Jesus as Humble Servant
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We are focusing on another aspect of Jesus, this time as “humble servant.” Note the two different components of this term:
In this lesson we will attempt to use this passage from Philippians as our anchor passage and examine:
Jesus humbled Himself
Jesus became obedient
Jesus was obedient to the point of death
Jesus Humbled Himself
Jesus Humbled Himself
What does it mean to humble yourself?
The BDAG Greek Lexicon, 3rd edition, says the word used here in our passage carries the general definition of “to cause someone to lose prestige or status.” It further states that in the case of this passage it focuses on “reversal of status.”
John shows us the previous status of Jesus before He was on the earth.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
These verses in our anchor passage show us the status of Jesus after He left the earth.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What we are examining is what Jesus did while on the Earth. He humbled himself, meaning he lost his status and instead reversed His status. His previous status was God almighty, His new status was a man who was lowly, homeless, rejected, and a man of sorrows.
Notice we are not talking about being humbled by others. We might be humbled when our boss tells us what a bad job we did, or when we realize we have done something wrong because someone else tells us. Notice the reflexive pronoun “himself.” Jesus is the subject, the verb is the action He performed, which is “humbled,” and the object of that action is “himself.” Jesus did this of His own will. He reversed His status and became a man.
Jesus Became Obedient
Jesus Became Obedient
Why would Jesus reverse His status? Why would He become a man?
We could list different reasons but there are two reasons we want to focus on for the moment. 1) To be the perfect example of a man, and 2) to be the perfect sacrifice.
1) To be the perfect example of a man
Our past includes us not following God’s commands. That’s what brought in sin and death in the first place. Jesus showed us that it was possible to avoid sin and be obedient.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
No matter what temptations the devil puts in our way, there is a possibility to sin, and there is a possibility not to sin. We must exercise our freewill by choosing not to sin as Jesus showed us was possible.
To be obedient to God, we must humble ourselves. Pride and obedience do not go together.
Satan wishes us to think we should exalt ourselves by reversing our status as men and put ourselves on the throne of God.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Satan is calling God a liar and telling Eve that she can exalt herself above her status as a woman and be “as gods.”
Jesus reversed His status from God to a humble man who became obedient.
We will not be able to be obedient to God if we continually listen to the lie of Satan that we should exalt ourselves up.
Pride in ourselves and our status will be our own destruction.
Pride goeth before destruction, And an haughty spirit before a fall.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Paul spoke of the dangers of an elder being lifted up with pride.
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
What caused the devil to fall? Pride. What will cause an elder to fall? Pride. What will cause a Christian to fall? Pride. Why? Because pride will cause us not to be obedient to God because we believe that we deserve a better status than what we have. That’s what Eve thought. I don’t want to do what God says because I deserve better than that.
Obedience to God requires us to humble ourselves, to reverse our status from the high position we think of for ourselves, and instead put ourselves into a lowly position, that of a humble servant.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
If we cannot imagine ourselves doing something degrading, lowly, humiliating, or embarrassing, then we need to stop claiming we are followers of Christ because that’s exactly what Christ did.
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Jesus gave us the example of the humble servant. Yes, He was Master and Lord, but He reversed His status, He humbled Himself, and He took on the role of servant. Not only that, He told His apostles, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” These are the apostles, the twelve chosen specifically by Jesus, the twelve who would be endowed with the miraculously endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the ones who had inner access to God in the flesh. So what did Jesus tell them to do, get down on your knees and clean the dirt out from between other people’s toes. In essence, reverse your status from high to low, humble yourself and become a servant to others.
Would you get close to someone with a deadly disease if you could help them? Jesus did.
And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
Would you eat with sinners? Jesus did.
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Would you go to a prison to serve others?
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Becoming a humble servant starts with the mind. It’s ignoring the devil’s lie that says “You deserve better” and instead stating the truth as the Prodigal Son did.
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
As sinners, we all deserve death. We are no longer worthy to be called the children of God. But, oh how fortunate we can be when God not only makes us a servant, but also adopts us into His family.
2) To be the perfect sacrifice
When man sinned, he rebelled against God’s commands. That sin caused the penalty of death, or separation, to be imposed. We became separated from God.
The second reason Jesus came to Earth to be a man is because God lost a perfect man and only a perfect man could restore back to God what He had lost.
Could Jesus have been the perfect sacrifice if He had not humbled Himself and become obedient? If He had not humbled Himself, He would never have come to Earth to be a man. If He had not become a servant, He would never have been obedient to God. If He had not become obedient to God, He would have been a sinner and could not be our perfect sacrifice. If he could not be our perfect sacrifice, we would be lost.
In other words, if Jesus had not become a humble servant, He would never have left Heaven and become obedient to God as the perfect man and been able to pay the penalty for our sins.
Jesus Was Obedient to the Point of Death
Jesus Was Obedient to the Point of Death
How far would Jesus go in humbling Himself and becoming obedient to God?
Jesus would do something that did not really benefit Himself, but would be obedient to God
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Why was Jesus baptized? To my knowledge, it did not benefit Him. But He did it in order to be obedient to God.
Would you do something that you thought had no benefit to yourself, but would cause you to be in obedience to God’s will? Or, would you say, this doesn’t do anything for me, so I’m not going to do it?
Jesus paid taxes He didn’t have to pay in order not to offend others.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
I’m not suggesting we become “politically correct,” and not speak truth in order not to offend others, but how much easier would it be to evangelize to others when they see you concerned over them, rather than satisfying your own personal desires? Would people come to visit our church if they saw us ignoring their feelings on an issue because we knew that it was something we didn’t have to do? Would people who believed differently than we do be open to a Bible study if we make fun of them because of their beliefs?
Which is more important, our pride or their souls?
Paul wrote to the Romans and stated that he believed that it was okay to eat meat that had been offered to idols. But, he also told the Christians there to treat those who disagreed with love.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
How do I treat those with whom I disagree? With love. I put them first and do not use my liberties to become a stumblingblock to their attempts at serving God. Love is doing what is best for others, even if it means you don’t get what you want.
Would I perform an action that I didn’t have to do if it meant I would not be a stumblingblock to others? Jesus did. Paul said Christians should.
Jesus was obedient to the point of death.
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Was Jesus inconvenienced by His death? Was Jesus humiliated by His death? Was Jesus uncomfortable in His death? Did Jesus deserve better than His death? The answer to all these is “Yes.” Then why in the world did He go through all the agony, humiliation, and die on the cross, especially considering it was something He didn’t have to do? Of course, the answer is love. Love is when you do something for others, even if it means you don’t get what you want.
Jesus humbled Himself, reversed His status from God in Heaven to Man on Earth. He became obedient to God and a servant to God and man. He became a perfect man obeying God and that allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice. He is the perfect example to us as a humble servant.
If what we have concluded is true, then we might expect to find others imitating Christ, humbling themselves and serving God and man.
In truth, there are examples of this in the New Testament. Paul said that he imitated Christ.
Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Would Paul do something he didn’t believe he had to do if it meant not becoming a stumblingblock to others? Yes, it was Paul who wrote this very idea to the Romans.
Would Paul perform actions even if it really may have had no benefit to him but might avoid alienating or offending others?
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
Did Paul have to keep to the old Mosaical law? No. So why did he do these things? To maintain peace.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
In Acts 15 there is a discussion among the apostles about whether circumcision is binding. Their conclusion was that it was not. Paul was there. But then notice what he does in Acts 16.
Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
Would you submit to elective surgery if you thought it would make you less offensive to others or perhaps make you more able to evangelize to them?
Would Paul allow himself to be beaten or killed in order to be a follower of Christ?
Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
What about us? Do we believe the devil’s lie that we shouldn’t do things that are unworthy of us, inconveniencing to us, degrading to us, make us look bad, or non-beneficial to us? Or are we willing to humble ourselves? Lower our status? Become an obedient servant? Clean the dirt from between someone’s toes? Talk with lepers or prostitutes? Be beaten? Be killed? Jesus was. If we aren’t willing to do these types of things, then we aren’t willing to be a follower or imitator of Jesus. That means we aren’t willing to be a Christian, because that’s what a Christian is, a follower and imitator of Jesus.
Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Jesus was a humble servant. Are we?
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.