Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
This little text from verse 6-11 tells us everything that has happened and everything that will, in light, from the point of view of Jesus. It speaks of Jesus’ priorities in obeying and glorifying God. It’s one of those texts like John 3:16, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes will have eternal life, and also the first confession, Jesus Christ is Lord from Romans (10:9). There is so much in these texts, but they need to be unpacked, explored even lived out; though to fully unpack and understand it would probably take a lifetime. So I’ll do my best in the next couple minutes.
Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus. This mind, this way of thinking, of understanding and of action and life, have this in you that we hear and was obviously in Christ Jesus. It’s more than just thought, it’s also action; Jesus didn’t just think about being humble and obedient, He acted on it and died on that cross for you, me and all people. God, through Paul, is telling you and me to let this insight and action be your insight and action; your new life. We’ve heard about the new thing that God is doing, that you and I are now, through baptism together with Jesus, dead to our old life of sin and risen to new life in Jesus (Isaiah 43:19; Romans 6:6-11). That God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). God is the one who brings us to Christ by the Holy Spirit and gives us this new way of trusting Him, these new thoughts, God’s way of thinking, the mind of Christ Jesus (John 6:44; ). To receive these gifts well and to hold on to this, not rejecting the Spirit is now that task of us who are saved.
But what does all that mean? It’s all very well to say, ‘be humble’ or ‘be obedient’ even to say, ‘hold to God’s thoughts’. In the day to day how should I do this, how can I be like Jesus? That old question, ‘what would Jesus do?’ Well, verse six, The Son of the Father, second person of the trinity, God from God, light from light, equal to the Father, a position of authority and power beyond what we can imagine, He does not see this as something to be grasped, to be prioritised. Rather the Son empties Himself and takes on being a servant, takes on flesh, becomes a man, and we all know how insignificant we feel when thinking on the problems of this world, when seeing the stars of a pitch-black night and when contemplating God’s love for you. Jesus did not care about the power of His position, but took the actions needed to help those around Him, and fortunately for us that’s everyone. So what about the different positions of power you hold, your relationships, in the family, at church, in the workforce, and also even if you just know about something more than others. All these different positions where you have some power, even if it isn’t absolute. Do you take pride in yourself, in the gifts God has given and try to keep the glory and praise to yourself? Do you take pride in being a good father, a good wife, a good participant at a BBQ, a smart cookie, even in your own humble attitude; or do you listen to God, using what He has given you for the benefit of those around you and to His Glory? Do you prioritise your pride and power instead of the benefit of others and the glory of God?
What is your priority, your focus in life? When we live in this world, going about our lives, we are surrounded even submerged in a way of life contrary to Jesus’ way. We are constantly taught that we need to prioritise and rely on ourselves, to be independent, to be confident and have high self-esteem, to take pride in ourselves and to compete with each other. We know about the ‘corporate ladder’ the desire to climb to the top, but in every other relationship and role we still need to struggle against our sinful, selfish inclinations to make it about us, prioritising ourselves. Instead we need to deny ourselves take up our cross, suffering, and follow Jesus as He did the same, even to humble ourselves becoming obedient to the point of death, to die to ourselves to our sinful desires and pride and live for others, for Christ and the glory of God (Matthew 16:24-26; Romans 6:6-11; Galatians 2:20).
This is a tall order, a high mark to aim for and I find that I myself often forget to even aim, and I miss the mark, we sin and we fail. To live and think as Christ lived and thought every day of our lives in the face of all these distractions, is a hard thing. But fortunately Christ Jesus did live that life for me, for you and me (Hebrews 2:14-18); Today is Palm Sunday when we remember His glorious entrance into Jerusalem as King, and we look forward, down to His humiliation, suffering and death on the cross and burial in the tomb. And past that to a glimpse of His exaltation in the resurrection and on to the ascension and the coming hope of His coming again to destroy sin, guilt, the devil and death and to renew all creation, you, me and all those other saints who have gone before risen from death, free from all our sin and evil, renewed and perfected in Jesus who has gone before, the author and perfector of our faith and our life. And so what is our priority, what do we look to first? To our own positions of power here on earth, or to thank and praise Jesus for all He has done for you, me and all people, to give glory and praise to the only one truly deserving, God Almighty. For He has saved you through Jesus, and will renew you and exalt you as Jesus has been resurrected and exalted. This Holy Week where we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus is where we see clearly God’s true work of salvation, and in baptism you are joined up with Jesus by His promise and word, humbled and emptied and dead with sin, then God’s sure promise that you will rise anew free from sin and death together with Jesus, exalted by God’s power to what is good and right, the glory of God.
And may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus until we stand with Him in glory, to the glory and prais of God our Father. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham