“… Being found in appearance as a man.”
Many people view Christ only as a man, but He is God.
After winning a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Scottish runner Eric Liddell served as a missionary in China; he died in a prison camp during World War II. The camp’s prisoners loved Eric, for he served them so unselfishly. It was only at his funeral that they first learned he was an Olympic hero. They had had no idea of his full identity.
Most people didn’t realize Christ’s full identity either, for He was “found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:8). At first glance that phrase seems like a repetition of the end of verse 7, “being made in the likeness of men.” We could paraphrase verse 8 to read, “He was discovered to appear as a man.” The difference between that and verse 7 is a shift in focus. In verse 8 we view the humiliation of Christ from the viewpoint of those who saw Him. Christ was the God–man, but as people looked at Him, they saw the “appearance” (Greek, schema, “outward form”) of a man. Paul was implying that though Christ appeared to be a man, there was much more to Him that could not naturally be seen.
For Christ to become man was humbling enough. For Him not to have been recognized must have been humiliating. He performed miracles and taught authoritatively, yet the typical responses were: “You are a Samaritan and have a demon” (John 8:48) and, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” (John 6:42). Because their minds were darkened by sin, people recognized His humanity but could not see His deity. They could not recognize who He really was. They not only treated the King of kings as a man but as the worst of men—a criminal.
Unlike people who don’t recognize Christ’s true identity, let’s honor Him through a life of worship and obedience.
Suggestions for Prayer: Worship Christ for who He really is—the King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise Him for this truth in your prayer time.
For Further Study: Christ was not only fully man but also fully God. Read the following verses in which Christ Himself bears testimony that He is God: Luke 22:69–70; John 10:30, 37–38; 12:45; 14:7–10. What else should one find in these verses? MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.