Week 6: Philippians 2:5-11
Warm Up Before the Hike
Share with your friend(s) one of your most embarrassing or humiliating moments.
Last week Edna pointed to the unity we have as believers through union with Jesus in Philippians 2:1-4 while challenging us to think about how we contribute to disunity. She highlighted the reality that unity thrives where there’s a spirit of concern and care for others as opposed to pride and self-promotion. I can become self-absorbed about my daily to do’s and how I come across to others while forgetting to think through their needs. I am grateful for God’s Spirit reminding me to seek His mind. This week we will look at the next 6 verses in Paul’s letter which elaborate on the mind of Christ.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Observation: What does the passage say?
Cause/Effect – being in Christ Jesus means the believers can exercise His mind (vs. 5)
Contrast – Jesus existed in the form of God but did not hold onto His rights but instead emptied Himself to become a human (vss. 6-7)
Cause/Effect – being born as a man caused Jesus to assume the role of servant and become obedient to death on a cross (vs. 7)
Similar ideas/terms – born in the likeness of men and found in human form (vs. 7-8), highly exalted and bestowed on Him (vs. 9), every knee bow and every tongue confess (vs.9)
Cause/Effect – Jesus’ obedience gave Him a name above every name which results in every person eventually acknowledging He is Lord which brings God glory (vs. 9)
Interpretation: What does the passage mean?
Jesus exemplified humility in the way He thought about His divine nature. He didn’t hang on to His rights to remain in heaven as an equal to God. Instead He exchanged His immense privilege as the all-knowing, all-powerful Son of God in heaven to become God incarnate and take on the form of a human body. He was willing to limit himself to becoming a baby who was rocked, a child who played, a young man who was trained in carpentry, and the homeless Son of Man who faced a ministry of being misunderstood, rejected, and tortured on a cross. His sacrifice was great and yet the reward for His obedience is beyond measure. Like a trophy, the Father gave Jesus the name above any other name which will move those He created to acknowledge He is Lord while bowing their knees at the unfathomable realization of His majesty and authority.
It is mind blowing to try to understand the incarnation of Jesus as a man. Scholars throughout the centuries attempt to explain how Jesus became a person and maintained His divinity. Below is an explanation offered in Sonic Light:
“. . .Taking humanity imposed certain restrictions on Jesus Christ, including those involved in possessing a physical body and a human, though not a sinful, nature. He laid aside the glory and freedom that His former manner of existence afforded Him when He became a man (cf. John 17:5). He became dependent on the Father in a different sense than had been true formerly. He gave up “His rights as God the Son.”
Jesus received a reward for His obedience so believers can expect to be rewarded for their obedience. Sonic Light explains,
“The exaltation of Jesus Christ is as much a motivation for the Christian to live a life of submissive humility as is His incarnation. God will reward a life of self-denial now and in the future. That is the obvious implication of Paul’s illustration. Is it not selfish to serve the Lord for a reward? Was it selfish for Jesus to endure what He did because He knew He would receive a reward? Motivation is the key. If we submit to God and to one another for the glory of God, as Jesus did, rather than for selfish glory, our motivation is correct.”
Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to my life?
Unity flourishes where there is an attitude of humility and servitude. As believers, we can access the mind of Christ so that we think about others and ourselves in a way that reflects the humility Jesus demonstrated.
*Meditate on the amazing reality of Jesus coming to earth in human form. Look at the phrases which describe Jesus’ mindset and spend some time in prayer together, praising Him.
*To paraphrase pastor and theologian Timothy Keller, “the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself; it is thinking of myself less.” Pray for yourself along these lines.
*A humble attitude shows itself in humble behavior. Dr. Constable in Sonic Light makes the following statements about a servant:
A servant serves others even when it is inconvenient.
A servant serves even people that he or she dislikes.
A servant serves even when he or she dislikes the work.
A servant serves even when he or she receives no personal satisfaction.
A servant serves with an attitude of enabling another.
Who can you serve this week? How do you plan on doing so?
Scripture Memory and Homework
Continuing memorizing this beautiful passage in 2:1-6. I find it helpful to say the Scripture out loud. When I asked my friend if I could practice saying it her, she heartily agreed, and as I did so, it showed me my gaps. For next week work through the rhythm of observation, interpretation, and application for 2:12-18.
We talked about how the apostle Paul is literally confined in prison as he writes to the believers at Philippi. In spite of his hardships, Paul served others through his words, behavior, and heart. He must have drawn much comfort from meditating on Jesus’ “confinement” to a human body. You and I may feel “confined” in some way to a prison of circumstances. I pray we experience joy this week through serving others as we draw strength from the Spirit of Jesus living in us.