He Humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-11)
There are times in life that I’ve really embarrassed myself; other times I have been utterly humiliated by something I did. When I had my first job, I lived on the second floor of an apartment building that the church owned. The church rented the lower floor to Allstate Insurance. When I bought my first car, I called different insurance agencies in town, but no one was going to give me a lower rate than the agency downstairs, so I signed up.
A few months later, Tammy and I began to date. One snow day, she asked me to come over to her house for lunch. I was looking out my window when she called and not a soul was behind my car. I went down my stairs, jumped in my car and started it up. While I was going down the stairs, the insurance claims adjuster had come in and parked right behind me. I never saw his car. Instead, I backed right into it, and I had to go into my insurance company and tell them that I had hit one of their vehicles! I was utterly humiliated!
I’m sure there are times in your life that you have gone far past embarrassment to humiliation. Maybe you’ve said the wrong thing to the wrong person. Maybe something happened at work that was very much your fault.
Whatever humiliation we’ve faced in life was unintentional. I never would have hit the claims adjuster’s car for anything! Whatever humiliation you have faced in life certainly wasn’t planned.
Yet, Paul says in Philippians 2 that Jesus “humbled Himself.” You might be thinking: “Justin, there’s a big difference in Jesus’ humbling Himself and in humiliation. There is some truth in that, but the cross was the most humiliating form of capital punishment ever devised by man. The cross was so humiliating that Roman citizens could only be crucified in the most extreme cases. The word “crucifixion” wasn’t mentioned in polite company, and from the third century BC on the word was used by the lower classes as a vulgar insult. Cicero called crucifixion “the most cruel and disgusting penalty.” Josephus called crucifixion “the most wretched of deaths.” You think you’ve been humiliated in life? You’ve never been crucified.
This morning, Paul is going to tell us: “Jesus Christ humbled Himself for you!”
Scripture (Philippians 2:5-11)
As we mentioned last week, there are some church “problems” in Philippi. In order to encourage humility in that congregation, Paul holds up Jesus as an example.
Jesus is fully God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). Jesus is “the express image of His person” (Heb 1:3).
While He is fully God, Jesus “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” The Greek word for “robbery” means something that you just keep holding onto. Jesus didn’t use His equality with God to gain anything for Himself–that is certainly unlike many pagan gods who are jealous and fight amongst themselves.
Jesus “made Himself of no reputation.” Literally this is “He emptied Himself.” In other words, He gave up certain divine prerogatives to come to this world. He gave up the right not to be tempted. He gave up the right not to die.
He took the form of a servant and appeared in the likeness of men. Jesus came to serve others. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). The Creator of the universe came to this earth to serve. Try to wrap your brain around that amazing love and humility! He appeared in the likeness of men. He had to appear in the likeness of men in order to die for sin (Heb 2:14). He had to appear in the likeness of men in order to suffer temptation and offer help in time of temptation (Heb 4:14-16).
He humbled Himself even to the point of the death of the cross.
The whole of the Incarnation shows great humility, but He went to the cross and died for my sins. Has greater love ever been known in the history of the universe? A God who becomes man to die for man! “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).
Because Jesus humbled Himself so greatly, God has highly exalted Him. God raised Jesus from the dead and has seated Him at His right hand. Ephesians 1:19-23. Hebrews 1:1-4. Because Jesus willingly went to the cross, God has placed Him at the highest place.
At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. There is coming a day when every created being is going to bow the knee before Jesus Christ! Those in heaven–Every angel and every heavenly being will give glory to Jesus. Those on earth–Every person living when Jesus comes again will bow the knee before Him. Those under the earth: Every person in his grave will be resurrected and will bow the knee before Jesus. Every demon–even Satan himself–will come before Jesus and bow the knee.
The only question is whether we will do so voluntarily or not. It’s not a question about whether or not our knees will bow before Jesus. The only question is whether we will do so voluntarily in this life or if we’ll bow the knee only when He comes again.
Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. When we are bowing low before the throne of Jesus, our tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every Muslim, every Buddhist, every atheist, everyone who has used the Lord’s name in vain will open the mouth, not to curse, but to bless the precious name of Jesus!
“Jesus Christ humbled Himself for you!” How should you then live?
Jesus’ death on the cross means that you need to put away sin. Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet 2:24). Jesus did not simply die for me so that I could have the forgiveness of my sins. He died for me so that I might put away sin. We can’t treat the death of Jesus lightly. His death was a costly sacrifice for my sins. Therefore, I cannot treat sin lightly!
What sins do you need to get rid of? If you need help, see me or one of the elders. We’d be happy to help. But, the time has come for us to remove sin from our lives!
Jesus’ death on the cross means that I need to serve Him. How much He served me when He went to that old, rugged cross. How much I need to serve Him because of it! Hebrews 13:20-21. What can you do in the service of your King? As Jesus taught in the Parable of the Talents, we have different abilities. What can you do to honor Jesus this week?
Understand that a day is coming when you’re going to bow before Jesus. You have freewill in this world. You can choose to bow the knee and to serve Him, or you can choose to rebel against His will. But, when you stand before the Lord Jesus in judgment, you will bow the knee. Revelation 20:11-15. Being cast into the lake of fire is bending the knee in a big way–there will be no denying that Jesus is Lord, there will be nothing but submission to His will.
This very day you have an opportunity to bow the knee before Jesus, to confess His name and to walk with Him. Won’t you submit to His will and confess His precious name this very moment?