Philippians 2:9–11 Palm/Passion Sunday
Imitating Christ’s Humility: The Christ Hymn
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.
Reflection by Ugena Whitlock
Our scripture for today is the last three verses of what is known as the “Christ Hymn,” a majestic passage describing the deity of Jesus. Paul kicks it off with a statement of context in verse 5: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” and then goes into the poem of praise. These verses might be familiar to you; they are to me. They describe Immanuel. Jesus is God among us—God as human us, and at his name, every knee should bow. Wow. The hymn gives hope and comfort that our God is holy and incarnate. It gives us a God to hold onto in Jesus. And by the way, these verses were used by early Church leaders to shape creeds that establish who Jesus is—God and human, member of the Holy Trinity. We still recite one such creed at our worship. But back to Paul’s intro…..These verses do more than just setting Jesus as an example or establishing a doctrine of Christ's deity. It develops a vision for what it means to be fully human before God and toward one another. Our verses, 9-11, are very politically charged, for they affirm that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. This was a treasonous statement! So what are we to do once we are Jesus-criminals? Paul tells us: don’t act selfishly for our own desires, but each of you look to the interests of the others—and don’t grumble or argue about it, either (v. 14). What we are to do with our faith is to look out for each other, serve each other, insist upon justice for each other. If we are acknowledging Jesus with our mouths and bowing at his name, yet we are not practicing love and justice toward one another, we are missing the most important part of the message. To be fully human—our best selves and what God is calling us to be—means we are human to, for, and with each other.