Expository Sermon from Philippians 2:5-11 | Kneel at the Cross

Kneel at the Cross

Kneel at the Cross (Philippians 2:5-11)

When RJ was about 5 or 6, I took him to Beckley, West Virginia, where we waited several hours to see George W. Bush, who at that time was President of the United States. After those several hours of waiting, we finally got to sit down in the arena where President Bush would be speaking. Different speakers prepped the crowd for the President’s arrival. Finally, the lights dimmed, music began to blare, a spotlight shone on one corner of the arena, and there stood the President of the United States.

Now, let me make one thing clear—I don’t care what your politics are, there’s nothing like holding up your child and pointing out the President of the United States. I don’t care if the President had been Obama or Bush or Reagan or Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or Donald Trump or whoever, holding RJ so he could see the President is a special memory for me.

I’m sure some of you have seen or perhaps even met a President or two. Some of you may have been privileged enough to take your children and meet a President. Some of you may have met someone else you consider important—perhaps a leading researcher in your field or someone who made history or someone who starred in your favorite TV show or who sang your favorite song.

In this morning’s text, Paul tells us about the day when we will meet Jesus. There’s not going to be any holding up your son to see him. You won’t be shaking hands. You won’t be asking for an autograph. Instead, you’re going to bow your knee and you’re going to confess his name with your tongue.

This morning, we want to think about bowing before Jesus on that last day in order that we might live lives which bow before him. As we think about the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, we learn this truth: “You shall honor Jesus.” There’s coming a day when your free will shall be a thing of the past and you’re going to honor Jesus whether you like it or not.

So, let’s look at the humiliation and exaltation of the Christ to learn the truth “You shall honor Jesus” and examine how we can live that truth everyday.

Scripture (Philippians 2:5-11)

verse 5:

Instead of backbiting and arguing and arrogance, the Philippians needed to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

verse 6:

Jesus is “in very nature God.” Some scholars see an allusion here to Genesis 1 where Adam was created in the likeness and image of God. If there is an allusion to Adam, it’s an interesting one; Adam, you recall wanted to be like God and ate the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:5). Jesus, on the other hand, gave up his divine prerogatives and became a man.

Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. The Greek here means to grasp without a willingness to let go. Jesus, in other words, didn’t cling so tightly to his divine prerogatives that he was unwilling to serve others.

verse 7:

Instead, he took the form of a servant and became a man. It was necessary in order for the Christ to become a man that he might serve as a sympathetic high priest and die for man.

verse 8:

Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the death on a cross. In antiquity, when writers wanted to emphasize a point, they would repeat a word. Thus, Paul is wanting to emphasize that Jesus’s obedience culminated in his death.

verse 9:

Because Jesus humbled himself, God exalted him above all things and gave him the highest name. We know that God exalts those who humble themselves: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (Js 4:10). God has exalted Jesus above all:

    • Hebrews 1:3: “After [Jesus] had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
    • In Revelation, the four living creatures and 24 elders sing a song of praise to the Lamb, saying, Revelation 5:9-10.

verses 10-11:

Jesus has been so highly exalted that every knee shall bow at his name. Paul mentions three locations where every knee shall bow.

      1. In heaven—angelic and other heavenly beings shall bow before Jesus.
      2. On earth—everyone alive when Jesus returns.
      3. Under the earth—everyone who is asleep in the dust when the Lord returns; it’s possible that “under the earth” would include Satan and his demonic forces, too.

Bowing is done in honor of a king; the idea here is that Jesus will be worshiped by all at his return. In John’s heavenly vision, once the Lamb took the scroll, “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb” (Rev 5:8). One day, every created being shall fall down before the Lamb.

Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. When Jesus asked the disciples who he was, Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). One day all men, angels, and even Satan himself will make that affirmation. One day Donald Trump and Joe Biden will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; one day Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Muhammad Atta, and Timothy McVeigh will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; one day Mohammad, Buddha, and Confucius shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. One day you will stand before that throne and bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. You see, one day “You shall honor Jesus.


You shall honor Jesus.” On that Great Day, you will have no choice but to honor Jesus—you will have no choice but to bow the knee and to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; no free will; no denying the Father’s wish; no keeping your knee straight; no keeping your tongue still—“You shall honor Jesus.

But, we who are his people—those who bear his name—should really make honoring Jesus a way of life. We shall honor him at that last day; why not honor him now? How can we do so?

You bow before Jesus by recognizing that he is worthy of honor.

On that great day, God will not remove our free will to bow before Jesus and confess his Lordship for just any reason—Jesus deserves that praise. Jesus died for man’s sin and was raised to life; he therefore deserves our praise.

      • After Jesus died for man and was raised back to life, he met the disciples in Galilee. “When they saw him, they worshiped him” (Matt 28:17).
      • Hebrews 1:3: “After [Jesus] had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
      • In Revelation, the four living creatures and 24 elders praise Jesus, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10).
      • In this morning’s text, Paul says it’s because Jesus became obedient to death on a cross that God has exalted him.

Why is Jesus worthy of your praise and honor? Because he went to Golgotha’s cross to save you from all your sins and he was raised back to life so you can live forever. Without the work of Jesus, you would be damned to an eternity in a devil’s hell and you would never be raised from the dead. Is that not a marvelous reason to bow before Jesus and to confess his name?

You bow before Jesus by putting him first in your life.

If Jesus gave up the glory of heaven to save you from your sin, can you not give up whatever in your life that stands in the way of your service to him? Jesus calls upon us to put him first: “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Lk 14:33).

What do you need to give up to honor Jesus? What stands in the way of giving Jesus your all? Is it recreation that keeps you from engaging in prayer? Is it attempting to climb the corporate ladder that keeps you from worshiping faithfully? Is it sports that keeps you from spending time in Scripture? Is it some sin that prevents you guys from being the spiritual leader in your home? Is it arrogance or fear that keeps you from setting an example before your friends and family?

Examine yourself. What do you need to rid yourself of to put Jesus in the place of honor in your life?

You bow before Jesus by honoring him in worship.

We’ve gathered this morning to worship; those of you participating from home are worshiping this morning. However, are we going through the motions, or are we bowing before Jesus’s throne as we assemble?

Jesus knew that some would simply go through the motions of worship: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matt 15:8; cf Is 29:13). Where is your heart this morning? As we’ve been lead in prayer, did you go to your Father’s throne or did your mind wander? As we sang, did you do so with thankfulness in your heart or did you think about how you don’t like that song? As we communed at the Lord’s table, did you go back to Golgotha’s tree or did your mind go to lunch? Are you allowing the Word this morning to penetrate your heart? Are you fixing to give generously? How much do you bow before Jesus when we worship?

You bow before Jesus by confessing his name.

You know that to be saved, we must confess the name of Jesus.

      • Timothy did so: “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim 6:12).
      • Jesus told us we must make that confession: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Matt 10:32).
      • Confession of faith leads to salvation: Romans 10:9-10.

If you have not yet confessed the precious name of Jesus, let me urge you to do so this very day.

However, most of us are in Christ and we’ve made that good confession. But are we continuing to make that good confession? Do those who know us see Jesus living in us? Are we too embarrassed to act like Jesus at work? Do we simply go along with our friends? Do we pattern our home life after the Master? Are we truly confessing Jesus? Do you need to come and confess Jesus this morning?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Deer Park Church of Christ in Deer Park, Texas.

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