Sermon Follow Up - Week 10, 2022
Paul wants us to live in a manner consistent with the gospel by showing us that humility of Christ is the clearest picture of a life of others-focused humility that we as Christians are called to live.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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, ESV)
Our imitation of Christ’s humility will lead to joy in our unity now and everlasting joy when he returns
SUBPOINTS AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. The Humiliation of Christ
Paul begins by saying that though Jesus was in the form of God, he did something absolutely unexpected. His point is that we would expect that someone who was in the form of God to count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Paul is saying that even though Jesus was equal with God, it did not cause him to “grasp” or “take advantage of” his position of privilege as God. Jesus could have remained in heaven in his position of power and authority. He could have remained and received unceasing worship from the hosts of heaven for all eternity. He would still be good, and righteous, and just.
- Do you take advantage of your position to serve yourself and your needs? Or do you use your privilege to serve those who are under you?
Next, Paul shows us the second downward step of humility of Christ (Philippians 2:7, ESV). The phrase emptying himself is defined and clarified by the two phrases that follow. He emptied himself BY taking the form of a servant, and BEING born in the likeness of men. Just as being in the form of God is defined by equality with God in the previous verse, being in the form of a servant is defined by being born in the likeness of men in this verse.
First, Jesus takes the form of a servant or slave. Jesus could have come as a king with all the rights and privileges of divine authority on his side. Yet, he laid aside all the riches of his power and glory to become a servant. He could have come demanding to be served because he was the Son of God, but he did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Second, Paul says that Jesus is born in the likeness of men. The reality of the Messiah becoming a servant required him to be born in the likeness of men. This phrase “likeness of men” is both ambiguous and precise at the same time. There is a sense in which Jesus is like us in our humanity, but there is a sense in which he is not like us. The similarity lies with Jesus fully taking on a human nature just like ours. The dissimilarity has to do with Jesus never sinning, and never ceasing to be “equal with God.” This was the only solution possible for mankind’s rebellion against God. Because man sinned against God, a man had to pay the penalty of sin through death. But because the penalty incurred against an infinitely holy God is infinite, only an infinite being could bear the infinite wrath of God against our sin.
Paul then shows us the third downward step of the humility of Christ (Philippians 2:8, ESV). The reality that Jesus became obedient to the point of death implies that he was obedient at every point in his life as well. In all his life, Jesus was completely obedient to the Father (John 6:38, ESV). Jesus perfectly obeyed the law of God, perfectly carried out the mission that he had been given from the Father. And all this obedience that Jesus accrued in his lifetime was essential to his mission as a servant because on the basis of his obedience to the Father his people would one day be counted as righteous. Even still, the righteousness that he procured for his people was necessary, but not sufficient, because to truly rescue his people, he also had to pay for the penalty for their sins – and the wages of sin is death. So, having fully obeyed his Father in life, our Savior was also had to be obedient unto death.
As if the humiliation of death for the Son of God was not enough, Paul says that Jesus took humility to even greater depths when he says that he was obedient EVEN to death on a cross. The cross was a cruel form of execution in the Roman empire usually reserved for criminals and slaves. The person to be crucified was first tortured, stripped naked, then fastened to the cross with nails and ropes, and slowly tortured to death as a spectacle for all to see. Can you imagine a more humiliating scene? The God of the universe submitting himself to death on a cross reserved for the lowest of the low in society.
- How does the depth of Christ’ humiliation help you think about the magnitude of your sin?
- How does the depth of Christ’s humiliation help you think about his infinite love for you?
2. The Exaltation of Christ (v 9-11)
The path of humiliation led to God raising Jesus from the dead through the power of the Spirit and then he exalted Jesus to the right hand of the throne of God from where he rules and reigns as Lord over all. There was a unique glory that Jesus had before creation as the eternal Son of God. But now, as a man, because of his obedience in the path of humiliation, he has been exalted to an even more glorious place. Once Jesus was to be worshipped and adored as creator and sustainer of the world, but now also as redeemer. Once he was to be glorified as the only true God, but now he is also glorified as the unique God-man by his redeemed people. He has been exalted to the highest place and worthy of blessing and honor and glory and power.
Paul goes on to tell us in v9 that God exalting Christ also includes bestowing on Jesus the name that is above every name. The name by which every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It seems that the focus is not so much on the name of Jesus, but on the title of Lord being given to him at his resurrection. And this is not insignificant here because Paul is drawing from Isaiah again and is making stunning connection (Isaiah 45:22-23, ESV). Here in Isaiah, Yahweh says that every knee will bow to Him. In v10 of Philippians, Paul says that every knee will bow before the exalted Jesus Christ. The point is as profound as it is simple—Jesus Christ is Yahweh in the flesh! What God promised to do in the book of Isaiah is fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus! And one day ALL of creation will one day recognize and bow down to the sovereign and exalted King Jesus.
The declaration that Jesus is Lord was an early confession of Christians. And proclaiming that Jesus is Lord was a direct assault on what was the accepted truth in the Roman Empire – that Caesar alone is Lord. Christians were persecuted for proclaiming that there is one who is Lord over Caesar. But one day Caesar himself will bow down and confess with his own tongue that Jesus is Lord!
- Have you submitted to the Lordship of Christ?
- Do you spend your life making his great name known? Or are you more interested in making your own name known?
3. Our Imitation of Christ (v5)
Having a humble mindset is not they means by which we work our way back to God. Remember in v1-3 last week that because of God’s grace we have received encouragement in Christ, comfort from his love, and fellowship by his Spirit. And now, by the power of the Spirit we slowly and imperfectly grow in our humble attitude that we see in our humble Savior. Do you see the depths of God’s selfless love for you? This is what our Savior did, and this is what he calls us to do as well.
There is one motivation that I want to highlight in the mind of Christ that might motivate us to humility. Jesus was motivated by joy to endure the agonies of the cross, to continue down the path of the shame and humiliation, and to take upon himself the penalty of sin (Hebrews 12:1-2). What was this joy? It was the greatest imaginable joy of being exalted to right hand of God among the gathering of the redeemed. It was the joy of being glorified with the Father with the same glory that he had before the foundation of the world. It was the joy of accomplishing the mission that he received from the father. I pray that the joy that motivated Christ would be a source of indestructible joy for us no matter how low we have to go in this life.
- Are you motivated by joy to take the path of humility for the sake of serving others?
- Consider how can you grow in humility by looking to the example of Christ
- Consider how you can ask the Spirit to enable you to be joyful as you serve others like Christ has served us
SONGS TO ENCOURAGE