THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST: BECOMING OBEDIENT TO DEATH

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:5-8

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

We now come to the culmination of this passage that deals with the humiliation of Christ — “He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Jesus Christ lived a perfectly sinless life. He did what we could not do — He lived a perfect life of obedience. This is what theologians call His active obedience. Yet, our sinless Savior took upon Himself our sins — “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus Christ voluntarily gave up His life for us. He willingly gave up something that no one could have ever taken from Him — “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17,18). This is known as Christ’s passive obedience.

Christ’s death was an atoning death that was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins. It was not just a martyr’s death; it was unique in every way. In His death, Christ bore the very wrath and displeasure of God in our place. This is known as substitutionary atonement. Jesus became our substitute. He became the atoning sacrifice for our sins. His perfect sacrifice satisfied the justice of a holy God.

Jesus Christ suffered death on a cross. This was the most painful and shameful death possible. He willingly embraced the most shameful and humiliating death conceivable in both the Gentile and Jewish world. In the Jewish mind, crucifixion meant God’s curse — “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13).

Let us never forget what Jesus Christ has done for us. He endured the cross and bore the shame of sin for us — “For consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

Isac Watts’ words in his hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” summaries what our response should be:

“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”

“Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Lord Jesus, there is nothing I can ever do to repay You for what You have done for me. Even if the whole really of nature was mine to give you, it would not be enough. Thank You for bearing the curse of the cross for me. Thank you for taking on my sins and paying for them with Your precious blood. Your love for me demands my soul, my life, my all.

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