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The Humiliation of Christ

February 3, 2020 | by: Chris Kiiskinen | 0 comments

When we think about the idea of being humiliated, we will naturally view that as something bad...something we want to avoid. When we think about it in terms of Jesus, though, we need to see it from a biblical perspective.

chris-kiiskinenOne of the ways humiliation is defined is...“an act or instance of humiliating or being humiliated.” Jesus experienced both aspects of this. He humbled himself and was also put through humiliating experiences at the hand of others. And while sometimes when we are humiliated by others, it may have been partly our own fault for something we said or did, the humiliation Jesus experienced from others was not warranted at all.

In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul outlines several of the most important aspects of Christ’s humiliation that we can look at and learn from. In verses 6 through 8 specifically, we see these 9 elements:

Jesus is God.

Jesus is said to be in the “form” of God, a word meaning of the same nature or essence as God, affirming his Deity, not merely just some kind of external form.

Jesus did not cling to his Deity.

Jesus did not demand that he maintain his equal standing with God. Paul says that he didn’t think of is as something to be “grasped” which is a word that means seized, clutched, embraced or held tightly.

Jesus emptied himself.

In contrast to grasping, what Jesus did was what Paul described with the Greek word “kenoo” meaning to make empty. Though he remained God, by humbling himself and taking on human flesh, he voluntarily gave up his Heavenly glory, his Heavenly authority (submitting himself to the will of the Father), his Heavenly prerogatives, his Heavenly riches and even, as he took on our sin, his Heavenly relationship with the Father. Each of those could be an article by themselves!

Jesus became a servant.

Here, again, Paul uses the same word “form” to say that what Jesus did was to take on the nature, or essence, of a servant.

Think about just these first four for a moment...the Creator God of all the universe, set his Deity aside so that he could become a servant. How amazing is that? Something that we should not ever overlook in terms of how sacrificial Jesus was in his redemptive work.

Jesus became like us.

Jesus, in taking on human flesh, submitted himself to experiencing life as we experience life. Pain, sorrow, suffering, temptations and more, were all known to him from a very human perspective. That is why Scripture tells us that he can identify with us in all ways.

Jesus became human.

In verse 8, Paul says that Jesus took on human “form” but here, he uses the Greek word “schema.” This is a word that has to do with more of an external view. So Paul is affirming that Jesus, inwardly and outwardly, became a man.

Jesus humbled himself.

We see this already in what Jesus did above, and in doing so, he placed himself in a position of total submission to the Father’s will.

Jesus became obedient.

By submitting himself, he put himself of being obedient to the Father, doing what the Father wanted, and sought to only please the Father with his life. We know that Jesus did please the Father because in several places we read the words “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The obedience of Jesus was a part of the Father’s pleasure.

Jesus gave up his life.

Lastly, we see that his humility and obedience was so great that it took him to the point of going through the mockery of a trial, being silent before his accusers, being whipped and beaten mercilessly and ultimately dying an excruciating death on a cross. At any time he could have summoned a legion of angels to defend him, or even just uttered a simple word and he could have utterly destroyed all of those committing such sin. Yet, in some of his last words, he asked God to forgive them. Amazing love! How can it be?

As Paul continues to write, though, he turns a corner and lets us know that all of this was for the purpose God intended, which was not only to redeem His people, but even more importantly, to exalt Jesus and cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

Redemption. Exaltation. Glory. Jesus accomplished all of this through his humiliation. But what does this mean for us?

Well, it means more than what could be written here, but let’s just take a look at what Paul says it means for us in the first few verses of chapter 2. In verses 1 and 2, we find that in Christ we have:

  • Encouragement
  • Love
  • Fellowship
  • Compassion
  • Sympathy
  • Fulfillment
  • Joy

The challenge to us here is to be sure that we are seeking all of those things from and in Jesus and not from other people or things in the world.

In addition to those reminders of truth, Paul urges us to respond with the same kind of mind, or thinking, that Jesus had. Remember, the way you think affects the way you act! In verses 2 through 4 he exhorts us to strive for:

  • Unity in our thinking, based on the love, sentiment and thoughts of Jesus
  • No selfishness (the word Paul uses here also implies no strife or factions)
  • No self-conceit (a word meaning “empty glory” or a state of pride with no basis)
  • what Jesus displayed
  • Considering or esteeming others before self

All of these truths and challenges for and to us are all rooted in Jesus and who he was, what he became and how he lived, as he utterly humbled himself in order to please and glorify the Father.

May we all seek to love and honor him by striving together to be like him, and may Jesus get all of the glory for it!

Now let’s go find some humility to walk in!

Chris Kiiskinen

Chris Kiiskinen is a Pastor at Grace Bible Church.