Advent: Jesus Came to Serve
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
“Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Read: Philippians 2:1-11, Mark 10:35-45
Jesus is our example of godly living. Paul tells us in no uncertain terms. One of the reasons Christ came to earth as a man was to exemplify a life that is fully in step with God’s commands, is guided by the Spirit of God, and humbly serves others. However, Philippians 2 reveals much more than a good example of living.
The beauty of Philippians 2:1-11 is that we are given a clear vision of Jesus. Working backward from verse 11, Paul makes some glorious assertions of who Christ is, what He has done, and what we need to be doing today. Paul begins chapter 2 with instruction for the believers in Philippi that is directly applicable to us. We are to be “in full accord and of one mind.” We are to walk in the Spirit, comfort one another, love one another, and encourage one another “in Christ” (Philippians 2:1-2). This requires us to count others as “more significant” than ourselves and to look “to the interests of others.” By ourselves, this is impossible. The mind of the flesh is tainted by sin. Without Christ, we are unable to see through the cloud of selfishness and pride known as the human heart. But, thanks be to God, He specializes in making all things new. The Lord Jesus is defined by love, holiness, righteousness, and the redemptive power to transform our hearts and minds.
Outline of Philippians 2 (working backward):
- 2:11 – Every tongue will confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord”
- 2:10 – Every knee will bow at the “name of Jesus”
- 2:9 – God has “highly exalted” Jesus and given Him “the name that is above every name”
- 2:8 – Jesus became human, and humbled Himself “to the point of death”
- 2:7 – Jesus “made himself nothing” and became a servant
- 2:6 – Jesus “did not count equality God with God a thing to be grasped”
- 2:6 – Jesus is God who became flesh to visit mankind. Jesus is God with us, Immanuel.
Many refer to the Kingdom of God as the “upside-down kingdom.” Our Lord, the eternal King of Kings, made Himself the servant of all to rescue His people and bring us back to Himself! “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life…” (Romans 5:10-11).
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
“Christ being fully God, possessing the very nature of God and being fully equal to God in every respect, did not thereby insist on holding onto all the privileges and benefits of his position of equality with God (the Father) and thereby refuse to accept coming as a man.” – Bruce Ware
- Think on the great distance that Jesus humbled Himself — and creating the universe by His Word from the throne of Heaven, to being born in the feeding trough of a small barn, in the humble town of Bethlehem. The very Word of God (John 1:1) held back His power, still remaining fully God, and required Himself to be taught how to read and write.
- Since Jesus Christ is Lord and humbled Himself deeply, how is God calling you to humble yourself and serve others?
- Serve someone in your church this week — in a practical way that meets a need they can’t.
- Serve someone in your neighborhood this week who you know doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Bake them some cookies or deliver a gift card to their front door. This is the perfect time of year to start new relationships that can create inroads to the Gospel.
Lord Jesus, you have completely humbled yourself through human life, birth, and death. I will never be able to fully grasp the depths of your love and grace for me. Use the truths of your incarnation to continually transform my heart and mind, and conform them by your Spirit. Teach me to love and serve others in the same way you’ve served me!
Family Discipleship Time
- What does this passage say about God? How did He humble Himself and serve us? (He is Lord, and God has highly exalted Him. He became human, to die on the cross for us.)
- Since Jesus humbled Himself to become a baby, how does the Bible tell us to humble ourselves? What does this passage say about ways we can love others? (Encourage and love one another. Be unified as Christians, under the joy of Christ. Don’t compete with one another in pride, but think of others as more important than ourselves.)
- How can I love others perfectly when it seems so much easier to think about myself? (Jesus, by His grace, can change our hearts and give us a new love for others.)
- Kids song – “Totally God, Totally Man” by Sovereign Grace Music
- Kids song – “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9-11) by Philip & Jessica Morlan
- Spoken Word Video – “God With Us” by Odd Thomas
Free Advent Bible Study (2023)
Let’s stand back and marvel at God’s grace and sovereignty, and focus on God this Christmas. May we join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
Join this 25-day Advent journey as we worship Christ and celebrate his coming.
John Ragon is Snowbird’s website manager. He lives in Western NC with his wife and six amazing kids, and began serving at Snowbird in 2009 after graduating from Union University.
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