Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 8th April 2020.
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, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV)
Encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, compassion, joy—it seems in the age of COVID‑19, these things may be in short supply. For the Christian, however, there should be great encouragement from being united with Christ, comfort from his love, common sharing or fellowship in the Spirit, tenderness, compassion, and joy.
The main focus of this passage is unity and humility within the body of Christ; indeed, we shouldn’t ignore the point here. But what good are we to others when we lack the encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, compassion and joy of Christ. Brothers and sisters, we need to remember for ourselves the blessings of our unity, our union, with Jesus. Today, I want to touch on two key things:
…who, being in very nature God,Philippians 2:6–8 (NIV)
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
1. Jesus humbles himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross.
This is one of, if not the most precious truth for the Christian. It is precious because we wage war and battle daily against the sin in our hearts, minds, and bodies. Yet, this battle often burdens us because we forget that Jesus deals the crushing blow through his death on the Cross of Calvary.
He relinquishes his divinity to save our humanity. His human act of service makes us children of the king. His obedience underwrites our disobedience. His humility (and humiliation) is our pride. His death gives us life and victory over sin.
Whatever battles you fight today, they are already won in the death of Jesus. What encouragement… what comfort… what joy…! Yet, there is more:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest placePhilippians 2:9–11 (NIV)
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
2. God exalts Jesus to the highest place.
Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, I was reading the account of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem with my son. For many contemporary observers in Jesus’ day, this was the declaration of a king, the king of the Jews, who would overthrow the shackles of the Romans and usher in a new age of the Jewish nation. However, they would be sorely disappointed as Jesus would go to the Cross and die.
As we look forward to Easter and remember “the king of the Jews,” we remember that Jesus wasn’t merely some earthly king, but the ultimate king who God exalted to the highest place and given the name above every other name. Jesus is the King of kings, Lord of lords, who sits at the right hand of God now and forevermore.
No matter what circumstances you face today, nothing is beyond the realm of Jesus’ authority. He sits at the highest place of authority and power. Find comfort and peace knowing that Jesus holds all things in his hands, most importantly, he holds you in his hands and there is no authority or power able to take you from his grasp.
Jesus Christ is Saviour and Lord. To know Jesus died for you, to know Jesus sits on the throne above all thrones, should bring us great encouragement, comfort, fellowship in the Spirit, tenderness, compassion, and joy. And, in Jesus, these things are never in short supply.
As you go about your day, remember that the greatest threat of sin and death was dealt a serious blow by the death of Jesus. Today, whether it’s the physical threat of COVID-19 or death, whether it’s the emotional and mental threats of anxiety and worry, whether it’s the spiritual threat of sin or even Satan himself—they no longer hold any power over you. We read in Romans 8:31-39:
[…] If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? […]Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Turn your eyes on Jesus. Turn your eyes away from the things of this world. Our hope comes only by looking to Jesus and what he did for us on the Cross. Our blessed assurance is that Jesus is king, not just any king, but the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Indeed, blessed assurance Jesus is mine. This is my story and this is my song. I pray you can say the same. If not, you can; you only need to turn your eyes on Jesus and discover what he has done.
Heavenly Father, what encouragement to know that your Son, Jesus, died for us. What comfort to know that nothing escapes his notice and he holds all things in his hands. What a privilege to be in relationship, in fellowship, with you through your Holy Spirit. What a joy to know the tenderness and compassion of your love for us.
Father, will you encourage us today to know what a blessing it is to know Jesus, not only know him but be united with him through his death for us. As he relinquishes his divinity, he saves our humanity. As he serves us in his body, we are brought into relationship with the divine. Through his obedience to the Cross he resolves the problem of our disobedience. Through his humility and humiliation, we boast even more in him. Through his death, we find life and victory over sin.
Thank you for the glorious truth of the gospel, for the life we find in Jesus himself, for the assurance that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.