Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
~ Philippians 2:8
This memory verse follows a previous memory verse (#21, Philippians 2:6-7) and really forms part of a single theme. We are adding verse 8 because there are a fair number of Christians who do not understand what the Bible says about the subordination of Christ to the Father. It might not be an important issue for salvation or practical Christian living — Christ is not going to abandon us simply because we get some point of theology wrong or misstate some abstruse concept in our prayers — but the subject is treated in the Bible and is a legitimate item of Bible study.
Jesus was a man, and He had the limitations of a man. He did not have the absolute knowledge, the “omniscience,” of God the Father while He was alive. We know this for certain, because He told his disciples specifically that He did not know something: the time of the Second Coming. Matthew 24:36.
We might glean from reading through the Gospels, together with Paul’s quote, that He enjoyed both divine knowledge and divine power only when, and to the degree that, the Father accorded such knowledge and power to Him. Certainly, while in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father that He might be spared the ordeal of the crucifixion. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42.)
Verse 8 of Philippians Chapter 2 tells us that His limitations lasted until His death on the cross. He was obedient to the degree of torture and death; but also, he was humbled and obedient to the Father until His death, i.e., at long as His body lived. He came into a Kingdom by His ascension, being replaced on earth by a spirit, which we call the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s subordination to the Father, however, did not cease. It remains in effect, and surprisingly, it is possible that He will remain subordinate until some undetermined time after the end of this age, i.e., after all the prophesies of the Bible have been fulfilled. Consider the following rather difficult passage: “When all things are subjected to [Christ], then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28)
Enough of mind-bending theology, for these matters are really “above our pay grade.” Seeking to fully understand God with our minds is ultimately fruitless. We keep in mind, first off, that Christ is God, He was with the Father at the creation (John 1:1-2), and He is our Lord and our King, as well as our Savior. But this verse highlights a human trait of Christ, perfect in Him and imperfect in us. Like us, he faced the human temptation of willfulness, a derivative of pride. He understands our temptation, because He felt it, and not as a divine being, but as a human being. Yet, He was perfectly obedient to God, as we are not.
Lord Christ, you are my God, and I give you my obedience. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer