November 23 I Monday
“...at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” —Philippians 2:10-11
There are three stanzas to the “Christ hymn” in Philippians 2. The first stanza in verses 6-7 talks about Jesus’s pre-earthly existence. The second stanza in verses 7-8 discusses Jesus’s earthly existence. And the third stanza in verses 9-11 considers Jesus’s post-earthly existence.
Paul writes, “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name...’’ (Philippians 2:9). The third stanza emphasizes the name that is given to Jesus, which brings glory to God the Father. The Greek word that is used in the passage for “Lord” is kurios. In Roman culture, that title is given to the Emperor because it is the highest term that could be used to exalt a man. In Jewish theology, Kurios is the term given to the name of God. Old Testament scribes would not write God’s name, Yahweh; instead, they would substitute it with Adonai in the Old Testament Hebrew. When they translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, they substituted Adonai with Kurios.
With context on the use of kurios, the third stanza of the hymn declares that Jesus Christ is worthy of the same name and reverence due to the emperor and even more so, Jesus Christ is worthy of the same name and reverence due to God. In other words, Jesus is worthy of the highest title that can be bestowed upon man and He is equally worthy of the highest title that can be bestowed upon God. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The key to understanding the “Christ hymn” is in Philippians 2:5: “…have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” By having the same mindset as Christ Jesus, the entire hymn hinges on these four words, “[He] did not consider...” (Philippians 2:6). This is a powerful phrase because all of salvation history rests upon those four words. In the council of the Godhead—Father, Son and Spirit—Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be used for His own advantage; rather, He emptied Himself, taking the very nature of servant.
We see the humility of Christ throughout the hymn as we take in Jesus’s pre-earthly state to understand what He did for all of us in His earthly existence. Because of Jesus’s obedience to die for the sins of humanity on the cross, He is worthy to be exalted on high in His post-earthly existence. May we have the same mindset as Jesus Christ, who during His pre-earthly existence, earthly existence and post-earthly existence, lived in humility and submission to God.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus Christ, how worthy You are to be exalted on high! Thank You for setting the perfect example for what it means to live humbly and in submission to God. Praise You!