6 Christ Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:6-11)
Divine humility. Sounds contradictory? You don't understand Christmas.
Jesus Christ, existing in the form of God, made a judgement. That's right. Before Christmas morning, Jesus took a decision. (btw, v6 is proof that it's ok to call the pre-incarnate Son 'Jesus' - but that's for another time...)
Now you didn't decide to get born. I'm guessing if you had been offered the chance to get born, you'd have taken it. But Jesus had to choose to get born. And I promise you, if you were in His shoes, you'd never have chosen what He chose. If you were in very nature God, surrounded by the worship of heaven, able to do whatever you pleased, you would not have chosen what Jesus chose. Because this is how Jesus considered things: Being in very nature God, He chose not to grasp at His power or to exploit it. Instead He chose total self-emptying. He chose servanthood. He chose to humble Himself. He chose obedience. He chose death. He even chose the death of the cross - lifted up as an accursed thing. That was Jesus' consideration - being the God that He was.
Question: Would you have chosen that?
Answer: No. Every day I fail to give up even the smallest of comforts. Let alone to give up my very life! Let alone to suffer godforsaken hell - and that for enemies! Would I have chosen this path? No!
Question: Well if Jesus did make this choice, did that stop Him from being in very nature God?
Answer: By no means! He is ongoingly, continually 'in very nature God'.
Question: Well then, is Jesus' self-emptying a major detour from His glory in the form of God?
Answer: No this is what equality with God actually looks like! This is the very expression of the Father's glory - not exploiting but emptying.
Since He is in the form of God so He took to Himself the form of a slave! And in this self-emptying He shows what true equality with God looks like. It looks like the crib and the cross!
Christmas morning and Good Friday are not detours from the glory of God. They show us that divine glory at full strength. In eternity Jesus made this consideration. He chose His history as the incarnate Servant to be that which truly expresses His equality with God. And the Father affirms this choice - hyper-exalting He who hyper-humbled Himself. And into all eternity we will gladly serve the Servant. (And don't forget, He will serve us! Luke 12:37!)
Implication: The baby in the manger, the victim on the cross - this is what it means to be in very nature God.
What is God's nature? Don't simply look to the crown. Look to the crib and to the cross. God's nature is disclosed as one of utter self-giving. Divine humility.
A sermon by Darrell Johnson on this passage (one of my favourite sermons ever!)
See other Christmas posts here.
And of course the ultimate Christmas sermon: