By Dr. Douglas Groothuis
4. Philippians 2:1-11: Humility and Eternity
The roots of humility lie in eternity. In order to teach us to be humble, to avoid conceit, and put others above ourselves, the Apostle Paul brings us back to Jesus’ decision to leave his eternal fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our self-giving love should be modeled on Jesus’s loving willingness to “make himself nothing” by becoming our servant, even though it cost him everything. He “became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”
The Advent season hearkens to a newborn infant in a simple manger. That was the beginning of one story, but consider the back story. We should remember the one-of-a-kind journey that Jesus took from a perfect heaven to a damaged earth. His first destination was a virgin’s womb. The one who created the universe out of nothing became nothing in the something of a supernaturally conceived fetus. If this is not humility, what is?
Without ceasing to be divine, Jesus became a lowly but righteous servant of sinful people such as you and me. He would live an impeccable life in obedience to his Father and filled with the Holy Spirit—teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons, and demonstrating the Kingdom of God in all aspects of his personality. His first words of public ministry were, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He was the Kingdom in person. The King had left his throne to court the kingless and humility was his garb. Jonathan Edwards exults in Christ’s condescension:
None are so low or inferior, but Christ's condescension is sufficient to take a careful notice of them. He condescends graciously not only to the angels, humbling himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but he also condescends to such poor creatures as sinful men- -even to those who are of the lowest rank and degree, such as those commonly despised by their fellow creatures—yet Christ does not despise them.
Because of his obedience unto the worst possible death, Christ was exalted to the highest possible height and was given the name above all others. So exalted is this name that all must bow their knees and all must confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This Advent, let us gladly confess Jesus is Lord and follow Jesus in his humility.