Christ's Humiliation and Exaltation
Philippians 2:7
But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

(text and following): —


1. A cause there is. God ever exalts for a cause. Here on earth it is otherwise. Some men as Shebna, Haman, Sanballat, are exalted no man knows wherefor.

2. For what cause? His humility. Of all causes not for that, says the world. The word was not in the list of heathen virtues. Yet this last virtue is the ground of Christ exulting.

(1) "He humbled" — so great a person. For one of mean estate to be humble is no great praise, it were a fault were he not; but for a king, nay the King of kings to show this great humility, is a cause indeed.

(2) "Himself." Of His own accord. One may be humbled and not humble. Pharaoh was humbled by His ten plagues. Simon was compelled to humble his neck under the Cross. But here is true humility.

(3) It was not Absalom's humility, in show, his heart being full of pride and rebellion. And yet it is a glory for humility that even proud men take a pride to shroud themselves in her mantle. But it is not humble courtesy, but humble obedience here.

(4) But there is an obedience which cometh from natural reason; but some other there be wherein there is no other reason but the will of a lawful superior. All look to the former, very few to the latter; but even so obeyed Christ.

(5) The extent of our obedience is a matter considerable. Obedience in some petty matter is little worth. How far obedient? Until what? Unto humanity had been enough, to servitude were more. But Christ's obedience was unto —

(a) Death. That staggers the best of us. We love obedience in a whole skin. And why should obedience come to that? Death is the wages of sin. Obedient and yet put to death? Even so; rather than lose His obedience He lost His life.

(b) The worst death. Nay, if He must die, let Him die a honest fair death. Not so.

II. "GOD HATH HIGHLY EXALTED HIM." This exaltation is —

1. Personal.

(1) From whence. From death. His humiliation had been to the ground, into the lowest parts of it; His exaltation was from thence.

(2) Whither. From death to life, from shame to glory, from the form of a servant to the dignity of a sovereign. Not to Lazarus' life again, but to life immortal; from shame to the glory of the Father which shall never fade, as all here shall.

2. The exaltation of His name, the amends for the Cross. Without a name what is exalting? Things that are exalted seem not to be so until their name go abroad in the world. And when men are so high that they cannot get higher there is no way to exalt them but to dilate their names, which every noble generous spirit had rather have than any dignity. How will they jeopard dignity and even life but to leave a glorious name behind them. But what name was given here? "the name of Jesus."(1) Of this giving three doubts arise.

(a) How given. Him and others had it also (Hebrews 4:8; Haggai 1:1). They had it of men, He of God. All these Jesuses had need of and were glad "to lay hold of the skirts" of this Jesus to be saved by Him.

(b) He had it before. True, but by a kind of anticipation, for it never had its perfect verification till after the crucifixion.

(c) But if given Him ἐχαρίσατο "of grace," where is the merit then? Answer. That which is due may be cheerfully parted with as though it were a gift. But this grace is not the grace of adoption, but that of union.

(2) How is this name above all names.

(a) To Him. It is esteemed more than any other title of Deity by Him; because His glory is in it joined to our safety.

(b) To us. For it is the only name by which we can be saved. With this name there is comfort in the name of God; without it none at all.

3. "That at the name of Jesus," etc. God, though He have so exalted it, yet reckons it not exalted until we exalt it too. So we are to esteem it above every name, and to show our esteem by bowing with the knee and confessing with the tongue.

(1) These are outward acts: so the exalting of the soul is not enough. Our body is to afford her part, and not the upper parts, the tongue in the head, but also the lower, the knee in the leg.

(2) "Every knee" —

(a) "Shall bow," for what better way to exalt Him than by our humility, who for His humility was exalted. This honour is awarded Christ for the death of the Cross; shall we, then, rob Him of it? And He will not have us worship Him like elephants, as if we had no joints in our knees; He will have more honour of men than of pillars in the Church.

(b) Bow to His name. His person is out of sight, but His name is left behind that we may do reverence to it. But why to this name rather than to that of Christ? Christ cannot be the name of God, for God cannot be anointed. Christ was anointed that He might be Jesus — Saviour. But it is not to the syllables of the name that we are to bow. The name is not the sound but the sense — Him who is named. Of course a superstitious use has been made of this act; so there has of hearing sermons. Shall we therefore abandon hearing as well as kneeling? No! Remove the superstition and retain both. It is well to drive away superstition, but it will be well not to drive away reverence with it.

(3) He farther requires somewhat from the tongue. And reason: that member of all others is our glory (Psalm 57:8), our peculiarity above the beasts; they will be taught to bow, we have tongues to do something more than they. Besides the knee is only dumb acknowledgment, but a vocal confession utters our mind plainly, and this He calls ἐξομολόγησις. Three things are in it. λόγος we must say somewhat; ὀμοῦ, do it together, not some speak and others keep mute; εξ, speak out, not whisper. And it was the praise of the primitive Church that they did it jointly and aloud; that their Amen, as saith, was like a clap of thunder, and their Hallelujah as the roaring of the sea.

(b) Why the knee first — because we thereby put ourselves in mind of due regard to Him in reverence, and are therefore the fitter to speak of and to Him with respect.

(c) Every knee and tongue. They in heaven "cast down their crowns and fall down" and confess Him singing (Revelation 4:10); they under the earth are thrown down and made His footstool (Psalm 110:1); they on earth, as in the midst, partake of both. The better sort get to their knees gladly, and cheerfully confess Him. Infidels and Christians little better are forced to "fall backward," and in the end to cry "Vicisti Galilaee," though they guard their tongues when they have done.

(d) See our lot. Exalted He shall be with our wills or without them. Either fall on our knees now, or be cast on our faces then; either confess Him with saints and angels, or with devils and damned spirits.

(e) Every tongue shall do this, i.e., every speech and dialect in the world. Where are they, then, who deny any tongue the faculty here granted, or bar any of them the duty here enjoined, that lock up the public confession in some one tongue or two?

4. But though thus many tongues, one confession that "Jesus Christ is Lord."(1) Lord whereof? (Matthew 16:19; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 20:2-3).

(2) No man can confess this "but by the Holy Ghost."(3) Confess what? that Jesus is a Lord to save (Matthew 14:30), and a Lord to serve (Acts 9:6). The first we like well, but the latter not so (Luke 6:46).

5. "To the glory of the Father," whose great glory it is that His Son is Lord of such servants, that men shall say, "see what servants He hath." How full of reverence to His name! How free and forward to do His will.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

WEB: but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.

Christ Degraded
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