Summary: The life of John paton illustrates the principles taught by Jesus’ life.
Dying to Self and the Call to Missions
The Ministry of John Paton
Steve Hanchett, pastor
Berry Road Baptist Church
December 17, 2000
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking on himself the form of a servant and coming in the likeness of man. And being found in the appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, of those on the earth, and those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
This month we have been looking at this great passage about Christ in light of what it teaches us about what it means to be a missionary. So far we have seen how Christ’s example shows us that to follow him means we must be willing to leave behind our comfort in order to pursuing proclaiming the gospel in the world. Secondly, we saw last week that to follow Christ means that we must be willing to adapt ourselves to the culture of the people we are trying to reach with the gospel. In the first week we saw how Lottie Moon left the comfort of her American home and lifestyle to carry the gospel to China. Last week we looked at Hudson Taylor’s life and how he adapted Chinese culture and lifestyle in order to relate the gospel to the Chinese people
Let’s take another look this week at what this passage teaches us about Christ. Already we have seen that it says that Jesus “being in the form of God did not think it robbery to be equal with God.” That is, he did not feel compelled to cling to His divine glory. So Christ left the glory and joy of heaven to bring salvation to us. The second point we see in this passage is that it says that Jesus “made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of man.” So he clothed himself in our humanity in order to bring us the good news. Today what we are going to see is that Christ’s coming involved a dying to himself. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross” is the way it is stated in this passage.
There are two crucial statements this passage makes about the death of Christ. The first is that this was an act of obedience on the part of Jesus Christ. His death on the cross was not something outside the realm of God’s will. To the contrary, it was smack dab in the middle of the will of God. To avoid the cross would have been an act of disobedience. In recognition of the will of God in his going to the cross, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsamane, “Not my will, by thine.” The plan of God for the salvation of man required the death of Christ.
But we need to also note that while it was a part of the Father’s plan, it was still Jesus’ voluntary choice to go to the cross. He made it clear many times that, “no one takes my life from me, I lay it down.” When Jesus died on the cross he did so because he chose to give up his life for the sake of sinful men. He was not forced to go to the cross by the armies or Rome, the leaders of the Jews, by Pilate, or Herod, or the High Priest. While they all played a part and they all incurred their own guilt, we must recognize that Jesus had the power and resources to put an end to their evil plot at any time. But he did not do so because it was necessary for him to die.
The second statement this passage makes about the death of Christ is that it was an act of great humility. Crucifixion was the cruelest of all punishments. It was also the most humiliating in that it exposed the naked criminal to public view and the taunting of the people who callously gathered around the place of execution. It was a humiliating way to die. Thus, we see the passage tells us that Jesus humbled himself and gave himself over to die in this way.
Further, it was also an act of humility in that Jesus held back his power and glory and gave himself over as a lamb being led to the slaughter into the hands of sinful men. He allowed them to mock him, spit on him and beat him without mercy. All the while he opened not his mouth to defend his honor or dignity.