Liturgy of the Passion: The Epistle Passage – The model of the Messiah, Jesus Christ

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5 – 8)

I needed to go back and set these verses in context. The writer of Philippians (Paul) had just gotten done encouraging his readers saying, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” (Verse 4) He exhorted them to take Christ’s love, compassion, and caring as their guide. I do not think he meant for his readers (or us) to compare ourselves with the Son of the Divine, as if we were equal in divinity with Christ and our Lord God. Paul has always set Jesus as our exemplar; and it is good that we do so. But to claim divinity with the Messiah is just a step to far. Even Paul, as he continues in the passage reflects the same.

“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Verses 9 – 11)

So just how much, how far should we take our emulating Jesus Christ? That is a mighty and lofty question. It is a question, perhaps, that should have been posed to us earlier in Lent. So let us sit with that question for a time, returning to it after some thought. Shalom!