Humility and Exaltation
- David Fairchild
- Jun 6, 2004
- Series: Philippians
Have any of you been to the Grand Canyon?
If you have you wouldn’t be very impressed by a Polaroid picture of a section of the canyon, even if I held it high so everyone could see.
The full impression of the Grand Canyon can only be realized by experiencing it yourself as you stand on its edge and peer in awe and amazement at its immensity.
Though that is not even a close description of the awe we experience with God when He reveals who He is to us, it sums up how I feel in preaching this passage to you. I feel like all I am doing is holding up a little Polaroid snapshot with feeble hands and expecting with all my heart that you experience the full weight of theses verses that we are reading this morning.
This is one of the richest passages of Scripture because it reviews the entire course of Jesus earthly life and it calls us to look to who He is today. Paul starts in heaven and ends in heaven in this passage.
If we want to catch the full force of what Paul is saying we need to remember that Paul has been instructing the Philippian church on unity.
He finished his last thought with verse 4 “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Paul moves from instruction to example. Who is he going to use as the greatest example of humility that will allow unity to be possible in God’s family? Jesus. He says…
Verse 5- Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
This is Paul’s transition from instruction to example. He’s referring to his instruction to the Philippian church that they should “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
What could Paul appeal to so they would see the weight of his comments? What would motivate them to take on and welcome a posture of humility? Jesus.
Hey lays out for them their goal; “Let this mind be in you,” could be translated “Have the same attitude which was in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is speaking to the entire church. He’s telling everyone that attends the church in Philippi and claims to follow Jesus, to follow him to humiliation.
Many of us want to follow Jesus moral teachings. Many of us want to follow his philosophy. Many of us want to follow the miracle worker. Many of us want to follow Christ so that he blesses our finances, heals our bodies, fills our bellies, but few want to follow the Jesus that willingly subjected Himself to humiliation.
Paul starts from looking at His exalted position.
Verse 6- who, being in the form of God,…
Paul starts with a statement that Jesus is God. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. Who has dwelled forever in a loving community with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus never sinned, never felt guilt, never experienced physical pain.
He was and will always exist in the form (morphe) of God. He has and will always be in the essential nature, God.
The Bible says that Jesus is.. “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-16).”
…did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
His first step to humility was not clinging to His exalted position and divine rights.
In other words Paul is saying that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be tenaciously held on to. He didn’t consider equality with God something to use to cling to so that he could get out of doing what the Father had planned before creating the universe and everything in it.
What else did He do?
Verse 7- but made Himself of no reputation,…
This is His second step downward.
He emptied Himself. He made Himself of no reputation.
Instead of clinging to His exalted position, He temporarily emptied Himself of:
His divine glory.
He chose to limit His divine power.
His eternal riches, He became poor.
His close, face to face relationship with the Father.
What did He do next?
…taking the form of a bondservant,…His third step downward was taking on the form of a doulos which is a slave.
Although He was inherently in the form (morphe) of God in essence and nature, He took on Himself the essence and nature of a slave.
He didn’t just put on slaves clothes, He became slave.
Slaves were the only ones who could die on the cross, and slaves were to carry others burdens. Christ carried the burden of sin for us.
What did He do next?
…and coming in the likeness of men.
His fourth step downward, Jesus was made in the likeness of men.
God made Him by a miraculous conception and a virgin birth, a man.
Then He continued downward.
Verse 8- And being found in appearance as a man,
His fifth step in His descent was “being found in appearance as a man.”
God is made a true human being by divine power, Christ was “found” as a man by those who saw Him during His incarnation.
The Greek word that is used for “appearance” is schema which is different from morphe because it means outward shape.
Isaiah predicted 700 years prior to Christ that the Messiah “was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3).
John wrote, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11).
He continues his descent…
He humbled Himself…
His sixth step downward is extremely profound.
He humbled Himself. Paul speaks about Jesus’ attitude. He wasn’t just humiliated by the nature and circumstances of His incarnation. He “humbled” Himself, which in the Greek means He was “lying low.” Not only did He lay low to God, but also to other men.
What else did He do?
…and became obedient to the point of death,…
In His seventh step downward, Jesus was willing to suffer humiliation and degradation even to becoming obedient to the point of death.
How many of us are obedient to that point? Obedience is easy, but when your life is on the line are you willing to lay it down out of obedience like Jesus?
Lastly in His descent…
…even the death of the cross.
In His eighth step, Jesus submitted even to the death of the cross.
There are many ways He could have been killed. He could have been beheaded, like John the Baptist, or stoned or hanged. But He was destined not for just any kind of death but for the death of the cross.
It may be the most cruel, excruciatingly painful, and shameful form of execution ever conceived. It was invented by the Persians and later it was perfected by the Romans.
It was reserved for slaves, criminals, and enemies of the state. No Roman citizen could be crucified, no matter how heinous their crime.
The Jews considered the crucifixion to be a from of hanging, and those who were hanged were considered cursed by God.
It was bloody, as were the Old Testament sacrifices that came before it. Priests in the services of the temple were butchers with blood splattered clothing. The Lamb of God would need to die a bloody death.
How did God respond to His Son’s perfect obedience and sacrifice?
The days of the humble Galilean peasant are in the rear view mirror.
Verse 9- Therefore God also has highly exalted Him…
God refuses to let His son languish in humiliation. God is the great hero and vindicator.
The Father rewards His Son’s obedience and exalts Him. But He didn’t just exalt Him, He “highly” exalted Him.
First, He raised Jesus from the dead.
Second, the Father ascends Jesus to Himself.
Third, He crowns Jesus at His coronation. Jesus in His great coronation speech says “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Fourth, He is given the position of the great High Priest. He has sat down at the right hand of the Father were He continually intercedes for you and I.
He lives to make intercession for us.
When He descended into earth He willing left behind His status, His exalted position, His inability to die, His riches and royalty to become one of us. At His exaltation God restores everything and Places Him as ruler and King of everything, even judgment.
The Father bestows on Him His title.
…and given Him the name which is above every name,
This name will be expanded to King of kings and Lord of lords. This is His sovereign title of rulership. It outranks every other name.
Whoever is Lord is over everyone else. The savior who suffered as a slave, now ascends and is crowned King to rule and reign forever.
This name, this title is exalted above every title and name that has even been and ever will be. No king, no president of a country no matter its size, no corporate CEO, has this name. It is Lord (kurios).
Verse 10- that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
This is not a response to the name “Jesus” which is a form of Joshua, Jesus name was common in the New Testament. It is “at the name of Jesus,” that is, at another name “Lord” given to Jesus Christ in His exaltation by the Father, that every knee will bow and tongue confess.
Everyone will pay homage by bowing their knees. Holy angels, saints, those on earth who are redeemed and unredeemed, and the fallen angels and the unredeemed dead who are waiting final judgment and eternal punishment.
Verse 11- and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is the fulfillment of the saga of redemption. The purpose of Jesus’ exaltation is the “glory of God the Father.”
To proclaim the lordship of His Son is the greatest glory that can be given to God the Father. This doesn’t make the Father jealous, instead it is the supreme object and fulfillment of the Father’s divine will as He demonstrates His perfect love for His Son.
Whoever honors the Son, honors the Father, and whoever dishonors the Son dishonors the Father. This is the end for which we exist together as a Church of God, to bring honor to the Father in worship of the Son. We proclaim who Christ is and in so doing honor the Son which ultimately and fully honors the Father.