Human and Divine
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! ” Philippians 2:6–8
We have come to one of the most well-known and well-loved passages from Paul’s letters, the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. Over the centuries, scholars have debated whether Paul based this part of his letter on an hymn of the early church. We can’t be sure, but we know that Paul longs that the church at Philippi would die to their own agendas and squabbles so that they could have the same mindset as Christ.
As Paul sits in chains, probably wondering if he’ll be executed, he emphasizes to the church at Philippi the saving and freeing work of Jesus. Though Jesus was of the same nature as God – they were of the same divine substance – he humbled himself and became a man. That Jesus became fully human while still being fully God meant that he could become a bridge between us and God; he lowered himself so that we could have union with God.
We’ll never be able to humble ourselves as much as Jesus did. But because he emptied himself, as we grow in his likeness, we too can grow in humility and servanthood. Our old self, marked by pride and ambition, recedes in the background as we increasingly exude gentleness and humility.
Ponder the deep sacrifice Jesus made in taking human form.
Lord Jesus Christ, you emptied yourself so that I might be free. May I share this freedom with others. Amen.