Hope Chapel - Sunday, January 9th
Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C16vqtRxRQ
Teaching Series - Doing Life with Jesus
Weekly Topic - Jesus’ Humiliation
Texts – Philippians 2:1-11, Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 8:6, 10:16-18, Luke 24:37-43, 1 Corinthians 15:20-21, Philippians 3:21
Last week, we introduced our theme for 2022 of “Doing Life with Jesus.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed this in your own life, but when we live with someone for long enough, our shared experiences can cause us to begin to think similarly, react in the same way, until we are able to literally finish one another’s sentences. After 25 years of marriage, Donald and I have learned not to be surprised when we find ourselves having the identical reaction or thought…at the exact same moment. We still retain our individuality, but we increasingly become like the ones we do life with.
The same is to be true of our relationship with Jesus. The more time we spend with Him, the more we will become like Him. The Bible tells us we are to become like Jesus in our actions, thoughts and words, but we cannot if He remains a veritable stranger. It is not good enough to claim to be one of His disciples…doing life with Him necessitates that we change into His likeness. There are many ways we need to change to become like Jesus, and today, we’re going to begin with one of the big ones.
We’re going to begin in Philippians 2:5 and cover what Paul has to tell us about Jesus’ character prior to circling around to discover what implications it has for us in our daily lives.
Philippians 2:5-8 – “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
What does it mean that Jesus ‘emptied himself?’ Some scholars have asserted that this means that Jesus gave up being God, at least temporarily, to become human. However, this understanding can’t be right; there are too many Scriptures to the contrary. The Bible authors make it clear that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. So, Jesus’ ‘emptying himself’ or ‘giving up’ His divine privileges cannot mean that He emptied Himself of His divinity; rather, He was fully God and added the form of fully man to become the first and only God-man. Imperishable God took the form of perishable humanity. But we are still left with the question of how we are to understand the phrase ‘emptied Himself.’ I believe we must look at the verses immediately preceding and following to gain an understanding.
In verse five, Paul makes a statement, telling Jesus’ followers what we are to strive for, “the same attitude as Christ.” In the next sentence he provides an explanation of what that attitude is—humility. Jesus was inarguably and fully God, but He chose of His own freewill to add to Himself the form of humanity and by doing so became God and man…simultaneously.
Now for verse seven. Paul again makes a statement that Jesus ‘emptied himself.’ Like in the previous section, what follows next is Paul’s explanation of what he means. Having studied this chapter over this past week, I think the clearest understanding of the act of Jesus ‘emptying Himself of His divine privileges’ could just as easily be stated, ‘He submitted Himself and the exercise of His divine attributes to the Father.’ He chose to refrain from acting of His own will, but would choose to fulfill the Father’s will…an act only possible through His attitude of humility. The next verses talk of what that humble submission looked like.
Paul continues by telling his readers that Jesus ‘took the humble position of a slave’ to God. His audience understood that a slave had no personal rights, but was required to act only according to the directions received from the master. As such, Jesus became answerable to God, even though God; He did not work independently, but obediently. And even when He would have preferred another option to His coming crucifixion, He was determined to submit to the will of the Father, not His own.
His submission required that He be born as a human being…and be raised by imperfect humans too. Jesus understood who He was—the Son of God—and at the age of twelve we know that He went to the Temple, the place that represented His Father. After Mary and Joseph found Him, He returned to Nazareth with them and submitted to their authority. The Creator took orders from the created. Another example of Jesus’ submission to the Father and of His humility.
Paul continues, to tell us that when he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God in all things. He traded Sovereignty for obscurity. Jesus didn’t just trade in heaven for a worldly life of luxury, celebrity and ease. He knew physical discomfort, grief, rejection and temptation. He grew up knowing little of the luxuries that wealth provides. He learned the skills of a carpenter and, I have no doubt, experienced His fair share of backaches, bruises, slivers, blackened thumb nails and sweat. And yet, His was a life lived perfectly sinless…despite all His opportunities to do otherwise as an eldest brother, living in the shadow of scandal that the timing of His conception and birth would have engendered, with all the temptations known to a young person since sin entered the world. Despite all of this, He submitted, with the will of the Father set firmly in His mind, determined to live in complete obedience.
But it was not simply in life that He submitted to God, but also in His death. He died a criminal’s death on a cross, taking on sin’s curse for us….and the shame with it. God’s plan required a sacrifice and like the prophet Isaiah He responded, “Here am I. Send me!”
As an aside, I just want to point out the fact that there is still so much about Jesus’ new nature as the God-man that we simply do not understand. The idea of God becoming man requires us to come to terms with what is known as oxymorons—two truths that are equally true, yet oppose one another, at least from our perspective. For instance, as God Jesus couldn’t die, but as a human He could. Equally confounding is the fact that as God, Jesus couldn’t sin, yet as a human being he could. Opposing truths, but true nonetheless.
Jesus willingly and completely humbled Himself to the will of the Father: He was born, died and was resurrected. Then what? Well, let’s keep reading…
Philippians 2:9-11 – “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
The humble slave is to become the glorified King. By dying as a sinless human, Jesus became the Conqueror of sin and death. He fulfilled the requirements of the Law and established a new covenant between God and humanity, one that will never need replacing. In the book of Hebrews, we read that, “Jesus is the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne”(Hebrews 12:2) and ‘Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises….This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” 18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices’ (Hebrews 8:6, 10:16-18).
God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the ‘name that is above all names.’ One day all of creation will acknowledge His Sovereignty and worship Him as Lord, all of which will bring glory to God the Father. Jesus’ humility has brought Him God’s reward. He fulfilled God’s good plan through His submission. All’s well that ends well, right? Jesus humbled Himself, became the God-man, and now He has returned to heaven in His pre-incarnational state…once again ‘God’ only. But that’s not quite right. Jesus’ “emptying of Himself” was not simply for the 30+ years He walked the face of the earth as a man.
He is now, eternally, the God-man. His new combined nature is His eternal nature. He is no less God-man today then He was 2,000 years ago. Where’s the proof?
FOLLOWERS REFLECTING CHRIST’S HUMILITY
Philippians 2:1-5 – “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
Paul began this section of his letter by asking four redundant questions;
The obvious answer to each of these is to be a resounding “Yes!” which is to provide us with the motivation for Paul’s much more difficult list as he begins to identify characteristics of humility that should be self-evident in the community of believers:
He is describing how we are to get along as the body of Christ.
Some of the items listed are given quick and easy assent, but not all. In fact, we often recoil against the notions that we are to consider others better than ourselves and are to put others needs ahead of own. When researching on this topic, it becomes clear that those outside of the Church condemn this level of humility because, without Jesus, they see only the potential for abuse: ‘the problem with putting others first, teaches them that you come second.’ However, they are completely missing the point of living as Jesus’ followers. I came across this quote that I think puts Jesus’ expectations in a clearer light: “If I consider you above me and you consider me above you, then a marvelous thing happens: we have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on” (Enduring Word). And in fact, Paul isn’t telling us not to care for ourselves, but rather that we are to look out not only for our own interests, but also the interests of others.
And we’ve got no excuse to do otherwise…our attitude is to be the same as Jesus’, who gave us the ultimate example of humility and secured our salvation through His submission to God the Father.
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!