Being found in appearance as a man, [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
In 27 bc, the Roman ruler Octavian came before the Senate to lay down his powers. He’d won a civil war, become the sole ruler of that region of the world, and was functioning like an emperor. Yet he knew such power was viewed suspiciously. So Octavian renounced his powers before the Senate, vowing to simply be an appointed official. Their response? The Roman Senate honored the ruler by crowning him with a civic crown and naming him the servant of the Roman people. He was also given the name Augustus—the “great one.”
Paul wrote of Jesus emptying Himself and taking on the form of a servant. Augustus appeared to do the same. Or had he? Augustus only acted like he was surrendering his power but was doing it for his own gain. Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Death on a Roman cross was the worst form of humiliation and shame.
Today, a primary reason people praise “servant leadership” as a virtue is because of Jesus. Humility wasn’t a Greek or Roman virtue. Because Jesus died on the cross for us, He’s the true Servant. He’s the true Savior.
Christ became a servant in order to save us. He “made himself nothing” (v. 7) so that we could receive something truly great—the gift of salvation and eternal life.
Why is it true that we’re never out of God’s reach? What does it mean for you to know that Jesus is the Servant who suffered and died in order to save you?
Dear Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for me. Your servanthood wasn’t a show but the reality of Your love for me. Fill my heart with love and gratitude today.
In Philippians 2, Paul uses the word humility only in reference to Jesus’ death (v. 8). Though certainly Christ’s taking on human form was an act of humility, death was the ultimate act of humility for the second person of the Trinity, who is eternal and everlasting.
Paul says Jesus “humbled himself” (v. 8). It’s interesting to note the reflexive language used here. Jesus wasn’t humbled by death; He willingly humbled Himself in obedience so he could die. Because He humbled Himself, God restored Him to the place of honor from which He came. Jesus is the one to whom all creation will bend its knee (v. 10).