Summary: Paul pointed to the example of Jesus' humble service as a way for the Philippians to live in harmony with each other and receive a blessing from God.
A. A tv show I enjoyed watching in the seventies and eighties was the sitcom called The Jeffersons.
1. The show featured an African American family who became wealthy and moved out of a run-down area in Queens to a luxury apartment in Manhattan.
2. The theme song for the show was a catchy tune that included the words “movin’ on up,” and went like this: “Well we're movin on up, To the east side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky. Movin on up, To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie.”
B. Whenever we speak of advancement or promotion, we tend to think of it as upward motion—climbing the ladder, breaking the glass ceiling, getting on top of the heap, upgrading, elevating, etc.— but nothing says it better than “movin’ on up.”
1. “Up” is the direction everyone wants to go, for the path upward seems to be the path to fame, fortune, honor, and glory.
2. But isn’t it interesting that many of earth’s most precious substances can be acquired only by digging deep down?
3. The person who is willing to go very low could become very wealthy.
4. Engineers also understand that if they want to raise a tall building, first they need to go low and lay a deep foundation.
C. The same is true with spiritual promotion – the way up is down.
1. Jesus said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
2. The low path of humility is the only way to promotion with God.
3. D.L. Moody said it well, when he said, “The beginning of greatness is to be little, the increase of greatness is to be less, and the perfection of greatness is to be nothing.”
D. This is the message that Paul communicated to the Philippians in chapter 2 of his little letter.
1. Today, as we look at Philippians 2:5-11, we come to one of the greatest and most moving passages ever written about Jesus.
a. Some believe these verses were an early Christian hymn.
2. I am almost breathless before such a passage and I tremble at the thought of commenting on it for fear that I will say too much or too little and detract from the truth and power of this passage.
3. As we will see, these verses trace the life of Jesus from eternity past, through his birth, death, resurrection and ascension.
4. This is Paul’s theology about Jesus, and yet Paul did not share it with the Philippians for intellectual or systematic reasons.
5. Rather, Paul shared these truths about Jesus so that the Philippians could practically apply these truths to their lives and to the problems in the Philippian church.
6. As we saw in our sermon last week, Paul was pleading with the Philippians to live in unity and harmony with each other.
7. Paul challenged them to shed their personal ambitions and to put the needs of others ahead of their own.
8. And to give his plea the greatest motivation of all, Paul turned to the example of Jesus and challenged the Philippians to be like Jesus.
9. And what we will learn from today’s lesson is that the way up is down and when we follow the example of Jesus it not only leads to a blessing for others, it is the way to be blessed by God.
10. Let’s notice Jesus’ path to God’s blessing.
I. The Position Jesus Held (2:5-6)
A. Paul wrote: 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Phil. 2:5-6).
1. This passage clearly states that Jesus was co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father.
2. The phrase “being in very nature” or “form” means “the real essence of a thing.”
3. The phrase means that whatever it takes to make God God, Jesus possessed that same essence.
4. Whatever you can say about God, you can also say about Jesus.
5. Jesus was all that God is and possessed all that God had – He was and is 100% God.
B. Jesus was truly “equal” with God, which makes the next statement all the more remarkable – Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.
1. Jesus did not consider his position as something to be clutched and selfishly held on to.
2. Jesus was willing to let go of his position – to lay it aside.
3. There was no compulsion, no argument, no pleading with His Father to send someone else.
4. Rather, Jesus voluntarily traveled the distance between heaven and the bloody cross.
II. The Position Jesus Took (2:7-8)
A. Paul wrote: 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:7-8)