Passage of the Day: Philippians 2: 7b [ NIV - see highlight passage in bold/underlined] … 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Philippians 2: 7b [NASB] … 7b …, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
My Journal for Today: John MacArthur ends his Strength For Today devotional on this date, while focusing on today’s verse, but also by quoting the words of Jesus in Matt. 20: 27, where our Lord said, “…whoever wants to be first must be your slave [or ‘bond servant’ in the NASB].” And then MacArthur asks his readers if we, who call ourselves Christians, really pursue that model of Christlikeness by serving others in lowliness – as their SLAVE - as we have also read in Phil. 2: 3 – 4. That’s how Christ came into the world to serve as a slave to the will of His father, humbling Himself, even unto the cross, to serve mankind as was the will of His Heavenly Father. And since Phil. 2: 5 commands us to take the attitude of our Savior, we should see ourselves as a SLAVE to our God, first, and then to others as modeled by Jesus.
Today’s highlighted verse (Phil. 2: 7b), uses the Greek term “morphe” when it refers to Jesus taking the “very nature” (or “form” in the NASB) of a bond servant [or more accurately “SLAVE” according to MacArthur]. That, of course, is the Greek word which is the base from which comes our word “metamorphosis” or the more modern term “morph,” which refers to something changing its essence, from one form to another. And as we’ve been studying thus far this month, Christ did this by His “kenosis,” or by emptying Himself of His claims to Trinitarian majesty as He was incarnated into a babe and lived for 33 years as a man, finally dying as the Lamb of God on a cross for all of us. So, as MacArthur points out, Christ, fully God, “morphed” into a servant or slave to live His life as a man on earth. And again we read Paul’s exhortation in Phil. 2: 5, that our attitude, as Christians, must MORPH from our basic sin nature to become that of Christlikeness as we aspire to live like Him. So, above all, the logic and truth of today’s verse would point us to become bond servants of God as was our Savior; and our servanthood to Christ, in our surrender to His Spirit, is our status as bond-slave to Him as we live our lives for His purposes.
Jesus was the ultimate slave model, totally “bonded” to the will of His Heavenly Father - and also to the needs of all of mankind - as He ultimately served us by dying as the suffering servant that we might have eternal life (see John 3: 16). In fact over 700 years before Christ came among us, Christ, the Messiah, was depicted as the One who would become almost unrecognizable on the cross, serving mankind [see Isaiah 52: 13 – 14]. What we’re reading in Phil. 2, is how Christ’s fulfillment of those prophesies plays out in the lives of those who come after Him … those of us who serve Him as His disciples [really, more accurately, as His “slaves”]; and in doing so, those who serve God’s Kingdom do so by serving others.
Christ’s servanthood is our model as we strive toward Christlikeness; and it again begs the question, “Are we, in fact, living out this mandate for servanthood or slavery to our God?” I, for one, have far to go; but I’m bolstered by God’s promise (in Phil. 1: 6) that He is doing a work in me to shape me into His image – and this most certainly leads me to become more of a slave to His Spirit in this process.
But stay tuned; … there’s even more to come about our Servant and Lord.
My Prayer Today: Transform us, Lord, into Your likeness … as a true slave to the Father as we serve others as You did. Amen
Blogger’s Note: If you’re a follower of John MacArthur’s teaching, as you certainly can perceive I am, you may want to read Dr. M’s book, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ, which goes deep into a study of the term “slave” in the New Testament, which is a term which has become watered down and slighted by many Bible translations. That book really helped me when I was writing the journal entry you read above.