The Great Change
March 9, 2020

The Great Change
Philippians 2:5-11

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A couple of weeks back I wrote several thoughts talking about Jesus’s not so popular message and that which is the hardest thing for us as Christians to possibly say and do.

As I see it, Jesus wasn’t about winning friends and influencing people, as Dale Carnegie would like to say. Jesus never watered down the message, or what it meant to be a disciple, just to have larger crowds and greater attendance.

Instead, Jesus said to those wishing to follow, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head…Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God…No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 NKJV)

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is more than merely reciting a creed or stating a belief, or belonging to a church. Jesus made sure that those who follow Him understood the costs.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

Jesus wanted to make sure that those who would be His followers that they’d be willing to be living sacrifices for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.

Jesus wasn’t trying to garner popular support; rather He was after men and women who would be found trustworthy in times of crisis, and who would be unwavering in their devotion to God.

And so, when I got to what Paul said about himself, and how he put himself out there as an example, I thought, would I ever have the guts to say something like this, and by my actions live it out?

Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV)

This truly is the hardest thing that we as Christians can say. But as believers we are to be followers of Jesus Christ, not just imitators. Being a believer in Jesus Christ is about letting Jesus live in us and through us. That is when others will see Jesus in our actions and speech.

Now, this has been ruminating within me, and knowing that we were getting close to ending our series on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the Lord brought me to what Paul said about Jesus to the Philippian church and how it should dictate our actions and respond to the world around us.

What Paul says is the heart of Jesus Christ towards us, why He came, and what His attitude was to His mission and purpose while He was here upon the earth, and then it looks at the glorious ending when such an attitude is kept.

Read Philippians 2:5-11

It is difficult for us to imagine taking on someone else’s mind, or having a mind transplant. When thinking about this my mind goes back to the movie with Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman called, “Young Frankenstein.” In the movie, Marty Feldman plays the part of Egor, and he’s sent to the local brain depository to get a brain for Frankenstein. However, when taking the mind of a great scientist off the shelf, he drops and shatters it, and so he picks up the one next to it. After realizing that it wasn’t the brain that he had asked for, Wilder asked what was the name on the jar, to which Feldman said, “Abi Normal.”

A heart transplant is one thing…but having the mind of someone else is something entirely different, and it can be a somewhat a scary thing. But this is exactly what we’re asked to do, and Paul tells to have the same mind within us that was within Jesus, and then precedes to tell us exactly what that mind looks like.

He said, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5 NKJV)

More literally it says, “Be thus minded,” or better yet, this is what your attitude should be, which for us, what I believe we’re being told is that we need an attitude adjustment.

When thinking about this I wondered, “What did Jesus have in mind, or, what was Jesus thinking about, leaving behind His heavenly abode to come down to this earth and live as a human being, that is, to live in an earthly abode, not to mention living in poverty as well.”

Well He wasn’t thinking of Himself, that’s for sure as it goes on to say that He emptied Himself. And what this points to is that this is something Jesus did voluntarily. It wasn’t something that was required; rather it was self-imposed. Jesus chose this path of self-emptying, self-humbling, and self-sacrifice for the purpose of setting us free from the power of sin and death over our lives.

So, what was on Jesus’s mind? What was His attitude? Can I put this forward? Jesus looked at us, and obeyed the Father for our sake, giving freely and willingly His life upon the cross, to forgive our sins and to redeem us, that is, to make us right with God. He was thinking of us, not Himself.

Therefore, if we are then to have the mind of Christ in this matter, if we are to have the same attitude about what we do in this life as Jesus had when He left heaven to become one of us, what we need is a complete overhaul, or what we need is an attitude adjustment.

And we see though Jesus’s example, laid out for us here in Paul’s letter, exactly how we can get our attitude adjusted the right way. And I see this in three distinct areas.

1. Jesus Emptied Himself

“Being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7 NKJV)

Now, we all know what it means to empty something. Like when we empty a pitcher of water. You see, to empty a pitcher of water, there must first be water in the pitcher.

Notice it says that Jesus “being in the form of God,” and then being “equal with God.” Jesus, prior to His coming to this earth as a human being, as a man, was no one less than God, or as we’ve been studying about the Trinity, the second person of the Godhead. Jesus was God, even though He was man.

Notice what the Apostle John said about Jesus, that He was always God from the very beginning.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3 NKJV)

And then we’re introduced to the incarnation, that is, God taking on the form of a man. This is seen in verse 14 where John said, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)

Now, the idea of Jesus being equal with God, while He never promoted this reality, He also didn’t shy away from it either. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.” And the Jewish leaders knew exactly what He was saying, so much so that they picked up stones to stone Him to death because He made Himself equal with God (John 10:33).

And here’s the point, Jesus didn’t give up or get rid of His divine nature, but rather what He did give up are the prerogatives of His Deity. That is, that which was his right and privilege to hold seeing that He was God. These prerogatives include things like being worshiped, proclaiming judgment, and taking vengeance.

And so, just how did He empty Himself, He did so by taking on the form of a human being, but not just any human being, but that of a servant, or more literally, a slave, the lowest position of servitude. This attitude is seen in His washing the feet of the disciples at the last Passover prior to His death.

And while He was still God, seeing that He never gave up His divine nature; instead what Jesus did was that He displayed the nature of God while in the nature of a servant.

Jesus’s attitude in this was to freely and willingly abandon His heavenly prerogatives in order to accomplish a greater and more cherished purpose? Our Salvation.

He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Now, this doesn’t mean external features, but rather the characteristics and qualities. And so, being in the form of God, having the characteristics and qualities of God, He made the Great Exchange, and took upon Himself the form, or the characteristics and qualities of a servant, without giving up the other.

Further, Jesus didn’t count his godly status and authority as something to be exploited. The Greek word being used here speaks of seizing something like a prize.

The point of this verse is that Christ did not consider his godly status and authority something to be grasped for his own personal benefit. He understood their value, but was willing to sacrifice them in the service of a higher value, and that is our salvation.

How then does this relate to you and me?

It says that Jesus, “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,” that is, equality with God was not to be something that was to be grasped at. It was this very thing, trying to be like or equal with God that got humanity in trouble in the very beginning. Adam and Eve were deceived thinking that they could be just like God, that they could be all that plus a bag of chips if they ate from the tree of good and evil.

King David, one of the greatest kings spoken of in the Bible, a king by which all the other king’s lives and service were measured by. What was His attitude?

“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10b NKJV)

Even as leaders, we’re called to take upon ourselves the type of leadership displayed by Jesus, and that is of a servant leader. Jesus led by serving, and if we are to lead others to Christ, then we must do so by emptying ourselves, by becoming a servant to those who we are sharing the good news with.

And so this is the first thing we need to do to have that same mind that Jesus had, and have our attitude adjusted to the attitude of Christ.

2. Jesus Humbled Himself

This humility is seen in verse 7 where it says that He made Himself of no reputation, that is, He made Himself nothing. In other words, Jesus deliberately and willingly humbled Himself, to become one of us, a human being.

Paul goes on to say, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV)

Jesus’s whole life, His existence here upon this earth, from being a baby who was laid in a manger to the dying upon the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb was marked by genuine humility.

We first see this humility in His birth, as He was born, not in a palace, but in a barn and laid inside a manger, a feeding trough for animals (Luke 2:12). And then throughout his life as He said that foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Luke 9:57).

We also see this humility on the part of Jesus when at the Passover he picked up a water basin and towel and began to wash the disciples’ feet, a position that only the lowest servant of the house would occupy. And then He said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 NKJV).

But probably the greatest example of humility is seen in His becoming obedient to death, especially the death of the cross. Now, the cross back in the first century, was used as a form of tortious death (The word, “excruciating” is the term that describes it today, it means, “From the cross.”), and it was the most degrading way a person could die. Hung out there for all to mock and see. In Galatians 3:13, according to the Jewish law, anyone who was crucified was under God’s curse, which was taken from Deuteronomy 21:23.

He made himself of no reputation, that is, He made Himself nothing. The humility came not only in the incarnation, that is, coming as a newborn human baby, poopy diapers and all, but also at the cross.

He came from the throne of heaven, to a cold hard feeding trough for animals, to bowing down and washing the disciples feet, and then being hung on the cross for all to see.

In the same way, to have the mind of Christ, to have this attitude adjustment, we need to humble ourselves, that is, we’re not to think that we’re all that, as they say, and a bag of chips on the side.

Earlier, Paul said, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3 NKJV)

But it is in Jesus’s willingness to go to the cross, as He said to the Father, “Not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42) that we come to our last point in getting our attitude adjusted and our minds in tune with Jesus.

3. Jesus Sacrificed Himself

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV)

This was the ultimate sacrifice, and it was seen in the prophecy of the coming Messiah, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.

God says, “I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12 NKJV)

Jesus willingly and voluntarily emptied, humbled, and sacrificed Himself for us, therefore, can we then do any less.

Paul tells us, “Therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 NKJV)

We are to offer up ourselves as those living sacrifices, willingly and voluntarily sacrificing our needs, wants, and desires. And this Paul says is what is acceptable to God.

And this is what Jesus calls us all to do if we truly want to be His disciples

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

Please understand that the cross isn’t some inconvenience that we’ve been saddled with. We see this in what we say, “It’s the cross I have to bear.” (That has nothing to do with the cross.) Rather, when someone was carrying the cross, it meant that they were going to their death.


To have the same mind, the same attitude as Jesus, we are told that we need to empty ourselves, humble ourselves, and sacrifice ourselves. Now, this doesn’t look all that appetizing, and it is not something that is sought out. But what we have missed is the upside, that is, up to this point it all sounds like one big downer, but God has other plans when we do it His way, and that is our exaltation.

When Jesus, emptied Himself, humbled Himself, and sacrificed Himself it says that God exalted Him and gave Him a name that is above everything else in this universe.

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV)

And so it will be with us, when we followed these steps and possess the mind of Christ.

The Apostle James says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NKJV)

Jesus said, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 NKJV)

Jesus didn’t try to grasp His divinity as a human, but rather He emptied Himself.

First He gave up His place in heaven, to come down to this earth to be a servant. You might say it like this; He started at the very tiptop of the ladder, and descended to the bottom rung, or for that matter, below the bottom rung.

And Jesus gave us His all, that is, His life there upon the cross. And so, He ended up as low as a person could be, first as a babe lying in a manger, and then in the lowest position of servitude within a household in washing the disciple’s feet, and finally dying upon the cross for our sins. And as a result, He then ended up at the top of the ladder, sitting next to the Father in heaven.

And it was through His poverty and humility that He could then offer to us the riches of forgiveness for the poverty of our sins.

And so, let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.

We need to empty ourselves, humble ourselves, and sacrifice ourselves, and when we do, then we will be exalted with Him for all eternity in heaven.

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