Summary: Those who humble themselves will be exalted.
There is a summer tradition at our church called the Vineyard Family Reunion. For one weekend we shamelessly throw a big party. Out of that tradition emerged something we’ve done over the past few years called the “Not So Amazing Race”. It’s this city-wide scavenger hunt that has 20+ teams doing crazy stuff all over Grove City. One summer, my wife joined up with 3 other high school students from our H.S. ministry to form a team for this race. Week after week as they got closer to competing in the race they got really psyched up! They went out and bought white T-Shirts and decorated them with their team name. They were constantly talking about how they were going to win first place because they were the BEST team ever! They were really talking the talk! They thought they were smarter, faster, and stronger than any other team.
So finally the day of the race came and they were convinced they were going to win. So the race began, they do the scavenger hunt activities, and they finally cross the finish line. To their surprise, they were not first place, or second place, or even third place. They came in DEAD LAST. They were shocked and probably a little bit humbled.
I heard about the results of the race when I got home and I tried to sound upset and disappointed and being a supportive husband. But, in the back of my mind I was wondering, “Was this, in a sense a kind of DIVINE VINDICATION?” Was God enforcing the principle we see in the Bible that says “Those who are first will be last.” Or “the greatest will be the least.” Or “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” This is actually the principle we are looking at today as we continue our series of “The Worthy Life”. Those who exalt themselves, will be humbled. Those who humble themselves, will be exalted.
Before we jump into today’s passage, I want to briefly give you an overview of The Worthy Life series so you can see the continuity of Paul’s thought. First, we saw that we are to live a life that is worthy of the gospel. Second, the church must have unity to advance the gospel. Third, humility is necessary in order to have unity. Fourth, Jesus Christ is our supreme role model of humility. Lastly, today, those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Turn in your Bibles to Philippians 2:9-11. I’ll read it to you.
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.
Right of the bat, Paul uses the word “Therefore”. So if we see the word “Therefore” we need to find out what it’s “There for”. In verse immediately before this passage, we see Jesus humbling himself in obedience to the Father. This obedience led to his death, and not just any kind of death, the most humiliating kind of death. To the Jew, if you were executed on a cross you were bearing the curse of God. Death on the cross was the most shameful form of execution. If we were to illustrate this death with a modern day equivalent, it would be like having someone on death row only--- to be executed by the electric chair. It’s a horrify death reserved for the most sinful criminals. In the New Testament, nobody wore a fashionable gold cross around their neck because that would be like wearing an electric chair around ours.
So Jesus was killed in the most shameful way imaginable. Let’s say that was the end of the story. We turn to the last page and Jesus is dead. If that were true, we could all go home right now and order a pizza. Seriously, what would be the point in meeting together? Why would we pray to someone who is dead? Why would we be crazy enough to bear the name of a criminal? BUT, the story didn’t end that way! In fact, there is a strange turn of events.
In verse 9, the subject of the story changes from Jesus to his Father. Jesus now takes the passive role and the Father takes the leading role. Point 1 in your outlines says, “God, the Father, initiates a ‘Divine Reversal’.” The Father sees the scandal involving his son and initiates a two-fold plan to reverse every false accusation against Jesus. The Father essentially overturns the world’s verdict.
Firstly, God elevates Jesus from the very lowest place to the very highest place. The world’s death sentence against Christ was reversed by God when he raised his son up from the grave. And, the honor bestowed upon Jesus was God’s outright rejection of the world’s judgment and shame. The world vilified Christ so the Father vindicated Christ.