Philippians 2:6


During the blitz, (the bombing of London by the German Air Force between September 1940 and May 1941), the people of London suffered unimaginable hardship. I can't imagine the horror of having bombs reigning down on you night after night, destroying all types of buildings with thousands of people being injured or killed. In the morning, after the bombing ceased, rescuers would search the rubble for any survivors. It was a gruesome, difficult and dangerous job. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister at the time. One of the interesting and heroic things about Churchill was that sometimes, when the bombing ended, he would emerge from his bunker under 10 Downing Street and join the rescuers in searching for survivors. Can you imagine a Londoner being trapped in the rubble and having someone pull you out and finding that the person rescuing you was it was none other than Prime Minister, Winston Churchill? It was incredible that he would do that—not only from the physical hardship of it, but of the danger involved. Yet he did not think he was too important or too valuable to stoop to join in the rescue. His actions were incredible.

As great as Churchill's actions were—they were nothing compared to our Lord stooping to save us. As we approach this Christmas season it's important for us to meditate on our Savior's work on our behalf. When we think of the wonderful story of a baby being born in the manger, it's important that we know exactly who came to save us. Our text is incredible. It says of Jesus, (Philippians 2:6–7)

"Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness."

The incarnation is not only one of the greatest events in the history of the earth, but it is one of the greatest events in the history of heaven.

What happened when Jesus was born in Bethlehem? The first thing that we should understand is that

God came to earth.

The one who was born in a manger was none other than Jesus Christ, One who was equal to God. In our way our text corresponds to Matthew 1:23 which says,

" 'The virgin will be with child
and will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel'
—which means,
God with us."

God with us. Jesus is fully and completely God. It is of the utmost importance that we realize this. The first part of our text says, (Philippians 2:6, HCSB)

"who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used
for His own advantage."

The phrase 'form of God' is more literal than the NIV's translation. The first word, 'form' means, ("μορφή," BDAG, 659)

"form, outward appearance, shape"



Donald Macleod says that it, (A Faith to Live By, p. 140)

"refers to visibility; what an observer sees."



John Calvin writes, (Commentary)

"The form of God means here his majesty. For as a man is known by the appearance of his form, so the majesty, which shines forth in God, is his figure.""Christ, then, before the creation of the world, was in the form of God, because from the beginning he had his glory with the Father…"



In John 17:5 Jesus spoke about this. He prayed to the Father and said,

"And now, Father,
glorify me in your presence
with the glory I had with you
before the world began."

Donald Macleod says that 'form of God', (A Faith to Live By, p. 140)

"it means that Christ possessed the image of God and the likeness of God and the glory of God, everything that made God God; everything that made the angels adore Him. He had the splendor of God."



When Jesus was transfigured before James, Peter and John on the Mount of Transfiguration they got a small glimpse into this glory. They saw something of the 'form of God' there. It was evident that Jesus was God.

That this phrase means that Jesus is God is clear from two things in the context.

First, the phrase, 'in the form of God'
corresponds with the following phrase, 'equality with God'. Moisés Silva writes, (Philippians, BECNT; 2d; p. 101)

"Käsemann… was absolutely right in emphasizing that being 'in the form of God' is equivalent to being 'equal with God.'"



Secondly, what is said about Jesus in verse 6 is contrasted with two phrases in verse 7, 'form of a slave' and 'likeness of men'. These contrasts also point to Jesus' divinity.

Jesus was not a slave—just the opposite. He was the king of glory. Psalm 24 shows us this. It says, (verses 8–10)

"Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads,
O you gates; lift them up,
you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he,
this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory."

Jesus is the One who created everything. Only God could do that. Only God could be head over everything. As Colossians 1:16–18 says,

"For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities;
all things were created
by him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body,
the church;
he is the beginning and
the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything
he might have the supremacy."

But, wonder of wonder, the Lord of Glory became our servant. As Jesus said in Mark 10:45,

"For even the Son of Man
did not come to be served,
but to serve,
and to give his life
as a ransom for many."

There could be no greater contrast. God Himself came down to save us. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says,

"For you know the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich,
yet for your sakes he became poor,
so that you through his poverty
might become rich."

The other contrast is that He took on the likeness of men. John Frame notes, (Systematic Theology, p. 883)

"When Jesus became man, he underwent a major change."



He didn't cease to be God. As God He didn't change. As Herman Bavinck wrote, (Our Reasonable Faith, p. 324)

"even when He became what He was not, He remained what He was, the Only-Begotten of the Father."



But there was something new, something never seen before. He was found in likeness of man. He was and is the God-man. John Murray writes, (Collected Writings, Vol. 2, p. 132)

"The incarnation means that he who never began to be in his specific identity as Son of God, began to be what he eternally was not."



The contrast could not be greater. The eternal Son of God became a man. The baby that was born was none other than God Himself, in human form. This was predicted in Isaiah 9:6–7 which describes the baby in terms of deity. It says,

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government
will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government
and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this."

Jesus is God. Never doubt that When Doubting Thomas saw the risen Christ, he said, (John 20:28)

"My Lord and my God!"

The baby that was born in Bethlehem was God, the God-man.

What a wonder the incarnation is!

How amazing was the birth of Jesus. How could it be? How could God become man? It was so incredible. God was born in Bethlehem. John Murray writes, (p. 132)

"It is on the premises of his eternal identity as God, his eternal subsistence as the only-begotten Son, his creative activity at the beginning, and his continued activity in sustaining all created reality, that we can conceive the fact and meaning of the incarnation. The doctrine of the incarnation is vitiated if it is conceived of as the beginning to be of the person of Christ."



When we think of baby Jesus in the manager, it's important that we try to grasp the wonder of it. This is no ordinary baby, it's the birth of the God-man. God with us.

In a very real sense it's almost like words are inadequate to describe it in its fullness. Words that are contradictions of each other are some of the best words to illustrate it. Murray continues, (Collected Writings, Vol. 2, p. 132)

"We must appreciate the historic factuality and temporal occurrence of the incarnation and the sustained contrasts involved. The infinite became the finite, the eternal and supratemporal entered time and became subject to its conditions, the immutable became the mutable, the invisible came the visible, the Creator became the created, the sustainer of all became dependent, the Almighty infirm. All is summed up in the proposition, God became man."



Those contrasts are incredible and astounding. We struggle to grasp them. Murray continues, (p. 132)

"The thought of incarnation is stupendous, for it means the conjunction in one person of all that belongs to Godhead and all that belongs to manhood."



The fact that Jesus is God has great implications.

First,

It means that He could perfectly execute our salvation.

Who was qualified to save us? Only Jesus. Louis Berkhof writes, (Systematic Theology, p. 319)

"The necessity of His Godhead. In the divine plan of salvation it was absolutely essential that the Mediator should also be very God. This was necessary, in order that (1) He might bring a sacrifice of infinite value and render perfect obedience to the law of God; (2) He might bear the wrath of God redemptively, that is, so as to free others from the curse of the law; and (3) He might be able to apply the fruits of His accomplished work to those who accepted Him by faith. Man with his bankrupt life can neither pay the penalty of sin, nor render perfect obedience to God. He can bear the wrath of God and, except for the redeeming grace of God, will have to bear it eternally, but he cannot bear it so as to open a way of escape…"



John Calvin writes, (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Battles, 1; p. 464)

"Since our iniquities, like a cloud cast between us and him, had completely estranged us from the Kingdom of Heaven [cf. Isa. 59:2], no man, unless he belonged to God, could serve as the intermediary to restore peace. But who might reach to him? Any one of Adam's children? No, like their father, all of them were terrified at the sight of God [Gen. 3:8]. One of the angels? They also had need of a head, through whose bond they might cleave firmly and undividedly to their God [cf. Eph. 1:22; Col. 2:10]. What then? The situation would surely have been hopeless had the very majesty of God not descended to us, since it was not in our power to ascend to him. Hence, it was necessary for the Son of God to become for us 'Immanuel, that is, God with us' [Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23], and in such a way that his divinity and our human nature might by mutual connection grow together."



Jesus was the only One able to accomplish what was necessary for our salvation.

Consider,

who else but Jesus could defeat Satan?

Could angels? No. In themselves they don't have that power. Yes, Revelation 12:7–8 tells us about the great war in heaven,

"And there was war in heaven.
Michael and his angels fought
against the dragon,
and the dragon and
his angels fought back.
But he was not strong enough,
and they lost their place in heaven."

It was only by God's power they were able to be victorious? But one angel, could he save us? Jude 1:9 tells us,

"But even the archangel Michael,
when he was disputing
with the devil about the body of Moses,
did not dare to bring
a slanderous accusation against him,
but said,
'The Lord rebuke you!"

But Jesus, He was able to defeat Satan, thoroughly, completely, finally. On the cross, Jesus did defeat Satan. Colossians 2:15 says,

"And having disarmed
the powers and authorities,
he made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross."

Hebrews 2:14 says,

"Since the children have flesh and blood,
he too shared in their humanity
so that by his death he might destroy him
who holds the power of death—
that is, the devil"

Who else but Jesus could bring us to God?

John Calvin, (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1; Ford Lewis Battles; 466)

"For the same reason it was also imperative that he who was to become our Redeemer be true God and true man. It was his task to swallow up death. Who but the Life could do this? It was his task to conquer sin. Who but very Righteousness could do this? It was his task to rout the powers of world and air. Who but a power higher than world and air could do this? Now where does life or righteousness, or lordship and authority of heaven lie but with God alone? Therefore our most merciful God, when he willed that we be redeemed, made himself our Redeemer in the person of his only-begotten Son."



Calvin again, (Institutes of the Christian Religion,1; Battles;, p. 465)

"This will become even clearer if we call to mind that what the Mediator was to accomplish was no common thing. His task was so to restore us to God's grace as to make of the children of men, children of God; of the heirs of Gehenna, heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom. Who could have done this had not the selfsame Son of God become the Son of man, and had not so taken what was ours as to impart what was his to us, and to make what was his by nature ours by grace?"



Jesus could save us and did save us. Being God meant that He did His work for us perfectly. Nothing was omitted, nothing was half done, nothing was done inadequately. His work on our behalf was perfect in every detail. Perfect and complete. The work that the Father gave Him to do—He nailed it.

What a Savior you have in Jesus. What faith you ought to have in Him.

The baby born in a manger. God came to dwell among us. To live for us. To die for us. It is only though Him that salvation comes. Are you in Him? Go to Him. Only He can save you.