The Apostle Paul captures the life, death, and the majesty of Christ poetically with just seven verses in Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV).
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
What Paul writes using poetry is for followers of Christ to live personally. In other words, we imitate Christ and clothe ourselves with humility. This is how Christ lived. Whatever Jesus did was from the Father. Whatever he said was the very word of God. Jesus modeled the Father’s heart and he was in full submission to the Father’s will.
Jesus had every right to use equality with God to his own advantage. In the desert, he could have yielded to the devil’s temptation and chosen the miracles of God over the will of God. He could have chosen bread over obedience, but he didn’t and every choice he made to say “no” to self was a choice that said “yes” to you.
Think about the unbelievably selfless ways that Jesus is described in Philippians. And it’s all true! It’s not that Jesus was nothing, he made himself nothing. You might wonder, how does the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, the Creator of the Universe make himself nothing?
He valued others above himself. He looked out for the interests of others and not his own self-interests. He became a servant. He washed his disciple’s feet. He made himself obedient to the cross. Humility led Jesus to die for others. He dies for his friends and family and for the stranger.
Yet, you could say that Christ has never met a stranger. He dies for his enemies who later become his friends. Many of those in opposition to the pre-resurrected Christ later became his followers. Jesus loved his enemies and prayed for those who persecuted him. He took up his cross for the sake of the whole world.
He served Palestine and through the cross Jesus serves the world. He came up under mankind. Even though we as humans sink low in our sins Christ sank lower. Even though we are empty, poor, and bankrupt in Spirit, Christ emptied himself so that he could serve the poorest of the poor. So that we might become rich in him. In his life, he made himself a servant to the leper and the prostitute. He kept company with the blind and tax collector. In his death, he made himself low to Barabbas and his executioners.
If we follow Jesus we are called to the selfless way of Christ. If we are forced to walk one mile then we walk two. When asked for our coat we give also our shirt. If someone strikes us then we are not to retaliate but turn the other cheek. We too are to make ourselves nothing.
Jesus instructs his disciples to take up their own crosses. When his original audience heard this, they did not receive it as a metaphor because the cross in Jesus’s day was used to kill thousands of Jews in Galilee. Jesus took up his cross in what was thought to be defeat. The cross cannot be defeated because the cross is defeat. Besides the grave, Jesus could not descend any lower than the cross and on it Jesus defeated sin, Jesus defeated death, and Jesus defeated shame.
He defeated shame because the cross is shame. He was naked and was violently dehumanized. These are all choices Jesus made for us and now these are the choices that we must make for him. These are the choices that we must make for each other.
Humility given in poetic prose by Paul was personified in Jesus. Jesus truly loved God, and loved people. He humbled himself and God lifted him up. Now, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and has received once again the glory that he had before the creation of the world. When he was lifted-up on the cross in humiliation it was his pathway to glorification.
In Jesus’s earthly ministry he gave us a glimpse of heaven on earth. In turn, his followers continue breaking forth the kingdom into darkness. His followers bring life where there is only death. We wear the name of Christ, we yield the power of Christ, and we pour out the love of Christ.
Jesus poured out his blood, he poured out his love, and he poured out his life. Jesus puts others above himself and this gives proof that he is the name above all names. He is great among us because he became our servant.
In the new heavens and new earth every person will recognize the Lordship of Christ. He will receive the full glory due him from all creation, for he is sovereign over all. He will receive from mankind what is properly due him, glory.
Eternal Father, thank you for the humility of Jesus.
Make us servants like him.
Make us humble, make us selfless.
Transform us each day into the image of Christ.
May we be attentive to others and their needs.
May we place their needs above our own.
May you be first in our hearts.
We love you and desire to do your will all the days of our lives.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
What does the humility of Christ teach you about following him?
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