November 22 I Sunday
“…being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” —Philippians 2:7-8
The first stanza of the “Christ hymn” in Philippians 2:6-7 talked about Jesus’s pre-earthly existence—that Jesus, who was inwardly and outwardly divine, emptied Himself and took the nature or form of a servant. The second stanza in Philippians 2:7-8 continues by looking into Jesus’s earthly existence.
Philippians 2:7 tells us, “…being made in human likeness.” The Greek word homoioma translated “likeness” emphasizes a likeness of similarity, while at the same time, difference. We could interpret the verse to mean that Jesus bore the resemblance of humanity. He came in the likeness of humanity. He became a human, but not merely a human being, because Jesus never ceased to be God. This is where Jesus’s likeness with humanity is distinct; He was truly man, but not merely a man, like all other men.
Simply from the first two stanzas of this Christ hymn, we have two of the greatest theologies of the Church. The first greatest theology is the doctrine of Trinity, where God is One but exists in three forms—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus existed with God before His incarnate self on this earth. The second greatest theology is the two natures of Jesus, where He was fully God, yet fully man. Jesus came into this world through a virgin birth and, though exhibited all the traits of a human being, He was nevertheless God. Altogether, the One who always existed in the form of God, in equality with God, emptied Himself and took on human likeness, yet never ceasing to be God in the process.
The natural question concerning Jesus’s descent of self-emptying and taking on human likeness begs one to ask, “Why did He do this? Philippians 2:8 answers, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” We see the humility of Christ.
Not only did the Creator enter into creation and bear the likeness of being one of the created, He was also obedient, even obedient unto death on a cross, a cruel way to die. This is a great revelation, especially when we understand what Jesus did in contrast to the first man, Adam, who was disobedient in the Garden of Eden because he wanted to be like God. Hence, the magnitude of Philippians 2:8 highlights how Jesus, with such humility, even though possessing the inward and outward expression of who God is, emptied Himself and took on the nature of a servant, becoming obedient to death. As we begin to understand the vast scope of Christ’s humility, may we be challenged by Paul to make our attitudes the same.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for humbling Yourself when You came into this world to save humanity from sin by dying on a cross. Praise You!