East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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March 9, 2014
"He Humbled Himself"
Philippians 2:5-8

Intro: Paul's letter to Philippian church. Studying his instructions (Philippians 1:27 - 2:18) on how they should live while he is imprisoned in Rome. Paul's central concern for church: Do this one thing: Live as citizens of heaven in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ! Living as citizens of heaven not only impacts how the church faces persecution, but it also affects how the church relates to each other: Because God is so gracious to us, we can live in harmony with each other! We can dare to put others first, because God's got our back! In today's passage, Paul again instructs the church to live in humble harmony by pointing to Jesus as their supreme example of humility!

The Pre-Incarnate One! (Read Philippians 2:6a.) With this phrase, Paul declares that before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He was God. "In very nature" means Jesus is truly, really, in His very essence, in His very being, God. Jesus existed before creation in perfect harmony with Father and Holy Spirit. Paul is saying "Jesus in His very nature is God!" Not shocking to us today, many use Jesus and God interchangeably. But Paul is writing 30 years after Jesus' crucifixion! (Imagine.) Something that shocking may get our attention , but the truth that Jesus is God is not the most shocking thing in these verses!

The Mystery! (Read Philippians 2:6b.) "Grasped" a difficult Gk. word to translate into English! Not: "grasping" in the sense of grabbing something you don't have. Rather, "grasping" as something you do have a hold of , to use for your advantage. (I have this and you don't!) Paul is describing the attitude Christ has as a result of the fact that He is God. He didn't "grasp" His position as God in such a way to benefit or gain from His position. Rather, Jesus's whole attitude is one of humble "giving!" O'Brien: "Precisely because He was in the form of God He did not regard this equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage." Holy mystery; speaking reverently: God is selfless, loving, giving, humble! Humility that shocking may just get our attention.

The Emptying! (Read Philippians 2:7.) "But made Himself nothing" literally means Jesus "emptied Himself." Suggests a voluntary act on Christ's part. (No coercion from His Father, Jesus willingly, joyfully accepted His task.) What did this emptying look like? 1) He became a servant (better translation, "slave,") w/no rights, no power, no privileges. (Stark contrast w/being God over all, with all rights, power, privileges!) 2) He was born like any other human being! (He could have arrived on earth in any other way! Talk about making an entrance!) But He arrived like any other human baby. Humility that shocking may just get our attention.

The Scandal! (Read Philippians 2:8.) Paul describes the life Jesus lived while He walked this earth: a life of total obedience to His Father's will, even though Jesus knew it would end with His death on the cross. Paul stresses the type of death that Jesus died because crucifixion was not only physically painful, but it was also a shameful way to die. Cicero, (Roman philosopher/politician, died 40 years before Jesus was born:) "The very word ‘cross' should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen, but from his thoughts, his eyes, and his ears." Crucifixion was a painful, shameful form of execution that the Romans reserved for non-citizens, slaves, and rebels. The death of the lowest of the low: Publically mocked, whipped, stripped, and nailed to a cross until you suffocated. Jesus did it willingly! He left heaven's glory to become human, to suffer, bleed and die for your sins and mine! Humility that shocking may just get our attention!

Application: The Repeated Instruction! (Read Philippians 2:5.) All this deep theology has a very practical point! Paul has a reason for holding Jesus up as our example: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ!" Gk. word here translated "Attitude" = "likeminded" of v. 2. Paul is telling Philippians, Holy Spirit is telling us, in terms of your relationships w/other Christians, think like Jesus thought, act like Jesus acted. (Read, linger on Philippians 2:2-4.) Humility that shocking may just get the attention of your brothers and sisters in Christ! And just imagine if we started acting that humbly around our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers! Do you want people to sit up and take notice of East Side Church? Here's our way forward, and it's difficult, it's painful, but it's Christ's way: Humility. Humility that shocking may just get the attention of the world around us!

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