Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jesus' Example of Unselfish Servanthood

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, May 29, 2011

Philippians 2:1-11, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus' example of unselfish servant-hood. What a powerful example, what a meaningful example. What a timely, yes, very, very timely example, His example of unselfish servant-hood was, to the Christians at Philippi in the days of the apostle Paul, and, to us who live in the days of i-pads, cell phones, Facebook and Twitter.

I want to wrap up our study of this superb passage from the pen of the apostle Paul, this message from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, TO the Church, to
this church, this morning, if we can. But, before we do, I want to remind you of where we've been, and what we have seen.

In a most amazing way, a way that I believe, strongly argues for this text being Holy Spirit-inspired Scripture, this passage combines and communicates not only practical truth to God's people - an exhortation to love, unity and humility, in verses one through four – but also, deep and profound doctrine, instruction to Christians, to folks like us about core teachings of the Christian faith pertains to Jesus' humiliation. Verses 6 & 7, though Jesus was in the very form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, He emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in human likeness. In this text we learn of the staggering, almost astonishing doctrine of the Incarnation of God the Son.

Then, in verse 8, we read of yet a second core truth of our faith. We read of the humiliating, excruciating, death of Jesus, of how God the Son “humbled Himself and became obedient [to God the Father], yes obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”, set in the context of this penetrating and practical exhortation to “let this mind be in you...”, to pursue the humble mindset of Christ, to emulate the example of unselfish servant-hood seen in Christ, that Christian love and unity might result. Set within this context of practical instruction and serving as the basis for this instruction, as these core doctrines, 1) the Incarnation of Christ, 2) the Humiliation of Christ – His suffering and death on Calvary's cross, and, then, 3) the Doctrine I want us to examine today, the Crowning, the Coronation, the Exaltation of Christ.

Jesus' example of unselfish servant-hood, there's the side of this equation that points toward the practical application, as seen in His Incarnation, core doctrine number one; as seen in His Humiliation, His crucifixion, core doctrine number two, and as seen, core doctrine number three, in His Exaltation, His coronation.

As Christians, it's pretty much standard fare for us to believe and teach and talk about and sing about the Exaltation of Christ. For instance we refer to Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, don't we? (Revelation 19:16) And we sing joyous anthems like “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne...” (Revelation 4-5) And “Majesty, worship His majesty, unto Jesus be all glory, honor and praise...”

But listen, have you ever wondered how Christ was exalted and WHY? Take a look with me here, in this passage, and in a few others, and we will discover the answers to those questions.

How was Christ exalted? Before we examine this passage for answers to this question, allow me to remind you of something. Another question, and hopefully, a very clear answer. WHEN was Christ exalted? The simple answer to that would take us back to Acts chapter one, where we read of the Ascension of Jesus, and how He was taken up before the very eyes of His apostle, into heaven. In simple terms, we would say that Jesus was exalted beginning from the day He ascended into heaven to be seated at His Father's right hand. But listen, don't forget, let us never lose sight of the fact that His ascension, His coronation, His exaltation, took place AFTER His crucifixion. As someone once stated, “In God's plan, in His chronology for Christ AND for Christians, it is always the Cross first, then the Crown!”

When was Christ exalted? He was exalted, coronated, crowned, AFTER His death, burial and resurrection!

But, let's come back to the question of HOW was He exalted? Two main ideas to take note of here, in this part of our study. Number one, He was HIGHLY exalted! In the original language the words mean 'Super exalted!' One translation I like puts it this way, “He was exalted to the highest place...” Hold your place in Philippians 2, and find with me, Hebrews 1. How was Jesus exalted? He was highly exalted. But, just HOW high are we talking about?

Hebrews 1:2 – What does the text tell us about how high Jesus has been exalted? It tells us that God the Father has appointed God the Son to be “heir of all things...”. Verse 3 It tells us that God has provided His Son a seat “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Verses 4-9 tells us that Jesus, God the Son, has received a more excellent name than the angels, that all the angels of God must worship Him, and that He - unlike they, the angels – He is not merely a ministering spirit, a servant of God, that's what the angels are. Rather, Jesus – how highly has He been exalted? Verses 8 & 9, He has been so highly exalted that He has received all the perks and privileges of being God's only begotten Son: the throne, the scepter, the anointing and the praise and worship!

How has Jesus been exalted? He has been “highly exalted and given a name that is above every name...” That's how highly He has been exalted!

But, before we move on to question number two, the WHY? question about Jesus' coronation, allow me to direct you to the second word of Philippians 2:9... How is it that Jesus has been exalted, crowned, coronated? This is not man's doing! This is not something that that fickle crowd on Paul Sunday accomplished! No! This is God's doing! His work! And, ultimately, all a part of His plan! “Wherefore God also has highly exalted His Son Jesus Christ...”

Before we move on to asking and answering the 'why' question, would you pause with me for just a moment and consider the message and meaning of this essential doctrine for our lives? Going all all the way back to our earliest ancestors – Adam and Eve – man has been seeking to exalt himself, to make a name, above all other names, for HIMSELF, to build monuments, erect statues and establish empires to and for HIMSELF! But Jesus, the One who was and is, and forever will be SUPER-exalted, was, well, He was exalted by God! Who can do any better than that? Who can out do that?

Why was Jesus exalted? One of the most stunning and striking aspects of this study is this aspect of it. Why did God exalt Jesus to the highest place? Why did God the Father give God the Son a name that is above every name?

Look again at our text here in Philippians chapter two. We're going to look at verses 6 – 11 in just a moment, but before we do, allow me to quickly point out one other passage for you to know and remember regarding this subject. Romans 8, the portion of that marvelous chapter that begins with the words, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, for the good of those who are called according to His purpose...”

Listen to what the apostle Paul says about the meaning, the 'why' behind Jesus' exaltation in this text. Beginning in verse 31, he exclaims, “what shall we say then to all these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Why is Jesus exalted to the right hand of God? I praise God for it, don't you? That He might make continual intercession, for you and me! Hallelujah! Praise God for our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16, 2:14-17).

Philippians 2:6-11 – Why was Jesus super exalted by God? Number one, “because” - that's really the meaning of the word “wherefore” or “therefore” in verse 9 – because He emptied Himself, verse 7. People at places like Philippi and McKinney, our tendency is to fill ourselves with ourselves, but not Jesus! Not the One who was in the very nature God! No! He emptied Himself! And, so, for that reason God exalted Him! Secondly, verse 8. God exalted Jesus, why? What was the reason for this coronation above all coronations? Verse 8 – God super exalted Jesus because He humbled Himself and became obedient. He submitted Himself to His Father's will, all the way to the death of the Cross!

More than anything else, Hebrews 1 tells us God the Son loved righteousness - He loved to conform Himself to His Father's will - and hated wickedness; therefore God anointed Him – Jesus – with the oil of gladness above His companions! (Hebrews 1:9)

Beloved, remember what we stated at the outset this morning? This study combines profound doctrine and theology, with probing and penetrating application for our lives! “Let this mind – the mind and mindset of Jesus Christ – be in you and in me!”

Do I want God to exalt me? Yes! We're all in agreement with that, aren't we? Then are we willing to empty ourselves and humbly obey our Heavenly Father as He did?! Then, are we eager, like Jesus was eager, to love and pursue righteousness and to turn from - to hate – wickedness as He did? That's when the oil of gladness anointing comes! That's when the coronation in our lives comes!

Then, look what happens. Philippians 2:10-11, the end results of Jesus' Incarnation and Humiliation: “that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every knee in heaven, on earth and even under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”, the Servant, God the Son, who chose to let go of His equality with His Father, that He might take up a basin, a towel and a cross, the Servant, He is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, and in that, through that, guess what? God, His Father, is glorified! God is glorified!

Let's pray.

Father, these words, “let this mind be in you,” they are so simply and understandable. And, yet, for all of us, so prone as we are to pursue strife and vain glory, those words are so difficult to do, to carry out day-by-day. Father, as Your frail children, would You help us to pursue Your righteousness, to eagerly seek to conform ourselves to Your plan to die to self, that You and You alone may be glorified. And that we – yes, we – by Your grace might share in Jesus' rule and reign for eternity. In Jesus' name, Amen.”

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