“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11 ESV)
The major concern on Christmas season is this. Most Christians around the world tend to see Jesus as a baby born in a manger and not as the One coming “in the likeness of men.”
The truth is that the Christmas future is no longer about the baby, but the second coming of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
I firmly believe that what happened in the past is a guarantee of the certainty of the future. I understand if some us would find this too optimistic, especially in the light of what’s going around us today.
The point is: If God was able to fulfill His promises in the past, He is able to fulfill the coming of the Christmas future.
In the light of the biblical prophecies in the past and the recent events in Israel at present, the clues for the future are showing that the coming of the Lord is near.
So let’s take a look. What does this song tell us about the Christmas future? And what can we do about it today?
THE EXALTATION OF JESUS (v.9a)
This ancient hymn has a very deep theology about Jesus Christ. Even today, Christian theologians continue to comprehend and understand its beauty and depth. In fact, so many books have been written about it through the centuries.
The text quoted above is a part of an early hymn of the Christian church. We can also call this “the Christmas song” in the Bible that summarizes the Christmas past, present, and future.
The verses show us the past when Jesus was “beingborn in the likeness of men” came into this world, present in “being found in human form,” as well as future when everyone will declare Jesus as “Lord.”
This one thing is certain. Jesus was exalted—once and for all the world to see.
Prophets prophesized and angels in heaven sang of His birth. Imagine how the angels would have reacted when they saw the Son of God who was born in a smelly manger.
And yet, God’s Son came in such a lowly place. As Ptr. Jerry Lepasana puts it. “He was willing to take the lowest level in order to bring us to the highest level of blessings.”
In the context, the hymn-text captured the unique nature of Jesus Christ and His deep humility, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (vv.6-7).
This means Jesus is divine. But even though He is coequal with God, He voluntarily surrendered his divine attributes and glory to become human at the first Christmas. He did not consider it as a threat to His nature as God or as something inferior to the Father. He also emptied Himself of the position of being seated in equal with God.
The first Christmas did not make Jesus less than God. In fact, it showed the true nature of the God of the Bible.
Further, it says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” So, even though Jesus is co-equal with God the Father (as well as the Holy Spirit), He humbled Himself. For this, the Father exalted Him up.
The truth is Jesus was born to die and the One who was hanged at the cross was God crucified.
The apostle Paul exclaims, “Therefore God has highly exalted him” (v.9a). It literally means, the Father has “super exalted” Jesus—not because He is lower than God the Father or the Holy Spirit, but Jesus was elevated to where He was positioned originally—at the right hand of God’s throne.
The biggest challenge of our generation is that many people tend to grab and hold on to the highest levels of position in life and career without recognizing the need for humility.
People want the altitude of highest success but not the attitude for humble service.
There is only one problem. There is no amount of success that can sustain significant success without humility.
This Christmas is a great reminder that the Christlike mindset and attitude is totally opposite to what the world worships today. In a culture that idolizes the narcissistic, ego-centered, and selfish attitude, humility is perceived as weakness.
But in the eyes of God, humility is a strength. The ability to control your pride is much better than the greed for power and position.
Remember this. Mature Christians do not need positions in order to serve God.
The most dangerous people in the ministry are those who want to position themselves without understanding the true nature of servant leadership in the ministry.
But God wants to position those He foreknew who should be serving.
Those who want to lead for the Lord must learn how to serve and make sacrifices first. For without the cross, there is no crown.
That’s the reason why Paul instructed early Christians of Philippi. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (vv.3-5).
When someone claims to grab any positions without consideration of God’s process in molding the attitude, even if the person would get them, soon it will show that the person is not the right fit for the work and leadership.
How much more if they don’t get the position! The natural reaction will only prove whether the person is Christlike or not.
If you want God to exalt you in due season, embrace humility. Jesus did it. So are we.
Glenn Plastina (c) 2017
(To be continued 1 of 3)
Next —- II. The Established Lordship of Christ
Forward —- III. The Enduring Glory of God