The Humble Path to Victory

The Humble Path to Victory

Philippians 2:5–11 (ESV) 
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus:  We are defended by the most powerful military in the world.  We have access to the most powerful antibiotics ever produced.  Whenever we plug into a light socket we are connecting to turbines with millions of horsepower.  But these are mere playthings to the God who created the universe and cast blazing suns across the heavens.

For He is ALL-powerful.  He has cast the mightiest spirit-beings created, the angels (the fallen ones), down to hell, and has held them in bondage, accomplishing a victory that matters in heaven and on earth.

But in our text today and as the Palm Sunday message itself, we consider that God is so gracious that He did not just choose victory, but victory FOR US.  In His omnipotence, God could have cast us down with Satan, whose pawns we are when we are born.  But in His grace, God took

THE HUMBLE PATH TO VICTORY
I.  God Took the Humble Path To Include Us
II.  Victory Took Christ from the Depths to the Heights
III.  This Should Be Our Attitude Too

I.  God Took the Humble Path To Include Us
Every part of this is true: GOD took the humble path to include us.  God took the HUMBLE path to include us.  God took the humble path TO INCLUDE US.

By saying all three of these things, here in our text, Paul reveals a great mystery of our salvation.  (A “mystery” is something that is unknown, that is not understood, unless the answer is revealed.  This is why the “whodunits” are called mysteries.)

The first truth revealed is that GOD is the only one who can take the path that leads to our salvation:  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself… [made himself nothing]

For whoever was to accomplish our salvation, must possess the righteousness of God Himself.  What is more, He must be able to stand in for all of us, every one.  Finally, He must be able to give up His life and take it again.  All of this can be accomplished only by God Himself.

The second truth is that whoever is to save the human race had to live as we live, suffer as we suffer, be under the law as we are under the law, and die as we die. but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And the third is that God did this so that YOU would not be left out of His salvation. (He took the form a servant, like a true human being.) John puts it this way: 1 John 2:2 (ESV) He is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.   1 John 4:10 (ESV) In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for  [as the one who would turn aside His wrath, taking away] our sins. 

What this boils down to is that God the Son did what only He could do, and did the only thing that could save us – humbling himself to our level, so that YOU WOULD NOT BE LEFT OUT, SO THAT YOU WOULD BE INCLUDED IN His work of salvation.

Yes, you.  Because your sin had separated you from God. Here you and I are, wandering on our way through life, not serving, but seeking to be served and serving ourselves, as though we belong only to ourselves.

Christ became servant of all so that nobody would be left out of His saving work.  Not the people who were killed and mutilated in today’s attack on a church in Egypt, and more amazingly, not those who did the killing and the mutilating.  He atoned for their murderous rampage.

GOD took the humble path to include us.  God took the HUMBLE path to include us.  God took the humble path TO INCLUDE US.

II.  Victory Took Christ from the Depths to the Heights
And he was successful.  He did take our sins to the cross, and He did accomplish the redemption of your soul.  So the whole world will Honor Him!!

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Some, many, countless millions, will honor Him now, in this life.  For He speaks to you, whoever you are, to reveal to you the mystery of your salvation.  Like the people on the road into Jerusalem, we will cry out in joyful response, “Hosanna, Hosanna!  Hosanna in the highest!  Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.”  (Lord Save, Lord Save Now!  Above all things call upon Him for salvation, and Praise the One who lowly and humbly comes in the Name of the Living God.)

But, sad to say, there are others, who will not bow the knee in praise and thanksgiving and devotion now when the grace of God is poured out to them. They will do so only under His everlasting judgment. That is a warning to all the people who are indifferent to Christ and His word.  A while back I was visiting a delinquent member who said that the way he saw it, God just didn’t matter to him, and that should be OK with God.

Unbelievers are indifferent. Unbelief despises the love and mercy and the everlasting mercy of our God!  What, didn’t Jesus humble Himself enough for them, that they still despise Him for not honoring them as fit for heaven without Him?  They will not recognize the message as the GOOD NEWS that it is, if it infringes upon their idea that they own themselves.

III.  This Should Be Our Attitude Too
In contrast to this pride, we are to model the humility of Christ: 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. In humbling Himself, Jesus still did what you and I cannot do.  He lived righteousness itself, and became sin for us, so that His righteousness could become ours.

Faith reflects this attitude, that we look up to Christ in His humility, and find greatness not in putting ourselves above Him, but acknowledging that He, having stooped the lowest, to bear ALL the sin in the world – yours too – is our rescuer, our deliverer, our Savior.

And it is just such an attitude that makes a difference in our lives, and (as a result) in the world. We are free to serve.

Luther stressed this repeatedly and abundantly, in reference to the “Theology of the Cross,” the fact that we are called to serve and suffer and so find true joy in life and living. The greatest among us, God Himself, became our servant. 

Human beings were made to serve also, and find joy in it.  Do you think that you are a plumber, or a housewife, or a mom, or a teacher, or that you write computer code, or deliver mail, or sell products or services or care for the health of others, or keep track of business because it is what YOU choose?  Luther would point out that it is because it is the way you were made.  It is the “way you are wired,” as we say today.

Oh, people rebel against it, for sure, even to the point that women hate they are women and try to be men, and men hate they are men and try to be women.  That’s how extreme it gets.  Yet they find no true and lasting hope or joy in their rebellion.

But let me tell you, that you will find joy and fulfillment if you spend your life asking the question, ‘What has God made me for?  What does HE want to accomplish through ME?  How do I serve Him.”

Maybe it is keeping the pipes working, or the phones, or teaching.  Maybe it is feeding the little ones their vegetables.  Maybe it is giving your spuse the warmth of your embrace at the end of the day.  Maybe it is in doing without something, and giving, but that too can be a joy, for our Lord promises that He is able to give to us faster than we can give to others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 

It is a good way to remember His humble path to our victory.

AMEN