Strive to Possess a Christ-Life Attitude!
O Lord God, we come before You this day with joyous praise, acknowledging Your dear Son to be our Savior and King! Feed our minds with the truths of Your Word. Fill our hearts with the certainty of Your love. Move us to follow Jesus’ example of humility and service here in this world, as we await the glories of heaven—promises of Your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Moses foretold that God’s people would prove themselves unfaithful to Him by serving false gods, which would not help them, but rather would only hurt them. God here announces that He is the only true God, Who is in control of all things!
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday stood in stark contrast to His walk through Jerusalem’s street on His way to Calvary five days later. Here, however, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy Jesus came as the promised King in the name of the Lord!
Text: Philippians 2:5-11
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In Christ Jesus, who followed a path of humility leading to eternal glory, dear fellow redeemed:
Seldom will you observe a greater contrast: Jesus entering the gates of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday amid the cheers of an adoring crowd, and Jesus leaving the gates of Jerusalem six days later on Good Friday amid the jeers of an angry crowd. On Palm Sunday Jesus was hailed as “the Son of David,” (Matthew 21:9) and blessed as “the King who comes in the name of the LORD” (Luke 19:38). On Good Friday Jesus was labeled a blasphemer for claiming to be “the Son of God” (John 19:7) and ridiculed for His seeming helplessness in the face of cruel death.
This great contrast and seeming even greater contradiction resolves itself as God reveals His plan for our salvation. Jesus, while walking with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus on Easter Sunday afternoon explained, “Thus it was written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sin should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). Jesus Christ is God’s Son and the world’s promised Savior. He is a King, who came in the name of the LORD God of hosts. He permitted Himself to suffer in order that He might serve us by bearing the punishment we deserved in view of our sins. He was raised from the dead, sits now at God’s right hand, and will return at the end of time to judge both the living and the dead.
These are not, however, mere historic facts, which possess little meaning for us and have no impact on our daily lives. God has redeemed us—bought us back from sin and Satan’s dominion—through the death of His Son. We, therefore, belong to God, for we “have been bought at a price” and are now to “glorify God” in our bodies and with our spirits, which are God’s (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul here urges us to STRIVE TO POSSESS A CHRIST-LIKE ATTITUDE! We are to follow the example of Christ, for then we will share in the exaltation of Christ!
Paul begins our text by saying, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”
Paul urges us to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to have a Christ-like attitude. That example is one of becoming a “bondservant” or slave, and that attitude is one of complete humility. Both run contrary to our natural instincts and desires. By nature we do not want to serve, but rather we want to be served. By nature we are not humble, unless forced to be humble. Rather, we are generally proud and unbending individuals, who hate to admit we are wrong and take great satisfaction when we are proven to be right.
This tendency within us all is revealed rather strikingly by a story in Jesus’ life in which the mother of James and John came to him seeking their good fortune. She asked that they be given positions of great authority in Jesus’ kingdom—a request, which when it became known to the other disciples was much resented, for they themselves wanted such positions. Jesus responded to their ambition by saying, “Whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45). Who among us wants to be a slave? Does anyone go to school to become a servant? Do we want our children to grow up to be slaves? No, we speak of giving our children opportunities to “get ahead” and to “enjoy some of the finer things in life!” Yet, Jesus came into this world to serve, and Paul urges us to follow His example. This is not an option for us as children of God. Rather, it is God’s will and expectation.
Let us, therefore, examine Jesus’ example in order that we might follow in His footsteps. First of all, I would have you note that Jesus chose to serve, and that this choice was made from a position of strength and competence. Jesus was the Son of God. He possessed all power and all glory, and yet he chose to serve. When we think of servants and even more so when we think of slaves, we think of people who have no choice—individuals who are perhaps forced into such a condition against their will; individuals with no power and certainly stripped of any glory or dignity. Yet, for Christ, as indeed for every Christian, that is not the case. We are the redeemed children of God. As such, we share in Christ’s glory as His appointed kings and priests (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). When we choose to serve, we do so voluntarily, seeing the needs of those around us and seeking to meet those needs using all of our talents. Yesterday was a prime example, as over forty of you gathered here voluntarily to use your assorted talents to clean, to repair, and to complete many projects here at church.
Jesus, we are told, secondly, while true God did not regard His equality with God something to be grasped by His hand and held up for public display. No and rather, He emptied Himself of the full-use of His power. In other words, He demonstrated restraint and self-control. So we are to demonstrate restraint and self-control as we seek to serve others. Parents and teachers are often much stronger than their children or their students, yet they are called upon to control their strength and to demonstrate proper restraint as they work to bring up those children in the training and admonition of the Lord (cf. Ephesians 6:4). Individuals within the medical field are strong and competent, yet they use that power with restraint at times, so that the needs of patients are met in the most gentle of ways.
Jesus we are told, thirdly, humbled Himself in obedience even to the point of death on the cross. Genuine service begins with humility, is carried out in obedience, and is revealed by self-sacrifice. Jesus placed Himself into our service to give us life and hope. He willingly obeyed the will of His heavenly Father in order to achieve the greater goal and good of our salvation. He gave Himself up in the most ultimate of ways—dying on the cross in order to overcome death and its cruel master, Satan. When we follow Jesus’ example, we place ourselves at the service of others in order to bring blessing into their lives. When we do so, we are obeying the will of our heavenly Father, who has called upon us to become living sacrifices for good (cf. Romans 12:1). In so doing, we will be called upon regularly to sacrifice our own desires in order to lift up the lives of others.
My dear friends, when we strive to possess a Christ-like attitude and follow His example, we may rest assured that God is well-pleased. The choice to serve on the part of the Christian is a choice made from strength by those who are competent—individuals under control and demonstrating restraint; individuals acting with humility in obedience and willing to make self-sacrifices. Such individuals will without doubt enjoy and experience the blessings of our God!
Therefore, I would encourage you STRIVE TO POSSESS A CHRIST-LIFE ATTITUDE, for you willshare in the exaltation of Christ! Jesus’ story does not end with Good Friday. Jesus’ humble death was followed by His glorious resurrection and ultimate exaltation. Paul writes, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
When Jesus arose from the dead, He confirmed all of the Old Testament prophecies declaring Him to be the world’s Savior. His heavenly Father then exalted Him to His right hand, bestowing upon Him all power and authority in heaven and on earth (cf. Matthew 28:19). Jesus will one day, in spite of all of man’s speculations to the contrary, return to judge the living and the dead. At that time, those who scorn Jesus and scoff at His Word will be forced to bow their knee before the Lord of heaven and earth. At that time—believer and unbeliever alike will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. For the believer Jesus’ return will mark the beginning of the glories of heaven, while for the unbeliever that return will mark the beginning of the sufferings of hell.
The gospel message assures us that by grace through faith in Jesus we become the children of God and heirs of life everlasting. Paul writes to the Galatians, “You are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-29).
What is marvelous is that the Bible also assures us that as we willingly follow the example of our Savior, we will also and without doubt receive a reward of His grace. While we may not always experience those rewards here in this life, our blessed Savior still promises to uphold us while we are here in this world, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous, right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He then goes on to assure us, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:41-42). What will those rewards include? Paul writes, “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8), and Jesus assures all who believe in Him that on the last day these are the words they will hear, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
Dear friends, as we make our spiritual journey through Holy Week once again this year, may the image of our Savior impress itself upon our hearts. May we ever STRIVE TO POSSESS A CHRIST-LIFE ATTITUDE, following His example and then sharing in His exaltation! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting