Short Meditations for Easter on the Cross: 23. Obedience
Phil 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
We have been looking at ourselves, at how the Cross impacts us in our lives today. We’ve considered the physical act of crucifixion, the event, and we’ve gone on to consider its significance and meaning, but let’s go back and consider Jesus himself, what he was doing. There are so many aspects of this whole thing to consider and Jesus is central to it all, an example for us to follow, a wonder for us to worship.
Our verse above is part of what many consider a summary paragraph of the work of Christ, or maybe even one of those sayings the early church used to teach the basics of the faith, a saying that runs from verse 6 to 11. To catch the wonder of this verse we need to also consider the verses before it: “Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing.” There it is, the glorious Son of God who left heaven (see all of Jesus’ references in John 6 to coming down) and put aside his glory to live as a human being. Thus, when we come to our verse 8 above we now see the significance, the importance, the thrust of this words, “being found in appearance as a man”.
To carry the sins of the world, and to take the punishment that would satisfy Justice, the Son of God would have to do it all in human form. Consider the significance of that. That punishment would be meted out to a human body but in that human body he not only suffered the pain and anguish of the experience of execution on a cross, it also meant he received and took the total rejection and abandonment of the world and in so doing, for a moment, maybe longer, suffered a terrible sense of separation from the Father in heaven, observed in the terrible cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).
No, if we believe in the fact of Jesus taking the punishment for our sins, that punishment is far greater that merely the physical agony, as terrible as that was. To do this the glorious Son of God had to leave the side of his Father in heaven and put aside all his glory and come in human form and in that form take the anguish and pain of both the act of crucifixion and the separation of the Father.
Now, and perhaps only now, can we see the significance of the other words of that verse, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Everything about this would scream against him doing this. No wonder he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me,” as he anguished, but still concluded, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” What followed was total obedience to the will of God, preplanned by the Godhead. Hallelujah!