Jesus Christ is Lord!
During Lent, we turn to the importance of humility. Scripture frequently talks about the need to be humble. Christians are called to follow Jesus' earthly example of humility and to humbly worship him as the exalted Lord over all.
1. Recognize the Context:
Today, we return to Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, specifically 2:9-11. As God from all eternity, Christ the Lord came to earth and took on human flesh in the incarnation. The life he lived as a human included a life of obedience and humility. The result was a horrific death on a cross. But thank God the story doesn't end there!
2. Read the Scripture: Philippians 2:5-11, emphasis on 2:9-11
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
In verse 9, God the Father becomes the subject. In view of Christ’s own divinity, incarnation, humble obedience, death on the cross, and resurrection, “God exalted him to the highest place.” This superlative indicates that Christ has been exalted to the highest place possible. In addition, God gave Jesus Christ the highest name possible.
In the Biblical world, a name was more than a way to distinguish individual persons. Names had significance because they were an extension of the person to whom they referred. Name and existence were inextricably linked to one another. A name reflected who a person was or what they would do. This is why it is so important to call on the name of Jesus. An individual who calls on the name of Jesus is calling on the person of Jesus—who he is, and what he has done.
Because of Jesus’ exaltation and the superiority of his name, he will be worshiped by all (verse 10). Paul expressed this future acknowledgment and worship by alluding to Isaiah 45:23. He took a passage that referred to the recognition of God’s greatness by all the nations and transferred it to the person of Jesus. As mentioned in a previous post, “Jesus was the game-changer.” This included how the Apostles understood the Old Testament and its fulfillment.
Paul believed everyone will eventually pay homage to the exalted Christ, just as the Magi and shepherds did at his birth. In verse 10, he used three prepositional phrases: in heaven (every heavenly being), on earth (every human being) under the earth (all those who have died and every spiritual being). His point—everyone! There will be no escape.
In verse 11, Paul noted that the homage paid will be accompanied by a verbal affirmation, “Jesus is Lord.” Paul again took an Old Testament title, only used of God and applied it to Jesus. This early confession “Jesus is Lord” had significance in the first century, and the Philippians were well aware of the power of this statement. It was the very reason they were experiencing persecution, and it was the reason Paul was in chains.
This title “Lord” was used to acknowledge the authority of gods or rulers. By saying “Jesus is Lord,” a person was also saying, “Caesar is not.” This was unacceptable to the Romans. Christians were persecuted and executed for such claims. However, this did not stop Christians from making this claim and has not throughout the centuries, even in the face of peril. Christians believe the Bible teaches either now or in the future, everyone will eventually acknowledge and confess “Jesus is Lord.” This will all be to the glory of God the Father.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully reflect on how Philippians 2:5-11 enables you to see the significance of the incarnation in light of Jesus’ humble and obedient life, death on the cross, resurrection, and exaltation by God the Father.
Prayerfully consider the confession “Jesus is Lord.” By confessing this, what are you saying is “not Lord” in your own life today? Be specific.
To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)
Given the reading and prayer suggestions above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, co-workers.