Power vs Humiliation, or when God becomes man.

Today, we’ll be looking at Philippians 2:5-8. Let’s dive in and read it together…

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

This passage is one of the lofty peaks of the New Testament.  Many scholars Philippians 2:5-11 to be an early church hymn, and many even speculate Paul himself even wrote the words. While much of the background is shrouded in mystery, the purpose and words are clear.

This is a hymn celebrating and exploring the life and meaning of Christ, and this passage is vital to the purpose of this letter. It’s the linchpin that holds the book together.

About this hymn: It’s broken down into two acts:  The Humiliation and The Exultation.

This week, we’ll be talking about the humiliation, and next week we’ll be taking a look at the Exultation.

The humiliation

Up to this point in Philippians, Paul has been talking a great deal about humility, and viewing others as better than yourself. With this passage, Paul is teaching the Philippians, and the church today, that it isn’t enough to know about Christ. We can all have knowledge about him, but that doesn’t do anything for us, or for the world. We must emulate him. We must do everything in our power to become like him.

Sometimes we look at Jesus as the man who died on the Cross and the one whose death brought about our forgiveness, right? We have the nice (or ugly) image of the passion of the Christ in our minds. We are grateful for the sacrifice. However, it’s far too easy to leave it at that. It’s far too easy to not take the next step.

Use it or…

People are tempted to use what they have to gain an advantage.

We see this all over the place.

The Innocent: Baseball. (The use of video to give pitchers or hitters an advantage)

The Corrupt: Insider trading (using private knowledge of a company to benefit your own personal bottom line).

This hymn reminds us of this difficult, yet important truth: Christ deliberately chose not to use equality with God for his own benefit.

With Christ’s power, it would have been easy to raise up an army and overthrow Rome, right?

We even read in Matthew 4, or what is known as the “temptation of Christ”:

…the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”

It had to have been tempting to use what was available to him

Christ knew the path he was to walk. He knew the end he would face. He knew that this would be the most difficult road he would ever have to walk, and he knew he could take a short cut. He could take the easy way out.

We find Christ often telling people, after being healed, to go and tell no-one what has just happened. We know human nature. We know people respond to the miraculous. The bigger, the better.

Christ wanted them to just look for a quick fix. He wanted to heal the heart, and they needed to experience the slow work of love.

Jesus knew that the flash of a public healing, casting out of demons or through winning theological debates would never be enough to truly change, redeem and restore.

Only invitations could do that.

(Stop by tomorrow as we explore what happened when deities collide)


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