Obedient to the Point of Death
Paul continued writing about the humility of Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:8 - "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." Not only did Jesus humble Himself by leaving the glory of heaven to come to this earth as a man, but He further humbled Himself by dying. And the death He suffered on a cross wasn't just any death. It was brutal and full of excruciating pain and anguish. He endured it, however, because of love--His love for the zenith of His physical creation, mankind. The death He embraced made a way possible for humanity to have redemption and forgiveness from their transgressions. He died as a willing slave to the Father's will. He molded and shaped His will to conform to that of His Father's, which is manifested in Matthew 26:39, where He prayed - "Not My will, but Yours be done." Jesus lived and died to do the Father's bidding. He would obey always and at any cost--even by dying on a cross. What a marvelous example for us! "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8).

"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" (Phil. 2:9-11). Because of Jesus' humility and obedience, God did two things for Him. First, He highly exalted Jesus by raising Him from the dead and restoring Him to His former heavenly glory (cf. John 17:5; Acts 2:33). Second, He gave Him "the name which is above every name." What name is that, you ask? Some think it is the name "Lord" (cf. Acts 2:36). Others question if Paul was referring to a specific name or rather the authority given to Jesus (cf. Matt. 28:18).

In either case, Paul's point is unchanged. Because of what God did for Jesus, every knee should bow! Although there are two other passages in the Bible with similar wording (cf. Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11), the meaning here is somewhat different. These other two passages set forth the truth that at the final judgment every knee will bow before Almighty God. The faithful and the unfaithful will bow. The believer and the unbeliever will bow. The saint and the infidel will bow. All will submit--one way or another--to God and His glory!

Now, that being said, I don't believe that these specific verses in Philippians are declaring what will happen at the judgment. These verses teach that every knee should bow right now because of what Jesus did out of humility and obedience! He has been exalted and given all authority! Every knee should bow now! The angels in heaven should bow, humans on earth should bow, and those disembodied spirits "under the earth" should bow. However, just because every knee should bow doesn't mean that everyone will. In fact, very few will bow in this life before the Lord in the type of humility and obedience that Jesus manifested and expects.

We must never forget that God has promised to exalt those who humble themselves before Him. As James 4:10 teaches - "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." Consider also Luke 14:11 - "...he who humbles himself will be exalted." If we will humble ourselves and obey the Lord, then the Father will be glorified and He will exalt us (in the ultimate sense at the general resurrection)!

Let us conclude this lesson with two questions to reflect upon. (1) If you are a New Testament Christian, are you working to develop the mind of Christ (i.e., an attitude of humility and obedience)? (2) If you have not yet bowed down to the Lord in submissive obedience, what are you waiting for? No one can be saved without submitting to the Lord in obedience (cf. Heb. 5:9).

We will continue this study tomorrow.