Philippians 2 has been discussed, dissected, contemplated over and, most of all, rejoiced in by the Church from the moment Paul penned it. What makes this portion of Scripture so central to the Church is how it reveals the humility of Christ as He set aside the glory He shared with the Father (John 17:5) and Spirit to come to earth as a human for the redemption of humanity. But that’s not the only humility on display in Philippians 2, so is the Father’s.
I was recently reading this passage, and verse nine -- in a soul staggering way -- just leaped off the page. The Father’s chosen means to glorify Himself was to exalt someone else 1. Let the words of the text wash slowly over you:
God has exalted him, and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9
The Father’s plan is to cause every knee to bow, not to Himself but to his Son. This. Is. Breathtaking. And what makes it so staggering is that sending Christ was not a backup plan (Ephesians 1:4-5). The world was created so that the glory of God could be shared with humanity (Isaiah 43:7) through the incarnation and exaltation of the Son. This means humility is a quality that has eternally existed in the Father that did not originate in Christ.
The Father is the source of, and model for, the Son’s humility. The Father modeled humility for the Son from eternity to eternity, and when it came time for the Son to leave heaven for earth and take the cross, the Son did what He had always seen his Father do, humble Himself for the exaltation of others.
“Follow me” was not something Christ invented during His earthly ministry; it’s what led to His earthly ministry. It’s also the commission He left for us. As I have modeled the Father for you, go model me for the world. Go embody eternal humility in a temporal world. This is a glorious redemptive mission of the church: to reveal Triune glory to the world by demonstrating the humility of the Father revealed in the humility of the Son until the exalted Son returns.
1 The Father, Son and Spirit share unity of substance in their deity while distinction in personhood. So to say “someone else” does not infer there are multiple gods, but rather that the Father is not the Son.