DIVINE CHRIST – SERVANT OF HUMANITY
In Philippians 2, Paul speaks clearly of the divinity of Christ, but also of His humiliation and exaltation. He became the servant of all and was obedient to death on a cross. So He became the greatest of all and is exalted above all others.
We are instructed to be of the same mind a Christ – as humble servants. For in service of others we are a glory to God and a blessing to one another. How different this is from the spirit of our age, in which people exalt their thoughts and feelings even above the word of Go
The sermon for The Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palmarum), March 28, 2021, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.
Philippians 2:5–11 (CSB)
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
7 Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
9 For this reason God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11 and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus: We are defended by the most powerful military in the world. We have access to the most powerful antibiotics ever produced. Whenever we plug into a light socket we are connecting to turbines with millions of horsepower. But these are mere playthings to the God who created the universe and cast blazing suns across the heavens.
For He is all-powerful. He has cast the mightiest spirit-beings created, the angels (the fallen ones), down to hell, and has held them in bondage, accomplishing a victory that matters in heaven and on earth.
But in our text today and as the Palm Sunday message itself, we consider that God is so gracious that He did not just choose victory, but victory FOR US. In His omnipotence, God could have cast us down with Satan, whose pawns we are when we are born. But in His grace, God took
THE HUMBLE PATH TO VICTORY
- God Took the Humble Path To Include Us
- Victory Took Christ from the Depths to the Heights
- III. This Should Be Our Attitude Too
- God Took the Humble Path To Include Us
Every part of this is true: GOD took the humble path to include us. God took the HUMBLE path to include us. God took the humble path TO INCLUDE US.
By saying all three of these things, here in our text, Paul reveals a great mystery of our salvation. (A “mystery” is something that is unknown, that is not understood, unless the answer is revealed. This is why the “whodunits” are called mysteries.)
The first truth revealed is that GOD is the only one who can take the path that leads to our salvation: 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… [made himself nothing]
For whoever was to accomplish our salvation, must possess the righteousness of God Himself. What is more, He must be able to stand in for all of us, every one. Finally, He must be able to give up His life and take it again. All of this can be accomplished only by God Himself.
The second truth is that whoever is to save the human race had to live as we live, suffer as we suffer, be under the law as we are under the law, and die as we die. 7 but [He] 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.
And the third is that God did this so that YOU would not be left out of His salvation. (He took the form a servant, like a true human being.) John puts it this way: 1 John 2:2 (ESV) 2 He is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 4:10 (ESV) 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for [as the one who would turn aside His wrath, taking away] our sins.
What this boils down to is that God the Son did what only He could do and did the only thing that could save us – humbling himself to our level, so that YOU WOULD NOT BE LEFT OUT, SO THAT YOU WOULD BE INCLUDED IN His work of salvation.
Yes, you. Because your sin had separated you from God. Here you and I are, wandering on our way through life, not serving, but seeking to be served and serving ourselves, as though we belong only to ourselves.
Christ became servant of all so that nobody would be left out of His saving work.
GOD took the humble path to include us. God took the HUMBLE path to include us. God took the humble path TO INCLUDE US.
2. Victory Took Christ from the Depths to the Heights
And he was successful. He did take our sins to the cross, and He did accomplish your redemption, body and soul. So the day will come when the whole world will Honor Him for the glory of his sacrifice, for his boundless mercy and for his infinite sacrifice!!
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.
Some, many, countless millions, will honor Him now, in this life. For He speaks to you, whoever you are, to reveal to you the mystery of your salvation. Like the people on the road into Jerusalem, we will cry out in joyful response, “Hosanna, Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.” (Lord Save, Lord Save Now! Above all things call upon Him for salvation, and Praise the One who lowly and humbly comes in the Name of the Living God.)
Sadly, however, many (most?) do not honor Him. Unbelief takes many forms, but we in our day need to recognize the way unbelief leads many away, and one way is by making the reality of everything “up to me.” The spirit of our age doesn’t honor Christ because it honors self above all. “I am lord,” replaces “Jesus is Lord.” This is why it is a serious thing that people deny clear truths. How else can a man say, “I am a woman”? or “Men can have babies too.” That same philosophy doesn’t ask “What is the truth about God? What has God revealed to man,” but “What do I think about God?”
3. This Should Be Our Attitude Too
In contrast to this pride, we are to model the humility of Christ: 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. In humbling Himself, Jesus still did what you and I cannot do. He lived righteousness itself, and became sin for us, so that His righteousness could become ours.
Faith reflects this attitude, that we look up to Christ in His humility, and we find greatness not in putting ourselves above Him, but acknowledging that He, having stooped the lowest, to bear ALL the sin in the world – yours too – is our rescuer, our deliverer, our Savior.
And it is just such an attitude that makes a difference in our lives, and (as a result) in the world. We are free to serve.
Luther stressed this repeatedly and abundantly, in reference to the “Theology of the Cross,” the fact that we are called to serve and suffer and so find true joy in life and living. The greatest among us, God Himself, became our servant.
Again, the place of man in this world as a servant in love to God and neighbor is rejected by the world. Have we been infected by the ungodly notion that our self is the center of our universe, and that self can be what we choose, rather than what God made us?
Human beings were made to find joy in what He has made us, not in rebellion. But in rebellion, the unbelieving, anti-Christian world denies the realities of manhood, womanhood, motherhood, fatherhood, family, and the vocations of men and woman as providers and nurturers, as children, creatures of God. They deny these realities and replace them with the fictions of identity politics playing for power.
Do you think you choose what you are, or that you are what God made you? Within what God has made you, there is great freedom, in how you live out what you are. This is true of other attributes as well. Whether are a plumber, or a housewife, a dad, a provider, or a mom, or a teacher, or that you write computer code, or deliver mail, or sell products or services or care for the health of others, or keep books in a business, it is a combination of accepting what God has made you and what therefore gives you joy.
Luther would point out that it is because it is the way you were made. It is the “way you are wired,” as we say today. You are what God has made you, and you know that both by what He has revealed to us in His word, and by the joyous discovery of the talents and abilities by which we honor Him and are a blessing to others.
Oh, people rebel against it, for sure, denying the true nature of our creation as men, women, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. But let me tell you, that you will find joy and fulfillment if you spend your life asking the question, ‘What has God made me? What has He made me for? What does HE want to accomplish through ME? How do I serve Him?”
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.
It is a good thing to remember His humble path to our victory.