Today we are looking at Philippians 2:5-8, “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 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, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.” (CSB) The Apostle Paul is encouraging the Philippians to have the same attitude as Jesus, have the same mind as Christ. We are to endeavor to be like Him, in our thoughts, in our attitudes, in what we do, everything about us should reflect Jesus.
I decided to look more deeply into this passage and read J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on this passage in his commentary on Philippians. Jesus came from Heaven, being fully God, and took upon Himself humanity. In other words, Jesus humbled Himself so that He could become our sacrifice. Dr. McGee listed seven steps downward that Jesus took to accomplish this.
- Jesus stepped down from His glory. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He didn’t lose His deity. He didn’t lose His ability to be God. That is a hard concept for us as mere humans to grasp. Even though He still had all the attributes of God, He was also completely human, with all the feelings, emotions, and problems we humans face every day. 2. Jesus stepped down to empty Himself of the prerogatives of His deity. He could do anything He could do living in Heaven, but on earth, He had certain limitations…self-limitations. He didn’t demand that He enter this world with all the trappings of being a King, even though He is. He chose to come as a helpless baby to common people, be born in a dirty stable, grow up in a carpenter’s shop, one of the lowliest professions, in a town that was not well respected – Nazareth. He chose to lay aside His shekinah glory to be like you and me. 3. Jesus stepped down to become a servant. Being a servant is a lowly position. There isn’t much glory in it. But Jesus decided to be a servant to all mankind. Even though Jesus was the King of Kings, He chose to live a life of a humble servant. He chose to be one of the “little people”, the insignificant, the ones who don’t carry much weight in the grand scheme of life. Can you imagine how humbling that must have been for Him? 4. Jesus stepped down to become a man. That must have been a humiliation all by itself. He leaves the glories of Heaven as God and must become a lowly human being, the least of the least. I can not imagine what that must have been like for Him. When someone does or says something that humiliates me, I know how that makes me feel…but Jesus did this willingly! He humbled Himself! 5. Jesus stepped down to die. He chose to come to earth to die. Jesus, who is God, is eternal, chose to die! How He humbled Himself! 6. Jesus stepped down to be obedient to death. The penalty for our sin was death, God, the Father, chose to send His only Son to die in our place so that we could be saved from our sins. Jesus was obedient to His Father and willingly came to die. As a human, He desired not to have to die, but as God, He knew there was no other way for us to be part of His family, so He willingly gave His life. 7. Jesus stepped down to death on a cross. I think this must have been the ultimate humiliation for Him. The cross was the cruelest form of punishment in that day. It was a gruesome, painful, horrible way to die. It wasn’t done in some quiet corner but was done in full view of the public. He not only endured the pain of crucifixion, but He endured the taunts, the ridicule, the beatings, and the humiliating treatment in full view of everyone because He chose to. Why would He endure all of this? Why would He allow Himself to go through all these humiliating experiences? Because He loved us so much, He decided to humble Himself and go through all of it, so that we could be part of His family. He did it because He wanted a relationship with us. He thought of us, not Himself.
We are called to have the mind of Christ, to exhibit the same attitude of humility, of servanthood, of obedience, of sacrifice. What Jesus showed us by example, we are to try and emulate. J. Vernon McGee says, “He left all the glory of heaven and came down to this earth, became a man, and suffered the death of a criminal for others—for you and me. Thank God for that! This is the mind of Christ.”