“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”—Philippians 2:8 (NKJV)
Do you know what the most shameful and abhorrent kind of death was in Jesus’ day? Crucifixion. It was the kind of death that was reserved for the worst of people; those who were cursed. In Galatians 3:13 (NLT), we see this spelled out clearly: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” But Jesus, God in the flesh, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, humbled Himself. And not just by taking on the form of man or arriving on the scene as a poor carpenter from Nazareth . . . He allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten, spit on, insulted and mocked, and whipped. He had a crown of thorns placed on His head, He was nailed to a cross reserved for a criminal, and He died the most vile and cursed death. He took upon Himself the weakness and evil of humanity and obediently carried out the will and plan of the Father.
According to theologian Dr. James MacKnight, “The reasoning in this passage is beautiful. The Son of God did not proudly continue in his high station, but descended from it for a while, and placed Himself in the lowest condition among men, serving everyone with the humility and assiduity of a servant, or bondman, as doulos signifies. Then, in obedience to His Father (John 6:38), He finished His services by suffering the painful and ignominious death of the cross as a malefactor, for the salvation of the world.
“Having this great example of humility and benevolence set before them by their Master, His disciples, who are above their brethren in station, should not on every occasion behave as their superiors; but, laying aside their dignity, they should cheerfully perform in person to their inferiors those offices of kindness and humanity which their distress requires; especially when the assistance wanted by their inferiors is of such an urgent nature that it admits of no delay.”
Jesus’ example shows us with such vibrant clarity that no one should consider himself or herself above any person or any work. No job is beneath us if it is Spirit-led, no person is beneath us. In fact, we should go out of our way to put people first and lay aside our pride to serve the Lord’s will and purposes.
1. What does this verse mean to you and how are you inspired by it?
2. In this verse we are reminded that obedience is preceded by humility. How have you seen this principle in your own life?