Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 3, 2007

The Example of Christ, Philippians 2:5-2:11

Philippians 2:5-2:11Introduction:
I recently read a great Book about a man by the name of Marshal Taylor. Marshal Taylor lived in the USA in the late 1800’s and he was born to parents that were slaves. Marshal Taylor experienced freedom and he began to know a taste of freedom that his parents never knew. He had the privilege of being around some people who had never been slaves and were wealthy. One of them gave this boy Taylor access to a bicycle. In his day it was unheard of for a black man whose parents were slaves to have a bicycle. He had this opportunity and he learned to ride this bicycle. Eventually he found himself entered in a bicycle race.
At the starting line those who were racing against him told him because he was a black man racing with the whites that they would kill him. They said as soon as they rode out of sight they would get to him, beat him, and leave him dead.

You can imagine what was going through his mind. When the starting gun sounded he was off like lightning, never looking back. He went on to win that race. It was the beginning of one of the most dramatic athletic careers ever know. This man Marshal Major Taylor became the star of the athletic world at the turn of the century. He was known as the fastest man in the world and literally nothing could travel as fast as him. There was no train that could go as faster as Taylor could ride. The automobile had not come along yet. Nothing could travel as fast as Major Taylor on his bike.

He had been poor and suddenly his name; Major Taylor became a household word in Europe and in America. He dined with dignitaries and he was the equivalent of what today would be a multi-millionaire. Here is a man who went from poorest poor to the highest height of riches and fame. Today the Olympic caliber Bicycle Track in Indianapolis bears his name.

Many people enjoy a great story of rags to riches and Major Taylor’s is one of the best. This morning we are going to look at a story that goes in the opposite direction. It is even more amazing. Here is someone in riches. Here is someone in the highest height, who goes down to the deepest depth. One who goes from riches to rags in humility and does so voluntarily.

We will look at one of the greatest passages on our Lord Jesus Christ and we will look at what he did in paying the penalty for your sin and my sin. This is not a story of rags to riches but one who went from Majesty to Humility.

In the book of Philippians Paul has been exhorting his readers to a lifestyle of humility and to put aside selfish interests. He had been encouraging them in this way of humility and now in his final argument for this call to humility he draws upon the greatest example ever known, the example of Jesus Christ. We are going to examine the great example of Jesus Christ and what he did to go the dramatic distance of the Majesty of God to a despicable criminals death on the cross.

Never has anyone gone so far in humility. Never has there been an example like what we find in Jesus Christ. Lets read one of the great passages on our Lord Jesus Christ.

Vs.5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Vs. 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
Vs 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Vs. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!
Vs. 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
Vs.10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,
Vs. 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I) The Example of Jesus in Humility Vs 5-7

In vs. 5 Paul says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” In other words you should think those thoughts that Christ thought. You should have the mind of Christ that was expressed in the incarnation. By incarnation we mean when Holy God became man. That is the attitude we should have, an attitude of humility that makes us willing to give up what we have for the sake of others. We tend to think of our own self-interests. We tend to think of our own rights. We have created a “me generation.” Everyone thinking of his or her own needs and not about those of others.

This is a day when we need to look to the example of Jesus Christ who is the ultimate example of true humility. There was no limit to the amount of humility that he demonstrated. Despite his divine majesty he took off those heavenly robes and came down in the form of humanity.

In verse six we see the emphasis on the great majesty of Christ. It says, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” It said he is in very nature God. Jesus is God almighty. If you are really going to appreciate the true humility of Jesus Christ the key is to grasp this aspect of Jesus that he was almighty God.

Illustration: Humility
There may have been others to experience humility. There may have been great leaders that were humbled. Recently the leader of a powerful nation was put under house arrest. They took the leader and placed him under house arrest. It must be very humiliating to be a world leader and then to be placed under arrest. But we could never compare this to the humility of Christ. He political leader was a man, but Jesus Christ was God and he was humiliated to the lowest point.

Paul without any apology asserts that Jesus Christ was God. His glory was the very glory of God. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. What did Paul mean by this? In other words, Jesus was God in his nature and did not need to hold on to that. He did not need to defend it. He was God. He did not have to consider this something to be grasped or held on too. Jesus possessed the glory of God. It was not something he had to defend, hold on too or fight for.

It is amazing when we consider what the Bible tells us when man first committed sin in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and they were tempted because they would be like God. In other words they wanted to receive the majesty to become like God. It brought the fall to the world.

Now here is Jesus Christ who had that, who is God. He does not hold on to that but willingly humbled himself. Vs 7 says, He was made nothing. He emptied himself, stripped himself of all insignia, all outward appearance of the divine to walk as human flesh on this earth. To take on the full nature of a man. Like a king who would discard his robes and his crown to walk among the peasants and be one with them. Jesus Christ put aside his heavenly robes and became one of us. He became a man just like us. Taking on the nature of a servant. Jesus Christ came not to be served, but to serve. That was his humility. He possessed supreme authority yet he became a servant.

Christ it says, being found in human form. Here is his true humanity. Jesus became human. He didn’t just appear as God with the appearance of a body. He became human. Jesus took on the full human nature with all the human characteristics. He grew in a human society as each of us has. He being God took on full humanity.

There were two things that Jesus could not do before he took on humanity. He could not suffer and he could not die. But now these are things he could do to the full extent. Because he humbled himself he would know suffering as no one had ever known suffering before. He would know death, even the most despicable death of a criminal. He experienced that humility of humbling himself to the point of death.

Paul wants to communicate a message to the Philippians. He wants to communicate a message of humility. He is telling them they need to put their own selfish interests aside and follow the example of Jesus Christ in humility. It is the ultimate illustration of humility. Jesus humbled himself. Won’t you heed the message of Paul and live in humility? Won’t you put aside your self-interests and live by the example of Christ who humbled himself more than anyone else?

Humility is the example of Christ. If you say, “I want to be a good Christian,” you must follow Christ in the attitude of humility. Only if you will humble yourself and allow Jesus to be your example and motivate you to the service in humility will you truly be able to be the Christian that you would like to be and that God would have you to be.

II) The Example of Jesus in Obedience. Vs 8

We see that Christ set an example of humility. In verse 8 we see a further example of Jesus Christ. We see the example of obedience. Jesus Christ was obedient. His example extends beyond humility to obedience. Jesus placed himself as a servant to do God’s will and he never shrank from that. Jesus was human like other men, yet he was different in that he was perfectly obedient. He never was disobedient at any time to what God would have for him. He lived always in the will of God. Jesus obedience went to the ultimate, that of death. He was obedient unto death. There is the ultimate test of obedience.

Illustration: Obedience
I have heard about those who travel in the north Yukon who use dogsled teams. The key to the whole team is how the lead dog is obedient to the master who is driving the sled. One man was saying that his lead dog was more obedient than any dog before. He was arguing with another man about the obedience of his dog. They were on the side of a cliff and he gave the dog the command to jump. As he did the dog leapt over the cliff. He caught the dog and pulled him back. Never again did anyone question the obedience of that sled dog. This dog was obedient unto death. He was willing to die for the master.

Here we see Jesus set the ultimate example of obedience. He was obedient to the point of death. His whole mission in coming to earth was about that death on the cross. He came to die. He was obedient and never shrank from his mission, which included death. He went beyond merely death, but he died a shameful death. A death of crucifixion the most degrading death known. It was torturous and shameful. It was to be a curse to die on a cross. Jesus was willing to go to that extreme of death on a cross.

Today when someone is sentenced to death it is through a lethal injection. A death that is painless and private. The cross was the extreme of torture, the most painful and public. They chose the cross because it was the most disgraceful death. Jesus was obedient to death, even death on a cross. What a contrast to go from a throne of glory to a death as dishonorable as the cross. To be God all-powerful and to go to the cross seemingly helpless. To be the savior of the world and to die on the cross and be mocked when they said, “You saved others why don’t you save yourself?” What an example of obedience Jesus showed.

It was because of your sin and my sin and God’s love that Jesus took this step of obedience. His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow. Jesus Christ fell on his face and said to his Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me. Let me not go through this on the cross. It is so terrible but he said, nevertheless, not my will but yours. It was an example of complete and willing obedience.

If Christ was willing to do this for you won’t you live in obedience for him? That is how Paul wanted to motivate the Philippians to be obedient. He used the example of Jesus and his ultimate obedience to the Father. This should be an example for all of us to commit ourselves to complete obedience to Jesus Christ.

Jesus said if you obey my commands you will remain in my love. He said just as I have obeyed my Fathers commands and abide in his love. Jesus was obedient to the Father and experienced the great love that the Father has. They had a great relationship because of his obedience. Jesus is saying to each one of you, if you will obey His commands and be obedient to Christ you will abide in the love of Christ as He abided in the love of the Father.

You know the cross was not the end. That was simply the entrance into glory. When we put a cross up as a symbol, we put an empty cross because Jesus rose again and his death on the cross was not the final word. It was an entrance to the glorification and victory of Jesus Christ. It was because Jesus defeated death on the cross that we celebrate new life in Christ. It was because of his obedience that we have Good News and a story to tell.

Seeking our own glory ends in destruction. Adam and Eve sought their own glory and it brought the fall of the human race. But Jesus Christ thought of others and it meant salvation and redemption available to the human race.

III) The Example of Jesus results in Exaltation Vs 9-11

We have seen Jesus in humility. Now we see that he is exalted. He is raised high above all others. God responded to Christ’s humility and obedience. Jesus who was betrayed and died on the cross is now exalted. Vs. 9 says, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” Jesus exaltation is complete. He is given the highest name.

The Bible says in Vs 10-11, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Jesus went through the humiliation. He was obedient. In response to this obedience God exalted him to the highest.

It is the way of glory through the cross. The Bible calls all of us to crucify ourselves. To take up our cross daily. We are to die to our own needs and our selfish interest. We are to crucify our own selfish interests that we might live to Christ. The implication of all this is not only that Jesus Christ is exalted, but that when we are obedient to Christ and follow his example through humility and obedience we share in that glory. Those who truly put their faith in Christ and trust in Christ and live the Christian life will share a glory in heaven with Jesus Christ.

It is wonderful news and needs to be spread all over the world that Jesus Christ died and we can share in his exaltation. There is more to Christian life than worship here on earth. We have a glorious future in Jesus Christ. The first step is through true humility. It is to come to Jesus Christ and acknowledge you are a sinner.

Jesus died because he wants you to experience new life. We must follow his example of humility. We must come to him and admit we are not good enough. We will never reach God standards. But only to allow Christ’s death on the cross to count for our lives. That we put our faith and trust in Jesus.

What keeps people from Christ? Why are their so many without an interest in Jesus? It is because of foolish pride. They think they do not need Jesus that they are good enough so God will take care of them. But that could not be farther from the truth. The Bible makes it clear that no one is good enough to receive eternal life unless they come through Jesus Christ. Each one needs to humble himself and place their faith in Jesus Christ.

Illustration: opportunity to receive Christ
We do not know what tomorrow will hold. We do not know what will come even if we are young in age or a senior adult we do not know what is before us. I received word yesterday that one of the men in my graduation class at seminary who was younger than myself was called to pastor a church in New Mexico.

Just a few days ago in route to that church the plane he was on crashed. This morning as I speak was to be his very first service. There are families devastated and a church in shock. We do not know what tomorrow will hold and when the day will come when we will no longer have an opportunity to receive Christ. It is a tragedy that this young man and his wife were killed in a plane crash, but how wonderful that their faith was in Christ and they served Jesus.

Don’t ignore the things that are most important, the eternal things. Come to Jesus Christ today.


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