Summary: Following the example of Jesus.
THE ATTITUDE OF CHRIST
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).
As we begin to evaluate this exhortation of the Apostle Paul, it is appropriate to ask some questions, not only of our text, but also of its context. Who is this Christ Jesus who is here held up as our supreme example? What did He do that is so exceptional? What was the result? And how, to what degree, and with what limitations, might we follow His example?
The Christ Jesus of our text is described in Philippians 2:6 as “the form of God.” The Greek phrase suggests not a mere shadow or outline, but the outward manifestation of God. He is the Word made flesh; Immanuel, God with us; the same who was in the beginning with God, without whom nothing was made that is made; by whom all things were created, and by whom all things consist; who says to His disciples: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). He is co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit from all eternity; the eternally begotten Son of God, who “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” - equal in deity; equal in Godhood. Such truths have simply to be accepted - they are taught in the Bible, and what we may not explain by human reason, we must accept by faith.
This same Christ Jesus, who in virtue merely of who He is, is worthy of praise and adoration, is said in Philippians 2:7 to have “made himself of no reputation.” The idea is that of a voluntary humbling of Himself, divesting Himself of the privileges of Godhead. In accordance with the language of the Servant songs of Isaiah, He now “took upon Himself the form of a servant,” of a slave - not just the visage of a slave, but making Himself lower than the low. At His incarnation, He was “made in the likeness of men” - not just an imitation, a phantom, but the reality: He became flesh, and dwelt among us; as bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, He was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and became actually and really a human being. He became what He had not been before, and so is, and continues to be, God and man in one Person forever. ’Tis mystery all, miracle of miracles, “God manifest in the flesh!” Thus clothed in true manhood, we read in Philippians 2:8, our Lord “humbled himself.” Born in a stable, raised in obscurity, rejected by His own people, yet Jesus was ever gentle and patient and longsuffering. In the upper room the most tender demonstration of His humility took place when he girded Himself with a towel, and washed the disciples’ feet. He “became obedient,” subjecting Himself to the law of God, demonstrating obedience to us as an example, and fulfilling obedience on our behalf. He was obedient to God, even “unto death” ; taking upon Himself the penalty of our sins, saving us from eternal death, and restoring us to God in this ultimate demonstration of God’s love. His death was even “the death of the Cross” - an accursed death to bear away the curse of our sin.
In the example set before us we see that it is not the end of the story, nor indeed can it be. Every sacrifice has its reward, and now Christ is elevated from the tomb to the throne: “God hath also highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9). The sealed sepulchre could not contain Him, He overcame death on our behalf, and countless were the witnesses to his resurrection. “He is not here, he is risen,” said the angel - and even now He is alive, seated, His work completed, at the right hand of God, ever interceding on our behalf. His is the “Name above every name,” and He is ruling, with His enemies as a footstool - and even those who said, “We will not have this king to reign over us” must submit to Him eventually; for “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” as Philippians 2:10-11 tell us in essence.