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"Christ's Humility at Calvary" (posted March 2, 2008)
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
- Philippians 2:8
"He humbled Himself." Perhaps more exactly, "He made Himself low," or "He made Himself very low." The word is used in old writings, speaking of the river Nile, "it runs low." As God, He emptied Himself (verse 5); as Man, He made Himself low.
This is a further step downwards than being found in fashion as a man, for He might have been found in fashion as a man and have chosen to be an emperor or a mighty king. He might have chosen honor and wealth. But not so: "He made Himself low, He humbled Himself." He could say, "I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29).
But let us remember that this is "the High and Lofty One... whose name is Holy" (Isaiah 57:15). After meditating on His path downwards, we can better understand His words that follow: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him [also] who has a contrite and humble spirit." How much most of us need to gaze upon Him, till we are in some measure changed into the same image and have that mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus.
And now we come to what we would have supposed was the last step He could take: "obedient to the point of death." He had taken the form of a slave, and the slave's portion was obedience; and He showed forth His obedience, even until death. It was obedience to His Father's will, even unto death. Our Lord had said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13). And His death at Golgotha not only manifested forth His matchless love but also His devoted obedience.
Could there be another step downwards, beyond death? We would not have thought so; but the Father, who looked down with perfect delight on all that pathway, sees one more step: Not only did He become obedient unto death, but that death was the death of a cross. That last step tells out the awfulness, the horror, the shame, the anguish of the death to which He became obedient.
We see better the force of the words that tell out that last step when we ponder such scriptures as "Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumblingblock" (1 Corinthians 1:23); "the offense (scandal) of the cross" (Galatians 5:11); "Jesus... endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). There was probably no death from which one would so much shrink as the death of the cross. It was to this, the lowest step that could be taken, that the Lord of glory went.
Beloved, let us remember: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).
And let us remember also our Lord's own words: "He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:38).
G. Christopher Willis