Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:…
The experience of Christ is the supreme example of his doctrine that "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." It is here described as an incentive to our duty of unselfish humility. But as the apostle narrates the wonderful facts, and enumerates the details with evident delight on their own account, we may find in them an inexhaustible subject for meditation, and, while not forgetting the object of drawing a practical lesson from them, we may be prepared to receive that lesson more fully by realizing more thoroughly the great example with which it. is enforced.
I. THE HUMBLING OF CHRIST.
1. It was voluntary. The example of Christ is very different from that of Job. Job suffered from misfortunes that came upon him unsought; but Christ freely chose his own humiliation. Therefore the mind that was in Christ was not simply like Job's, a mind of patience and faithfulness; it was a mind of self-abnegation.
2. It was great in extent. We measure a fall, not by the absolute level reached, but by comparison with the altitude left. To fall from a steeple to the common earth on which most men walk, is to make a tremendous descent. In becoming man Christ humbled himself. As a man he humbled himself further than ever man did before, in submitting to shame and death.
3. It was perfect in quality. Look at some of the particulars.
(1) The abdication of lawful rights. Though of Divine form, Christ sought not Divine rank.
(2) The surrender of natural powers. "He emptied himself." He cast away possessions and influences and faculties, till he reduced himself to the capacity of a babe. Most of us would be more ready to sacrifice our external honors than to abandon any internal superiority of gifts and powers. Christ did both.
(3) The submission to servitude. "Taking the form of a bond-servant." There is a humility that, only helping others in its own way, is consistent with much pride of self-will. It is harder to obey than to condescend. Christ did both.
(4) The descent to shame and death. This is humiliation in a man. What is it in One who is naturally "in the form of God"?
II. THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST. The story of Christ does not end with Calvary. The sequel is as glorious in the experience as the first part is in the character of Christ.
1. The exaltation is God's act. Christ humbled himself, but Christ never sought his own glory, not even after his humiliation. "God highly exalted him." Neither on earth nor in heaven, neither now nor ever, neither when ill deserved nor when well deserved, does the highest glory come to those who seek it for themselves. It is always conferred unsought on the self-forgetful.
2. The exaltation is a consequence of the humbling of Christ. "Wherefore," etc. Christ is not simply reinstated in his old dignity. He receives new honors in direct recognition of his self-sacrifice. It is not merely as a compensation for the suffering, but rather as a reward for the disposition and will of self-abnegation, that the higher glory is accorded to Christ. The spirit in which he suffered, the "wilt" that sanctifies us, the "mind" that was in him, receive the reward.
3. The exaltation is perfect.
(1) Honour. All knees bow. For shame there is glory.
(2) Power. He is confessed to be Lord, i.e. King and Master.
(3) Universal supremacy.
Heaven, earth, and hell are ultimately to confess Christ's authority. What a victory! Nothing short of voluntary submission could ever please Jesus as he was known on earth and as he is changeless in character through eternity. In his glowing vision of the future, St. Paul sees all evil conquered and all beings in the universe turned from their rebellion to the acceptance of Christ as their Lord.
III. THE EXAMPLE. This sublime picture is not simply drawn to excite our admiration, nor merely to move our gratitude, but directly to rouse us to imitation. Unlike our modern selfish use of the experience of Christ when we too commonly dwell upon it simply that we may "appropriate the fruits" of it, the apostles almost always refer to it by way of illustration to urge us to show the same spirit. Indeed, our enjoy-merit of the results of Christ's humbling of himself for us is closely connected with this nee of his experience; for we profit by them when we follow him (1 Peter 2:17, 18). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: