PFOA: Regardless of Lent, meditate on Christ

Please read Philippians 2:6-11 first.

In recent years, the observance of Lent has increased in popularity. Whether as Baptists we should embrace or reject Lent is a question well worth thinking through some other time. However in the next few weeks we can reflect on some aspects of Christ's life, death and resurrection.

The Gospel of Luke describes for us Jesus' birth in ch. 2; His crucifixion and resurrection in ch. 23 & 24, with the intervening chapters describing His life and ministry. This a a historical narrative of events that took place on earth, observed from an earthly perspective. You may mistakenly pass over today's passage as a short summary of this but the Philippians presentation is given from the heavenly perspective. While Luke gives us the history, Philippians gives us the theology underlying it.

When we see the nativity scene we are filled with emotions of joy and love for the sweet baby Jesus "asleep in the hay", with angels heralding "Peace on Earth". But up in heaven, as Paul tells us, the Son of God, who is truly God, did not hold on to his deity, with all its glory, power and honour, but he emptied himself, (as in emptying the glass in "yum-seng"). He "made himself nothing", relinquishing the glory and honour due him, restraining his omnipotence except occasionally to multiply the loaves and fish or to still the storm. He submitted to the will of the Father and to the constraints of a human body, experiencing weakness, weariness, hunger and temptation. In his human form, he did not come as a prince or religious leader, but humbled himself to take on the role of a servant - a carpenter.

When we read of his crucifixion in the gospels, we think of the mocking he faced, the lashing of whips on his back, the forcing of the crown of thorns on his head, his struggling with the heavy cross, of the nails piercing his hands and feet, and finally the gash on his side by a Roman spear. Humanly we try to understand, even feel his anguish and suffering. But the perspective from heaven is different. Immortal God submits himself to death, to die by perhaps the worst method of execution devised by man. He, the true sovereign Lord is scandalised with a rough label on the cross as "King of the Jews". The second person of the Triune God, who enjoyed total and complete communion in the Trinity finally cries, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Pilate and the Jews thought they crucified Christ, but from heaven's perspective, Jesus was "obedient to death - even death on a cross" v.8.

The women heard "He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:6). The disciples looking intently up into the sky were asked, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). Jesus' resurrection and ascension are a matter of historical record. But again the theological significance is found in Philippians 2:9-11. What a doxology! What comfort! What hope!. Every knee shall bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. God has exalted him. And Jesus' glory is now greater than that which he gave up, for now His is our Saviour as well!

Lent or otherwise, we need to continually meditate on these verses, so that we may have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus (v.5).