“Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ:
Who, being in the very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness...”
~Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV).
This is astounding Scripture, plain and simple. Imagine a picture of God—pre-Jesus—that casts the one and only Deity, creator of everything, as One that makes as part of the plan to redeem fallen humanity to become incarnate; to come and be the sacrificial Lamb that saves humankind, to the very last man, woman and child, to reconcile them finally to God.
Little wonder Satan didn’t predict it.
No wonder Satan was licking his proverbial lips as Jesus cried out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,’” on the cross (Mark 15:34b). Oh how the wisdom of God has now since overthrown the cataclysmic curse of the Fall.
Never in the gospels is Jesus seen defending himself beyond normal self-respecting means or purposes. And this is important so far as humility is concerned. Humility is balance. It’s not thinking less of ourselves than we ought to, but it’s a right-sized view of ourselves in the mix of our contemporaries and our situations.
And, still, out of this situation, Jesus was God.
He was from God, and it is reasonably accepted in the faith that whilst Jesus was with us he was both one hundred percent Divine and one hundred percent living, breathing and blood-pumping human being too.
And it’s from this context we consider that he wasn’t too proud to play out personally his own gruesome destiny.
Surely God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, could have had someone else climb upon that cross... but that was the wisdom of God—for Love could have it only one way... the suffering servant Saviour motif was the only way it could be. We can see it now, but only from our right-sized theological hindsight.
Just One Snapshot
So, we could have analysed many things from the gospel accounts with regard to Jesus’ humility, but this very passage of Paul’s places such a deliciously bizarre paradox before us.
Such was Jesus’ humility, he—“the very nature God”—considered himself nothing to suffer the shame and torturing pain to go to the cross for you and I. Another way of looking at it is, Everything (i.e. God) become nothing... for that moment... for us.
What ‘God’ does that?
We can never come to the fullest understanding of this concept, but we’re ever so blessed for trying.
(This was the third article of a five-part series to look at the ‘clothing of love’ so far as Jesus is concerned out of Colossians 3:12-14. The first was on Jesus’ compassion and the second was on Jesus’ kindness. Further articles in the series will look at Jesus’ gentleness and patience.)
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.