I am rather famous for my hatred of winter and cold weather. Snow is, to me, something that you really do want to see and experience once in your life, but beyond that, it is just annoying. You can’t play baseball in it or go cycling (at least not very well), so what good is it? And to be theological about it, let me ask you this: how much snow was in the Garden of Eden before sin came upon the scene?
But having said that, there is something nice about a snow day. You are locked in at home, away from the pressures and responsibilities of a regular day. The house is warm, the fridge is full (because you beat everyone else to Walmart and cleared the shelves), and there is not a lot to do but just enjoy being at home.
Then it stops snowing and that time has come to deal with the alleged “beauty” all over the ground, driveway, sidewalks, cars, etc. And in my case there is about 1,000 feet of beauty between me and the road. Ugh … can’t I just stay inside and let it melt away on its own?
I’ve never been to heaven … no … I won’t be writing a book on it or making a movie about what I saw. I did see someone who saw into heaven! My godly grandmother at the moment of her death — a lady who was about 90% blind in her latter years — sat up quickly in bed and looking off into the distance said, “It’s so beautiful.” And then she threw her arms out in front of her and said, “He’s coming for me!” And with that, she collapsed backward and breathed her last.
Heaven must be awesome! Even better than a snow day at home. So, if you’re there in heaven, why would you want to leave it and go to earth? That’s not much of a promotion in life circumstances. But that is what Jesus did, as we read in Philippians chapter 2 …
2:1 — Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
By any measure, there has never been a tougher assignment than to be in a perfect condition in heaven, but being sent to earth to be human. That’s bad enough. But to also give yourself to death, and not just any death, but the ultimate execution on the cross … and not for anything you’ve done wrong, but for what everyone else has done wrong!
Tough assignment. But Jesus “humbled himself” and took on the assignment.
And as always when looking at this passage, we recall that the purpose (contextually) of Paul writing this is not first and foremost to teach incarnational theology, as awesome as that is. But rather, this section on Christ’s humiliation is as an illustration #1 of all-time illustrations … to teach the extent of attitude we as God’s people should have toward one another in terms of serving others.
Caring about the interests of others is a tough assignment, but aren’t you glad we have the ultimate example of it in Jesus Christ?