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 made himself nothing, 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 upon 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)
Tuesday, we talked about how we fight against the brokenness, disharmony, and bitterness in the world, and instead work for love, joy, and peace by lifting others up and concerning ourselves with what is best for them. Today, we see the second part of walking this better path: Following the example of Jesus.
Paul wanted us to understand three things about Jesus in these verses. First, Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Jesus is deity, co-equal with the Father in all of his attributes. He is God in the fullness of his essence. Second, God the Son chose to set aside his God-privilege in taking on the nature of a human being. He “made himself nothing” or, as some translations put it, “emptied himself” in taking on flesh.
This was not a denial of or reduction of his nature as God. Even as a man, Jesus changed water to wine, walked on a stormy sea, healed the sick, brought the dead back to life, multiplied loaves and fish, etc. He had no issues in using his divine power when necessary. Yet, he also grew hungry, thirsty, and tired. He walked through all the phases of being an infant, toddler, adolescent, teenager, and adult. And more than this, he died.
Third, by dying in obedience to the Father’s plan to save sinners, Jesus was exalted higher than anything or anyone else. Paul wrote that Jesus’ humble obedience led to his great exaltation. Now, every knee will bow before him and every tongue confess his lordship. Some will do this willingly and joyfully as they enter the delight of eternity. Others will do this with broken hearts as they realize their choice of sin has earned its just consequence. But every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.
In this, Paul wrote that Jesus left us an example. We are to have the same mind. We are to see ourselves as servants to others, willing to lay aside our good for their best, just as Jesus took on weakness, limitations, and death for our best.
Again, this isn’t self-abasement, but a refocusing. Our best comes from serving others for their best. Just as in Matthew 20, Jesus didn’t chastise the disciples’ desire for greatness, but he refocused it. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:26-27). True exaltation comes by serving others and building them up.
So, look to this example of Jesus. He gave himself for our best, let us give ourselves for the best of others.
New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.