And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But words can paint pictures, too.
Maybe that’s why the Bible uses so many word pictures. Jesus used parables to explain mysteries of the kingdom of God. The gospel writers painted vivid scenes of the life and death of him as the Savior of the nations. Both Old and New Testament writers were led by the Holy Spirit to pen words that show details of the plan of salvation.
The apostle Paul was not at the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. At that time, he was still called Saul. He became a fierce enemy of those who followed the prophet from Nazareth—until he became a follower and a fierce defender of the faith.
In his letter to the Christians at Philippi, he paints a humble Jesus walking the path to Golgotha where the empty cross waits.
“Look at this!” he tells them, even as he tells us. It’s a picture not to be forgotten.
We have repeatedly looked at the pictures the Bible paints of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. This picture shows details that lie in the background.
We see the significance of Christmas. Jesus looked like a man, talked like a man, and acted like a man because he was a man. When he looked at himself in a mirror, he could see his human form.
But all the while, he was the eternal, omnipotent Son of God. His holy power and glory would naturally show through as it did at the burning bush of Moses—as it did on the Mount of Transfiguration.
He took steps to prevent that. He forbad demons to announce who he was. He was careful with his miracles. He allowed them to give only a glimpse of his glory.
He usually walked through doors, not walls. He grew hungry. He grew tired. He slept.
He was the Lord of glory. But he humbled himself.
Otherwise, the ropes would not have held him, and the nails would not have pierced him. He was God.
So, he humbled himself.
He needed to be able to die.
The apostle writes, “he became obedient to death.”
It was not an easy death. He bled. He suffered.
He obeyed the rules of death. He surrendered his life.
“Look at this!” the apostle shouts to us. “Don’t you see what he did for your sake? Don’t you see he did this willingly?”
“Don’t you see that he loves you?”
“Don’t you see what this means? Don’t you see that your sin is paid for? Don’t you see that the greatest honor in life is to be called someone who follows him? Belongs to him? Will spend eternity with him?”
“Look at this!”
“Don’t you see?”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep the picture of your willing sacrifice always before us, lest we forget. Lest Satan repaint the picture. Lest we become distracted by the cares and pleasures of this world. Lest we join those who live in darkness. Lest we lose sight of you. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.