Summary: Paul, Pt. 19
JESUS IS LORD (PHILIPPIANS 2:4-11)
An army corporal needed to use a pay phone, but didn’t have change for a dollar. He saw a lower-ranking private mopping the base’s corridor floors, and asked him, “Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?”
The private replied, “Yeah, sure.”
The corporal turned red and quickly reprimanded the private: “That’s no way to address a superior officer in the army! It is “Sir” and nothing else. Are we clear? Now let’s try it again. Private, do you have change for a dollar?”
The private glanced at the corporal and replied, “No, SIR!”
The Greek word “Lord” or kurie” is one of the most important words in the Bible. It occurs 75 times in the New Testament alone. It is the favorite title for Jesus. Jesus embraced the title more comfortably than the title “King” or even “Savior,” the latter occurring 24 times in the New Testament.
Petitioners in the Bible calling on Jesus loved to call him “Lord” to get his attention and plead their case, especially in the book of Matthew (Matt 8:2 – the leper, 8:6 – the centurion, 15:22 – the Canaanite woman, 17:15 – a mother of demon-possessed boy, 20:29-30 – two blind men) and the gospel of John (John 4:46 – the royal official, John 5:7 - the invalid, John 8:11 – the woman caught in adultery, John 9:36 – the man born blind).
James and John, 11:1, 17:5, 17:37, John 11:12, 13:25 – John, 14:5 – Thomas, 14:8 – Philip, 14:22 – the other Judas), especially Peter, who addressed Jesus as “Lord” 16 times, from their first encounter in Luke 5:8 (Luke 5:8, Matt. 14:28, 16:22 17:4, 18:21, John 6:68, 13:6, 13:24, 36, 37) to His arrest (Luke 22:33) and resurrection (John 21:7, 15, 16, 17, 21).
NIV used the phrase “Lord Jesus” 102 times, 59 of 102 times for the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ.”
Why does the Bible call Jesus Lord? What has He done to qualify for this prominent and powerful tile? Why is His lordship a personal declaration and commitment rather than a designated or formal title?
Jesus Became a Servant
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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, 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!
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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:4-11)
A rosebush grew near an apple tree. Everybody admired the beauty and the sweet scent of its roses. Seeing how everyone was praising it the rosebush became vainglorious. “Who can compare to me? And who is as important as I?” it asked. “My roses are a delight to the eye and the most fragrant among all flowers. True enough, the apple tree is much larger than I, but does it afford as much pleasure to people?”
The apple tree answered: “Even were you taller than I, with all your vaunted loveliness and all your sweet fragrance- you still could not compare to me in kindheartedness.” “Let me hear!” the rosebush asked challengingly. “What are the virtues you boast of?” The apple tree answered: You do not give your flowers to people unless you first prick them with your thorns. I, on the other hand, give my fruit even to those who throw stones at me!”
The word “attitude” is key in Philippians. It occurs eleven times in Philippians’ four chapters – one short of the 12 times in 16 chapters of Romans. Translating this word is clumsy. The same word has eight different translations in NIV: “feel” (Phil 1:7), “mind” (Phil 2:2, 3:19), “purpose” (Phil 2:2), “attitude” (Phil 2:5), “view” (Phil 3:15), “think” (Phil 3:15), “agree” (Phil 4:2), and “concern” (Phil 4:10, 4:10). The meaning is essentially “regard” or “consider.”
Two Greek words are necessary to sort out in order to understand what kind of servant Jesus was. The Greek word “nature” or “form” (“morphe” in Greek) occurs only three times in the Bible (Phil 2:6, 7, Mark 16:12), all in reference to Jesus. It speaks of his identity and uniqueness as God. Its only other use outside of Philippians is in Mark 16:12, where it is recorded Jesus “morphed” into a different form to two travelers on the way to Emmaus after His resurrection.