The Heavenly Mind on Earth

Philippians 2:5-11.
W. J. Hocking.

“For let this mind be in you which [was] also in Christ Jesus; who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God; but emptied Himself, taking a bondman's form, taking His place in [the] likeness of men; and having been found in figure as a man, humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and [that the] death of [the] cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and granted Him a name, that which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly and earthly and infernal [beings], and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord to God [the] Father's glory” (J.N.D.'s Trans.).*

“For let this mind be in you which [was] also in Christ Jesus, who subsisting in God's form did not count it an object for seizing to be on equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking a bondman's form, having come in likeness of men; and, when found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him and granted Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus should bow every knee of [beings] heavenly and earthly and infernal, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord to God the Father's glory” (W. K.'s Trans.).*

{*The words in italics form the principal variations from the Authorised Version.}

In our various meetings during the last two or three days we have had brought before us a great deal concerning the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. We read together, for instance, yesterday afternoon the third chapter of this Epistle, which speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ, as He is now in the glory. In the second chapter, from which we have just read, we also have the Lord Jesus Christ, but as Man upon earth.

Indeed this Epistle, if we might characterise it as a whole in distinction from others, might be called, because of its presentation of Christ for the believer's life, the Epistle of true Christian experience. Christian experience should be, and, perhaps, in the majority of cases, is the experience of Christ by the saints of God as they pass through this world. This is well to note, for there are those who mistakenly imagine that Christian experience is our experimental knowledge of the hateful and unreliable nature which we all have within us, which is incorrigibly sinful, and will be so to the end.

But God's way with His children is that while they are in this world, so full as it is of vanity and vexation of spirit, and of things which are opposed to the new nature and distasteful to it, full of worries to bear, of afflictions to endure, of disappointments to suffer, they should yet be able, amid all these distractions, to feed upon Christ, and find in His love and care a sufficiency for every need. We know that heaven for us will be the utter absorption of our glorified persons in the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ; and then all our blissful activities will be in direct connection with Him who is the centre of that heaven. But the peculiarly sweet and precious experience of believers now is that in this very world where sin seems to dominate everything, and even to intrude into our very holiest and highest occupations — so much so that even when we gather together on the most solemn occasions, and taken up as we would then be with devotion and worship to God the Father and God the Son, even there sin — what is opposed to God — raises its shameless head and reminds us that we are on earth and not in heaven. Yet in the midst of such imperfection we have a secret spring of peace and joy, of which the world knows nothing.

The secret of that spring is in the sacred person of our Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to us in all our difficulties and trials, and speaks to our aching hearts His assuring word, “Fear not.” He lays His hand of power upon our weakness; He lifts us up when we feel that we are being trodden in the mire; He sets us going with fresh energy on our heavenward way; He fills, our hearts with gladness and with joy. This is true Christian experience; and this Epistle is full of references to such experience of Christ by Paul himself and by his Philippian friends.

Christ for our Daily Lives

The man Paul had in days past taught as an apostle in the great cities of the world; he had faced many varied audiences; he had endured many ordeals in carrying the gospel into the centres of the world's darkness and despair; he had smitten down Greek and Roman idols, and had won many victories for his Master; but now he was languishing as. a prisoner at Rome. There was nothing for Paul to do but to stand still and see someone else doing his life work. What was his inward resource amid all his suffering? He still found that to him to live was Christ and to die was gain. It did not matter to him whether Christ was magnified in his life or in his death (Phil. 1:20-21). The experience of life for him — when the manifold activities of a great nature such as Paul's was forbidden him — was to find that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was a sufficient compensation for every vicissitude he had endured and which he might yet have to endure.

Thus the experience of the great apostle comes down to the common experience of all believers. It may be just a little child who has confessed its faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has its troubles with its home lessons, who learns that it can find help and relief in that tender Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ; or it may be that some older person is burdened with those graver difficulties which so often come into men's lives, and he too learns to bow his knees in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and to find that help and grace which He is so ready and pleased to give. This is an experience of Christ which we shall not have in glory; but we have it here and now. Why then, my brethren, should we groan? Why should we be cast down, seeing we have such an One as our unchanging resource?

The Lord Jesus Christ is set before the heart of these Philippian believers in every chapter of this Epistle. In the second chapter we have the Lord Jesus Christ as a Man in this world; in the third chapter we have the Lord Jesus Christ as a Man in the excellent glory. The great thought which carries us forward as we read the third of Philippians is that where Christ is there we shall be also. But here in the second chapter we have what is supremely necessary for the formation of a practical Christian life and career. The Lord Jesus Christ is set forth as a pattern for us. We see in Him the humble Man who served God, even to death, the death of the cross. His mind should be in us.

The Blighting Influence of Self

The Philippians to whom the apostle was writing were active believers. They were not sitting down, enjoying their pleasures, and forgetting their responsibilities, but they were active in spreading the knowledge of the gospel; and a similar zeal was also noticeable among those at Rome.

But there were practical difficulties among the brethren that arose by reason of their commendable activities; there was something which mingled itself with their service, and spoiled its fragrance as a holy ointment. There was the symbol of death in it. This was the intrusion of self into the service of God. The most difficult problem which we have to encounter as children of God is the problem of ourselves. It is astonishing how many varied forms self can take. Only the word of God will infallibly show us what we ourselves are. Sometimes self intrudes into what we do and plan and purpose, and we are deceived, for we think it is someone else, whereas it is just ourselves, whom we do not recognize.

These persons, to whom the apostle refers, could not preach Christ without bringing themselves into the service, and making it an occasion for putting themselves forward, for being ambitious, for seeking the first place among their brethren. The news of this self-seeking reached the apostle, and it saddened him because it spoiled a good confession, and marred a good work. Christ was being preached, but oh, how badly, because they were preaching Him out of contention and strife, and not out of His constraining love.

It is often so with ourselves. What is it that makes Christians strive together? It is just self-seeking. X wants his own way; Y wants his own way; Z wants his own way; and the one who in the strife is the strongest, the one who can put down all others, is the one who gets the first place. Well, he has secured the first place; he has put himself in the forefront; he is before the eyes of others; but where is his Master? Where is Christ? Where is the pattern of the humble Man? The testimony that he should have rendered to the One who was here and who served God so perfectly in this world has been completely obliterated. In the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ there was no self. But in this case self has appeared and obscured the Master.

We must take the lesson to heart. There is only one cure for selfishness, and the apostle introduces this cure in the second chapter with that delicacy of treatment which he alone could give. He sends a message of love and exhortation to them, and puts his word of correction in this way. He says, “You will remember that ten years ago I was amongst you at Philippi; you will remember how I endured then, how I was in the prison then as I am now; you will remember under what circumstances we had fellowship in the gospel; and you must know the love of my heart for you, and I know your love for me, because you have been so ready to send your gifts for my necessity once and again. I still love you, and I desire Christ may be magnified in you, for nothing would give me greater joy than to see clearly in you the lineaments of the Master. Will you give me this joy? If there is any truth in the gospel and in the church, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any fellowship of the Spirit, any tender mercies and compassions,” he says, “fulfil ye my joy that ye be like-minded, that ye be of one accord, that ye be of one soul among yourselves.”

The Mind of Christ Jesus

What does all this exhortation mean? What is the apostle striving to bring home to their hearts? He desires that they should have the mind which was in Christ Jesus. If they were of one mind and of one accord in the Lord, it would be for this one reason, that the working of self was absolutely suppressed, and that Christ had the chief place among them. Every person would have the mind of Christ, and would be putting Christ first and putting himself entirely in the shade. If they were of one mind in the Lord, self would be out of action, and excluded.

Such is the only way in which believers can ever be of one mind. We find that its importance is such that Paul dwells upon this exhortation to the Philippians to be of one mind, and he strengthens his exhortation in a remarkable way by the verses which we know and love so well concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. He would not speak of himself as an example of unselfishness, as he had done in some other cases; he would not put the truth before them merely in a doctrinal form; he would not threaten them as if God were again speaking from Sinai with thunderings and lightnings; but he appeals to them by the example of our Lord Jesus Christ to cultivate a spirit of meekness and humility.

And so the waywardness of the Philippians has given us this incomparable picture of our Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation to death, even the death of the cross. Paul says, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. You will note how he puts it. He says, Let this mind be in you. He does not tell us to undertake some course of self-denial or fasting or prayer, some rigorous exercise of discipline, such as mortifying our bodies; but he just says, Let it be in you. The mind of Christ will be there most certainly if you will only let it be there. The Holy Spirit has come down to form Christ in you, and the mind of Christ will be active in you, if you will only let it be there. By putting this wretched self of yours in its place you shut the Master out, and thereby you shut out from your life that character which in Him was so pleasing to God.

We have on record in the Gospels that marvellous phenomenon of heaven re-opened, and of God the Father Himself speaking from heaven to human ears, and saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.” it was because the Son of God had come down into the place of utter lowliness that the Father spoke in that way. There was to the Father's eye the exhibition of the mind of Christ. Let that mind be in me; let it be in you; so the apostle wrote. It may be so; it will be so if we only let it. You cannot attain it by efforts of your own; it must be the production of another, and that other is God's Holy Spirit, who will work to this end in your heart and mind if there is no opposition of self, if there is no grief to Him, no hindrance of His influence. He came down to do this; and the apostle's plea was, Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.

When we read the whole passage we are perhaps staggered at the vastness of its scope and its terms. It is not an uncommon thing for this section of scripture to be read publicly, but there are many who in reading seem afraid to take the whole of verse five as it stands, and they commence their reading in the middle of it. They begin at “Christ Jesus”; because involuntarily there comes up in their hearts this thought, “Oh, but this can never be true of me; I am reading about Christ Jesus; this is about Him, and about what He did; it cannot become true of me; and therefore I will only read what is true about Him. It is too much to expect that the same mind which was in Christ Jesus should be in me also.”

But ought we not to read the scriptures as they stand? If that mind be not in me, it is because I will not let it be there. My tiny heart has been filled with another occupant, instead of with Christ, shedding abroad there His lowly mind by His indwelling. Too often, alas, self is there, my own way, my business, my desire for self-aggrandisement; and there is therefore no room in my heart for my Master and myself. There is room for one, but not for two masters. Which shall it be?

The apostle, however, says, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; and to enforce this great exhortation he uses three words concerning the inscrutable person of our Lord Jesus Christ, words which we may read, and which we do well to read, and ponder again and again. There is nothing more sacred, more precious in the whole world than the revealed truth concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not ours to walk with Him in Galilee; it is not ours to hear His discourses in Jerusalem; but it is ours to read of Him in word's written by God's Holy Spirit which are absolutely true and adequate, which must not be exceeded, which we dare not diminish, words about the grace and glory of our beloved, our blessed Lord. There is no pen but that of God's Holy Spirit which could write suitable and accurate words concerning our Lord Jesus Christ; and, beloved friends, we have an inestimably holy and valuable treasure in the words which we possess, the words concerning the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The words are given us in the scripture to awaken our worship rather than to add to our information. I agree that they are simple, that they are easy to read; only we make the most tremendous mistake if we suppose that because they are easy words we can necessarily understand them. The words of inspiration are true, and clear and distinct; and these words set out for our faith the blessed person of our Lord Jesus, Christ, God manifest in flesh. Therefore on such a theme we cannot, we should not, trust ourselves to use any words concerning our Lord Jesus Christ that do not exactly coincide with what the Spirit of God has already written. All the failures and errors of doctrine that bestrew the devious paths of Christendom since the days of the apostles are due simply to the efforts of men to define and limit what is indefinable and illimitable about the Lord Jesus, Christ. What human tongue is competent to tell His praises and His worth, and what mind could probe the mystery of His Person? Let us receive the words of Holy Scripture concerning Christ Jesus just as they are written, and hold them fast exactly as the Spirit of God has given them to guide our poor wandering minds into eternal truth, and our renewed hearts into reverent worship.

No Selfish Ambition in Christ Jesus

We ought not to inquire curiously beyond what is written into the mystery concerning the Word who became flesh and dwelt below. But here we have a revelation concerning Christ Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant.” He was God in all the fulness of His person and Godhead, and the wonder was that Christ Jesus was here as God in this world, but here without any effort or desire to assert the rights of His own eternal Person as the Son of God. What a perfect contrast with the first man who was in the world!

The first man was Adam, the second man the Lord from heaven. He was Lord of all; yet He came in true humility. The first man was not content with his estate in this world. Adam was the vicegerent of God in the earth, so that all creatures were subject to him. He was supreme in this world, but there came into his heart, through the instigation of the evil one, the desire to be something that he was not. He coveted what apart from disobedience was out of his reach. the serpent's suggestion, he desired to eat the forbidden fruit that he might become as God, knowing good and evil. Adam thus became ambitious to rise and, as he thought, to better himself. It was a false thought, but there was the thought in him. He looked abroad in Eden, and everything that he surveyed was his, with one exception. There was just one tree upon which a ban rested, and his soul, the appetite within him, desired above all things to have the fruit of that tree, and to become, as he thought, something better than God had made him.

This was the secret of Adam's downfall; and the desire for something God has withheld has been the corrupting influence in the hearts of men from that day to this. Men are not content to take what God has given them, to forego what He has forbidden them, to rejoice in what He bestows, and to thank Him even for what He does not give them.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ was in this world. He was in the essential nature of His being in the form of God. He was God manifest in flesh, come to declare the Father, but being in this world He was content to be just a man, and in man's form, dependent upon every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. As such He was exposed to the great temptation of the forty days. Satan came to Him as He hungered, and said, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Christ Jesus was God; He was the Son of God, as Satan knew; He had the power to provide Himself with bread from stones, but He had taken the place of a dependent man; He did not think it a prize to be grasped at to be equal with God as He was there in the wilderness. He said, “Man doth not live by bread alone.” He was unmoved by Satan's subtle suggestion, “If Thou be the Son of God.” He did not deny that He was God, but showed that His meat was to do the will of His Father. He was the Son of God, but He was in the wilderness as a man, and being in the form of man He decided to remain obedient to God, subservient to the will of Him that sent Him. Around Him there was a most striking contrast with the beauty of Eden, blooming in its purity, as it came fresh from the hands of the Creator. Adam was surrounded by a glorious garden, and had everything that eye and heart could desire. But the Lord Jesus Christ was forty days in the wilderness with the ravenous beasts.

There it was that the temptation came to Him, and there in the desert the blessed Master resisted the evil one and conquered. He was obedient to His Father's will; He did not strive after that equality with God which was His intrinsically, but which He did not use.

Such was the mind in Christ Jesus, and that display by itself gives us guidance for our application of it in our daily life. We are each situated differently in this world, and is it that we are ambitious to rise out of our present circumstances, ambitious to make our way, ambitious to overcome those things which seem to impede our progress, and to drag us down, and yet which must be the appointment of God? Are we chafing at His hand? If so, how contrary we are to Him who was the Son of God. We with our sluggish minds cannot perhaps perceive the exceeding beauty and value to God of that life of Christ. If we could only picture for a moment God the Father looking down upon the millions of mankind who have all erred from Him, walking each in their own way, given up to seeking their own pleasure, pursuing the occupations of this world to the exclusion of the glory of Him who is above, and then for Him to see one Man in the wilderness thoroughly obedient to the will of Him who sent Him! The Father found His delight in the Son. The mind in Christ Jesus was beautiful and glorious to the eyes of God. The record of it is given for our profit. It is here for our emulation, as our example. Away with all petty strife and vain glory! Let us consider Him who was obedient, who resisted the subtle temptations of the evil one to exalt Himself above the lowly station that He had taken in order to do the will of Him that sent Him.

The Self-emptied Servant

Christ Jesus was “in the form of God” and yet subservient to Him in the purposes of eternity (Heb. 10:7), and in the acts of time. He thought it not robbery, as Satan did, to be equal with God, “but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant.” Often the first phrase is translated, “He emptied Himself.” The Lord Himself, though the Creator and Upholder of all things, humbled Himself or emptied Himself. You will observe that this was the action of Christ Jesus Himself. He voluntarily — of His own will — emptied Himself. When here He was never other than the Son of God, yet all the way through His pathway of service He trod it as a man. He laid aside His glory, and He came to serve thus.

I know no more beautiful picture of Christ Jesus, the self-emptied Servant, than the one which we have in the thirteenth chapter of John. On that night in which the Lord Jesus was betrayed He was with His disciples at the passover supper. We are told, He specially desired to eat the passover with them before He suffered. He had been with the apostles for a considerable period. For three years they beheld His meekness; they had seen His gracious demeanour; they knew that He was meek and lowly in heart; and they, as His disciples, surely knew, for He had so taught them, that they must be in character as their Master. But there at that table, keeping the feast, as they were for the last time with their blessed Lord, they strangely forgot the lowliness and obedience of our Lord and their Lord as a man. For what were they doing? They were discussing with themselves who should, be the greatest. Would it be Peter or James or John? There was a spirit of ambition working in their hearts, with, as it were, the shadow of the cross itself athwart the room where they were. They were quarrelling amongst themselves as to who should be greatest in the very presence of this lowly Servant come from God, the self-emptied Son, about to take the lowest step of humiliation.

Can we do other, as we read John's record, than wonder and worship at the meekness of the Master, humbling Himself in His lowly service of love? In the omniscience which He possessed, knowing that He came into the world from the Father and that He was now going back to the Father, the Lord Jesus, knowing all that soon must be accomplished, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments. He took a towel and girded Himself, and said in deeds before them all, I am your servant. He took a basin with water and knelt at their feet. He cleansed their feet and, dried them with the towel. He passed in this humble service from one to another. What must have been in the hearts of the apostles as they saw their Master doing what the menials of the household did! Can we think calmly tonight of the Lord of glory bowing in humble service at the feet of Peter, the man who was about to deny Him, of James and John, and of Judas Iscariot about to betray Him?

Here, as always, Christ Jesus served in dependence, upon and in conformity with, the will of Him who sent Him. It was as if He said, “My Father sent Me among these persons who do not understand Me even now; I have been some long time with them, and yet they know Me not; I will serve them with the basin and the towel; I will show them what true service is.” The Lord then showed that the man who seeks to serve God must be ready to go down beneath the lowest of mankind, down to serve a traitor, a son of perdition, an emissary of the devil himself.

The disciples did not understand Christ Jesus, so He humbled Himself that they might learn humility. It was to show His humility, that He emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant, and bent down to wash the feet of the traitor apostle. He said, “Know ye what I have done to you? if I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet.” Have we the grace to do it? It must be grace in us to enable us to go down; for if we are to wash the feet of others we must go down beneath them. We must get below them; we must not stand upon a pedestal and elevate ourselves. No, we must bow in the presence of our brethren, and catch thus the spirit of our Master and our Lord if we are to serve our brethren in the mind of Christ Jesus. There should be no self in the service of Christ.

Christ Jesus in the Likeness of Men

Let us now come back to our chapter. The apostle passes on: “He took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” No one I hope will misunderstand me because the illustration of the feet-washing which I have just given is not historical of the Incarnation. I mean that when we read that the Lord took upon Him the form of a servant, the direct reference is to His entrance into this world. He came to men and was not seen in the form of God, which is invisible and unapproachable, but He was made flesh.

That incident in the upper room illustrates what the Lord understood by service to Him that sent Him. Service for God meant to Christ Jesus service to man, and indeed, service to the worst of men for God's sake.

But Christ Jesus was made in the likeness of men; God has servants on high; the angels are His heavenly servants, strong and mighty and intelligent to do His behests, to go at His bidding from one end of the universe to the other. Those mighty and countless inhabitants of heaven serve their Maker, but the Lord Jesus Christ was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. He was made in the likeness of men. He was in this world in fashion as a man. If the Lord Jesus had come as an angel He would have come in the likeness of one who had not sinned, but He came in the likeness of men, so that angels looking upon Him might look upon one who was in the likeness of men, but who knew no sin, as all else did.

Christ Jesus was in the likeness of sinful flesh, for He was in the world as a man, though Himself knowing no sin. And being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world so quietly, so silently, that the great mass of mankind was unaware of that unparalleled event. Christ Jesus was born in the manger at Bethlehem in the stillness of night, coming thus in the way of lowliness. The angels knew, but so few on earth. The lowly and poverty-stricken maiden in Galilee was chosen as the medium through whom the Son of God should be born among men. It was a humble way for the Son of God to come into His own world. He came, not as He will come by and by, not as a flash of lightning, not in the full blaze of His glory so that every eye will see Him, but He entered in that lowly way so that pious men and women could look upon Him as the Infant of Bethlehem. He did not obtrude Himself upon man's notice. He was found punctually at the time and at the place indicated beforehand in the scriptures, but He was there in the way of humility and lowliness.

We find the Incarnation itself has its lessons. The apostle uses it in order to impress upon us what we are so slow to emulate, to show us the great value of humbleness of mind in the presence of God. Christ Jesus came as a babe! He was welcomed not by the great ones of the Jews, but by Simeon and Anna who were waiting in obscurity for the fulfilment of God's promise concerning the Messiah.

We might profitably go through the whole history of our Lord Jesus Christ, and mark His continuous self-effacement. Never would He put Himself first. He humbled Himself, that is, I take it, He set Himself and His own inclinations on one side altogether. He considered not what might be most pleasing to Himself, but what was the will of Him who sent Him. He said to His disciples, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work.”

The Humbling Death of the Cross

But this word of God goes further to say that Christ Jesus humbled Himself, and became obedient as far as death, even the death of the cross. There was no need for the Lord Jesus Christ to die. With us death is a necessity, for “the wages of sin is death.” The Lord Jesus Christ was the pure, the holy One, who was apart from the domination and taint of sin and death, but yet His pathway of obedience led to death, for “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.”

To the Jewish mind the death of the pious was a strange, unaccountable thing, and in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ it was most strange. The first commandment with promise to him who honoured his father and his mother was that his days should be long in the land. Who was there in Nazareth or in all the world who was uniformly subject to parents as the Lord Jesus Christ was? He was a model to all, perfect in every way and in everything, but to Him long life was not granted. He was cut off in the midst of His days, but not for Himself. It was for others. It was that the great purpose of God to save might be accomplished. In order that men might not die, He was obedient unto death.

But the great point here is that our Lord Jesus Christ, from the moment of the manger to the moment of the cross, displayed an unvarying and unbroken path of perfect obedience to His Father and God. This fact of obedience is what we need to lay hold of, we who are so ready to display opposition to those who oppose us.

We ought to think of Him who would, not strive nor cry nor lift up His voice in the streets. When He was reviled, He reviled not again, but committed Himself to Him who judges rightly. He spoke no angry word; no remonstrance escaped His lips. Smitten, mocked, but never a word. Like a lamb, like a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

Not that the Lord Jesus could not speak, but He would not speak, because the path of obedience would be marred by one murmuring word. He was absolutely passive to the will of God, and He is thus the pattern for you and the pattern for me.

Christ Jesus became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The cross was ever before Him. God looked upon Him extended there as the Obedient One in whom He found all His delight. There were raucous voices that cried, Away with Him, crucify Him, but the Lord Jesus did not hear those harsh cries. He heard only the voice that spake from heaven. Day by day, morning by morning, His ear had been opened habitually to hear as the Obedient Servant, and it was to that voice He listened, even at Calvary, and that voice He obeyed. And when they nailed Him to the tree He said in that perfect communion He ever had with His Father, Oh, My Father, forgive them; they know not what they do; they are accomplishing Thy purpose concerning Me; it is Thy will that I should be extended upon the cross of cursing; they are doing Thy will; oh, My Father, forgive them. Was not this death Thy gracious purpose before the worlds were made? And so the obedience of Christ was perfect to the end, to death, and to the death on the cross.

Beloved friends, we have something stupendous before us, in the world: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We know how we feel when an unkind word is spoken to us; we know how we feel when someone denies us our rights; when men trample upon us, when they will not do us justice; we know how our spirits are ruffled at such times, do we not? But it was never so with the Son of God's love. The apostle says, let His mind be in you. Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath; do not quarrel among yourselves; do not let your angry feelings rise; think of the Master; think of His humble obedience; and let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Universal Homage to Christ Jesus

After all, what happened in the sequel? There was the cross most truly, and there was the degradation of that shameful death. The Lord suffered at the cross a most humiliating death; but the story of His love does not end at that point. That was the close of the first chapter of the biography of Christ Jesus; that was the chapter concerning Him on earth. But we open the second chapter when we read the clauses that follow. There we look into heaven and the future. We know that the One whom men despised and dishonoured, God has highly exalted. God has given Him the name which is above every name.

And so our hearts leap from Golgotha to the glory, for there we see Him. We see Christ Jesus crowned with glory and honour, possessing the name which is above every name. And we look forward still for the further glories to follow. God the Father has decreed it. In the light of this passage we look onward to the time that is coming when millions and millions of living men, and the many millions more who now lie in the dust of the earth will all unite in homage to Him who was crucified but who is now glorified. They shall all bow the knee to Him whom God has exalted, and the homage they render to the obedient Son shall be to the glory of God the Father.

What motive carried the Lord Jesus Christ onward from day to day? “I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is called today, for the night cometh when no man can work.” In the little day that our Lord Jesus Christ lived here in this world, how full every moment was of service to the Father! He took the place of obedience for the glory of God the Father, and as He looked back to survey His earthly life He could say, “I have glorified Thee upon the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” The Father knew then the perfection of the Son's obedience, and the Father has recorded here for our adoration that He has not forgotten what is in consequence due to His beloved Son. He has decreed that as men's voices cried out for the crucifixion of His obedient Son, so their knees shall bow to Him and their tongues confess Him Lord.

And so it will be, for this and every word of God must be fulfilled. But we must not forget our present responsibility. It is ours to exhibit the mind of Christ now in this world; and whatever achievements we may make today in this respect will not help us for tomorrow. The man who has displayed the mind of Christ today and who has found the secret of suppressing himself and of allowing the mind of Christ to shine in his ways, will have the same difficult path before him tomorrow. I say “difficult,” because “ourselves” are ever with us, and until we know how to put them where God has put them we shall find they stand in our way and prevent the mind of Christ shining in us and out of us.

Oh, for grace to set forth more perfectly these virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is comparatively easy perhaps to do the strong things, the things which give a display in us of knowledge and of power, but when the spiritual life means just being quiescent to the divine will, just accepting what God arranges for us day by day, then it often is that our wills chafe against obedience, and instead of the mind of Christ Jesus the mind of self displays itself.

May God give us grace to take home these words to ourselves, and may we find in the Person and self-emptying service of our Lord Jesus Christ for God, something that is of power and value and influence in our own ways and testimonies for Him.