bible plainly tells us. Philippians 2:1-5 explains:
Are you strong because you belong to Christ? Does His love comfort you? Do you have joy by being as one in sharing the Holy Spirit? Do you have loving-kindness and pity for each other? 2 Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions. 3 Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself. 4 Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. Be happy to know what other people are doing. 5 Think as Christ Jesus thought.
In the NLT, Philippians 2:5 says, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Our purpose on earth is the same as Jesus Christ’s purpose: to love other people, to put others above ourselves, and to imitate Jesus in the way we live.
Why is this our purpose? Because God designed us to glorify him. Remember, to glorify means to reveal, to shed light on, to exalt, or to make visible. Jesus revealed God through his sacrificial love for humans. Our mission and purpose in life is to bear God’s image. We were made to worship and bring him praise by reflecting him in everything we do. And we reflect him best when we love God, love people, and act like Jesus.
Jesus is so important to our transformation for at least two reasons. 1. He is the example we are to follow. 2. He empowers us to do God’s will.
If our purpose to is bear God’s image, we must first know what God looks and acts like if we are to imitate him. Jesus came to show us this very thing. He came to reveal God to us:
Christ became human flesh and lived among us. We saw His shining- greatness (glory). This greatness is given only to a much-loved Son from His Father. He was full of loving-favor and truth. . . .18 The much-loved Son is beside the Father. No man has ever seen God. But Christ has made God known to us.(John 1:14, 18)
Because of Jesus, we now know how we are to live. But God not only shows us what our lives should like in Jesus, he also empowers us for this purpose through Jesus as well:
29 God knew from the beginning who would put their trust in Him. So He chose them and made them to be like His Son. Christ was first and all those who belong to God are His brothers. 30 He called to Himself also those He chose. Those He called, He made right with Himself. Then He shared His shining-greatness(glorified us) with those He made right with Himself. (Romans 8:29-30)
In summary, our mission is to love God, love people, and to do it all for the glory God. We accomplish this mission by living like Christ through the power God gives us as we are transformed into Christ’s image and filled with the Holy Spirit.
How Can You Live Like Christ?
To live like Christ we must know Christ intimately and rely on him only. Philippians 2:12-13 explains:
My Christian friends, you have obeyed me when I was with you. You have obeyed even more when I have been away. You must keep on working to show you have been saved from the punishment of sin. Be afraid that you may not please God. 13 He is working in you. God is helping you obey Him. God is doing what He wants done in you.
If you were to read Philippians 2:13 in isolation, you would have a desire to argue that if it is God who sovereignly works in us to give us both the desire and the power to obey him, then why are we responsible when we disobey God?
However, when you read Philippians 2:12 and 13 together, this logic is turned on its head. God’s power in us is the reason we should act rightly, not an excuse to not act rightly. We are told to obey God. Why? “For it is God who works in you . . . .” God’s power in us is why God now expects us to obey him.
It’s true that “it all depends on God,” but only in the context of our good actions, not in the context of our decision to do something or not. The fact that God is the source behind all good should never be used as freedom from personally making sure good is done. Rather, the fact that God is the source behind all good should empower and embolden our right behavior and decision because we know he lives in us if we have put our faith in Jesus.
Therefore, to live like Jesus, we must do two at least two things: work hard and believe God is working in you. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us to do both of these things. We are not told to work hard to be saved or because everything depends on human effort. No, Philippians 2:13 says the opposite. It says that God is all powerful and he is working in us to accomplish his will. When we believe verse 13, we will be empowered to accomplish verse 12.