Our Turn

This is the last blog on Philippians 2:1-11.?? An in this last blog I???d like to highlight the role we play.?? But first let???s take a look at the passage from start to finish.

??If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
?? Who, being in very nature
God,
????????????did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
?? but made himself nothing,
????????????taking the very nature
of a servant,
????????????being made in human likeness.
?? And being found in appearance as a man,
????????????he humbled himself
????????????and became obedient to death???
??????????????????even death on a cross!
?? Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
????????????and gave him the name that is above every name,
?? that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
????????????in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
?? and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
????????????to the glory of God the Father.

The passage starts with a series of if/then statements.?? It???s a great introduction.?? They lead naturally to the ???then of make my joy complete??? by being unified.?? This is not a unity of uniformity.?? It???s a unity of consider others better than yourselves.?? It???s not that we all are the same.?? We aren???t.?? But we consider the needs of others above our own.

And we consider the needs of others above our own because that???s what Christ did.?? He made himself nothing for our sake.?? He humbled himself for our sake.

And we are called to do the same.?? And when we do, Jesus Christ is exalted.?? When we do Jesus Christ???s name is lifted high.?? When we do Jesus Christ is revealed as Lord to fallen humanity.

There are two reasons we are to follow the example of Jesus Christ in this passage.?? First, he did it for us.?? Second, when we do Jesus Christ is revealed as Lord.

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Vindication

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
????????????and gave him the name that is above every name,
??that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
????????????in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
??and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
????????????to the glory of God the Father.?? Philippians 2:9-11

Finally, we???re at the end of the Christ hymn.?? In it we have the vindication of Jesus Christ through exaltation.

The exaltation is clear.?? God exalted him.?? God gave him the name above every name.?? That name is Lord.?? Jesus Christ is Lord.?? And at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I used to think the main point of these last three verses was the exaltation of Jesus Christ.?? And certainly that???s a big part.?? But here???s the problem.?? Does God exalt Jesus Christ because of what he did??? Is Lord a title Jesus earns??? That doesn???t seem right.?? Jesus was in very nature God at the start of the hymn.?? His status doesn???t change from the beginning of the hymn to the end.

Instead, I think the point of these last verses is vindication through exaltation.?? God vindicates Jesus Christ.?? The resurrection is a divine reversal of the judgment of the cross.?? This is very consistent with how Paul talks about the resurrection throughout his letters.

What changes at the end of the hymn is not Jesus??? status, but the recognition of his status from humanity.?? Jesus is revealed as Lord to us.?? We didn???t know that before the incarnation, before the crucifixion, before the resurrection and ascension.?? But now as followers of Jesus Christ we willingly confess Jesus Christ is Lord.?? At the end of history, all will confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

And what a different kind of Lord he is.?? The Lord of the universe is the one who came to serve and give his life for others because he is a servant.?? That???s the good news.?? The Lord of the Universe is one who serves the good of others.?? He is a great King.


Downward Mobility

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,?? who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,?? but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.?? Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)

In the first two blogs, we looked at single words.?? In this third blog, we'll take a birds-eye view of these verses.

From a bird's eye view, one thing becomes abundantly clear.?? Jesus Christ is downwardly mobile.?? He leaves heaven for earth to become human.?? Downward mobility.?? He enters our world by being born.?? He didn???t have to.?? He could have entered our world a thirty year old man.?? He doesn???t.?? He is born.?? Downward mobility.?? He is born a slave/servant.?? He is not born King Herod???s son.?? He is born to poor, humble parents (Joseph and Mary).?? He is born a slave/servant and his whole life is servanthood.?? Jesus Christ is downwardly mobile.?? We see this clearly in the incarnation.

Jesus Christ is downwardly mobile.?? We see this clearly in the crucifixion.?? Jesus Christ is obedient to death.?? The creator of life willingly experiences death.?? The sustainer of life willingly experiences death.?? The redeemer of life, the one who is re-creating and will re-create all things willingly experiences death.?? Jesus??? death is a willing and complete humiliation given his status as God.??

Jesus Christ is downwardly mobile.?? And Jesus Christ does not die any death.?? Jesus Christ dies the lowest form of death possible:?? crucifixion.?? Jesus is made a public spectacle before humanity.?? Crucifixion was more than a death sentence.?? Crucifixion was an intentional public humiliation of the person.?? Jesus was stripped, beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross publically for all to see.?? Moreover, crucifixion signified divine abandonment.?? Moses tells us:?? ???Cursed is anyone hung on a tree.????? When the onlookers mock Jesus as being abandoned by God, they are correct.?? Jesus himself cries out:?? ???My God, my God why have you forsaken me?????? Paul tells us that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.?? It???s impossible to sink lower than being rejected by man, abandoned by God, and falling under God???s curse.

Jesus Christ is downwardly mobile.?? Jesus Christ is willingly downwardly mobile.?? Jesus Christ is willingly downwardly mobile for our sake.

And we are called to do the same.?? We are called to downward mobility for the good of others.?? Paul tells us quite clearly:?? Have this attitude among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

This is so counter-cultural that it sounds ridiculous.?? We want to be upwardly mobile.?? We want to get ahead.?? We want to be successful.?? We want to achieve.?? And what???s wrong with that??? Nothing.??

But the way to get ahead, the way to be successful, the way to achieve is through downward mobility.?? The way to get ahead, the way to be successful, the way to achieve is consider other???s interests above our own.?? They way to get ahead, the way to be successful, the way to achieve is follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is vindicated through exaltation (we???ll see that in the next blog).?? We will be too.?? But first he descends.?? First, he lowers himself.?? First he humbles himself.?? He does this all for the good of others.?? And we must do the same. ??????


Emptied Himself

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ??who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,?? but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form.?? Philippians 2:5-7 (ESV)

In the first blog, we looked at one word.?? In this second blog, we???ll also look at one word.?? In the ESV it???s translated ???emptied himself??? in the NIV it???s ???made himself nothing???.?? The word is kenosis.

In text emphasizes that Christ did this to himself.?? It was voluntary.?? He emptied himself.?? He was not emptied.?? He made himself nothing.?? He was not made nothing by someone else.?? The eternal Son willingly choose to become human.

The text also clarifies what this means by three adverbial phrases.?? Taking the form of a servant.?? Being born in the likeness of men.?? And being found in human form.?? Notice the repetition of the word form.?? Although he was in the form of God he took the form of a servant, the form of a man.?? Or as we saw in the last blog, because he was in the form of God he took the form or a servant, the form of a man.

Kenosis is incarnation.?? The eternal Son emptied himself, made himself nothing by becoming a human being, by being born.?? It's good to pause here and reflect on how incredible the incarnation is.?? It's hard to believe that God would willingly lower himself to our level.?? Who would do such a thing??? The God we worship.

This everyone agrees with.?? But there is debate.?? Jesus Christ is fully God.?? Jesus Christ is fully human.?? But how exactly does that work??? Some argue that Jesus divested himself of some divine attributes to become fully human.?? Others argue that Jesus didn???t divest himself of any divine attributes so as to remain fully God.

I???m inclined towards the former.?? For one thing, Jesus divested himself of all-presence.?? God is spirit and present everywhere, but Jesus Christ had a body located in time and space.?? If Jesus was in Nazereth, he wasn???t in Jerusalem.?? And instead of thinking that Jesus retained omniscience and omnipotence, I???d prefer to think he relied on the Holy Spirit to reveal and empower him.?? And so when Jesus says he does not know the day or hour of his return, I think he means he does not know the day or hour of his return.?? And I???d prefer to think Jesus was like us in everyway, except without sin.

But it???s always difficult to figure out exactly how Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human simultaneously.?? If Jesus is not fully God, we???re in big trouble.?? If Jesus is not fully human, we???re in big trouble.?? Thankfully for us he???s both.

And ultimately we don???t have to figure out how.?? The fact of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of our faith.?? It happened.?? We don???t have to fully understand it and we never will.?? But I do like to try.?? ????


Although/Because

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:?? Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.?? Philippians 2:5-6

As promised I'll be posting some blogs on what I'm learning about Paul's wonderful letter to the Philippians.?? Because Philippians 2:1-11 is so rich, I'll post several blogs on this section this week.?? Next week I'll move on to chapter three.?? But the first entry will be about a single word.

The first verb in Philippians 2:6 is the participle (verbal adjective/adverb) translated here as "being".?? The verb can be translated as simply ???being??? or as adversative ???although??? or causative ???because???.

If translated as ???although???, the participle stresses the status differential between being God and becoming human.?? Although Christ is God, he willingly became human.?? This translation highlights what Paul says later.?? That Christ did not consider equality with God something to be grasped or exploited.?? In short it stresses the hard-to-believe selfless action of God.

If translated as ???because???, the participle stresses the hard-to-believe character of God.?? Because Jesus is God, he empties himself, humbles himself, becomes a man, a servant.?? In this view what Jesus is doing is not out of character for God but rather totally in character for God.?? Because God is a servant, God becomes a man, a slave who willingly dies for all humanity.

I???m inclined to see the wisdom of God revealing himself through the Greek language.?? I think both meanings are true.?? Both meanings reveal something of God.?? The one highlights the incredible action of God, the other highlight the incredible character of God.

What a God we worship!?? God does not act as we???d expect.?? His actions from the standpoint of sinful humanity are incredible.?? Even more, this incredible action is totally in God???s character.

God is a servant.?? He acts like a servant because He is a servant–it's His character.