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Summary: The ultimate example of humility: the 'self-emptying' of Christ. The obedience of the Cross; the sacrifice accepted. "Let this mind be in you!"

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THE HUMILITY OF CHRIST

Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus placed a little child in the midst of His followers telling them that they had to be like a little child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. By this one symbolic act He teaches us to accept the kingdom of God with the humility and trust of children.

Jesus not only taught humility, but lived it. His journey to the Cross was the most selfless, self-giving, loving act ever performed. He who is the only begotten Son of God gave Himself as the full final sacrifice for the sins of His people. He suffered the wrath of God against sin in His own holy Person, with the ultimate indignity of separation from God the Father.

1. THE EXAMPLE OF HUMILITY (Philippians 2:6)

In teaching the Philippians the need for humility, the Apostle Paul takes Jesus Himself as his model.

Elsewhere Paul urges, “Be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:16), and of course we must seek to be like the best of Christians because they are the most like Christ (Philippians 3:17).

Most importantly, we must follow the example of Jesus. After urging against self-interest (Philippians 2:4), Paul says “Let this mind be in you…” (Philippians 2:5). Paul goes on to describe the wonderful self-emptying of Jesus.

In heaven Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, could enjoy all the benefits of equality with God (Philippians 2:6). However, there came a juncture in the counsels of eternity when God the Father, looking at a world spoiled by sin and in need of a redeemer to put things right between God and man, asked “Whom shall I send?” Jesus uttered the historical answer of Isaiah: “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

In time Jesus would appear on the stage of history. Foreseen by King David, He uttered the words, “Lo I come; in the roll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8 ).

He taught His disciples and us to pray, “Thy will be done.” He carried that attitude to the garden of Gethsemane, and the cross of Calvary, praying, “Not my will, but yours be done!”

2. THE SELF-EMPTYING OF CHRIST (Philippians 2:7)

The incarnation of Christ involved Jesus holding back from the privileges of His Divine Son-ship in order to take upon Himself our frailties and weakness (but not our tendency to sin, as He remains God!) By becoming man, He was able to bring mankind into the Godhead. As one ancient writer said, “He became what He was not so that we might become what He is.”

We may never be equal with Jesus in His unique Son-ship. “But to all the people who received Him, He gave the right (the power, the authority) to become sons of God” (John 1:12). He did this so that His people might be allowed to partake of His privileges by entering into the family of God, male and female becoming entitled to the rights of sons. Paul describes this process as a self-emptying (Philippians 2:7).

Jesus emptied Himself of all that singled Him out as equal with God, so that sinners like you and I can have fellowship with the God whom we have offended. He was born of a woman, and laid in a manger. He lived as an ordinary man until the time came for His ministry to begin.

He knew what it was to suffer want, to be hungry, to be thirsty, to be tired. He knew pain, suffering and bereavement. He wept real tears. He loved and served His fellow man in every way that He could throughout His time on earth. In all things Jesus obeyed God, as no mere man can do.

3. THE OBEDIENCE OF THE CROSS (Philippians 2:8)

Jesus’ obedience reached beyond the keeping of commandments, to the ultimate indignity of “becoming sin for us, who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus being born and living a good life was not enough to secure salvation for mankind. A price had to be paid: the penalty of our sins.

In Jesus, God was paying that price. He gave His only-begotten Son to die for our sins. Only He could do it, because only He is untarnished by sin.

Jesus had to go all the way to the Cross (Philippians 2:8). This was the ultimate indignity. In Roman times crucifixion was reserved for the lowest of the low: those who were classed as slaves. In fact, when we are told that Jesus became a servant (Philippians 2:7), the Greek word used is the word we translate “slave!”

When Jesus died, all the sins of all His people were laid upon Him. He became sin for us, but was never a sinner like us!

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