Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly 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 2:5-11 ESV]
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, before calling his disciples, before people were attracted to Him in large numbers, He was baptized then tested in the wilderness. During His baptism God verbally declared “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” [Luke 3:22 ESV]. While in the desert He was tempted by Satan to deny His divine rights, to believe a lie. His anger toward Satan reached intolerance as He ordered the deceiver away with the words ” ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” [Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4: 8 ESV]. Notice God declares in an absolute statement who His creation is to serve.
Toward the end of His ministry, before entering Jerusalem, two of His disciples sought special privileges when all finally entered the eternal kingdom. They thought they deserved more, having obviously been more faithful than the others, done more for Jesus, been more passionate about His perceived purpose. They even declared their abilities were equal to their Master’s. In response, Jesus made two startling statements. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” [Matthew 20:26-28 ESV]. Do you want greatness in the kingdom? Don’t look for it or expect it. Do not think of the Kingdom of Heaven as simply more of the world. It is not. You must think differently about yourself and about Jesus.
Those who serve God do not think of themselves as great. They are servants. Jesus started His ministry saying all must serve God. He ended His ministry saying even He did not come so those who are His would serve Him. His service to God was also service to us. He gave His life to ransom, to redeem, to buy back those who belong to God. These are statements of absolute fact and are not debatable.
Jesus is a Servant. In the Old Testament every theophany, every time God revealed Himself to someone in a physical form, easily understandable by those witnessing, it is Jesus and He is doing what God wants done. But He is also serving those He was sent to serve by God, the Father.
Wait. Isn’t Jesus God? Yes. He is also Man, the way God originally intended. He has a dual nature. Paul uses a word to define these two natures in Philippians 2:6-8. The word is “morphe” translated “form” in most English Bibles. Christ’s two natures is an eternal mystery yet is one of the most basic of doctrines of Scripture, of Christian theology. Most, I think, do not understand this doctrine, thinking of it more like the world does and less like the recreated mind must. The word morphe means that which makes something what it is. It is an indescribable characteristic without which the thing cannot be. Paul borrowed from the philosophical thinking of his day. Morphe describes the essential quality of anything and everything individually without which it, the thing, would not be what it is. This can be confusing.
Think of a butterfly or a lion, borrowing from Charles William’s Place of the Lion, and what you see is only an imperfect image, even a simple reflection of the real, perfect butterfly or lion of which there is only one. What you see is a real, solid, felt, living and dying animal. But somewhere out there are the perfect butterfly and the perfect lion. Every other butterfly and lion has the essential, unidentifiable quality carried by the single perfect butterfly and lion. The butterfly has the morphe of a butterfly making it what it is. A lion with the morphe of a lion cannot be anything else. It must be a lion.
Man is created in the image of God. Image and morphe are not the same. Do not think of them as the same. Man does not have the morphe of God. We are not little gods. We are Men who carry a likeness allowing us to have an intimate relationship with our Creator.
Jesus has the morphe of God and the morphe of a servant. Notice, Paul did not say Jesus has the morphe of Men. He has the homoioma, the likeness, made after the scheme, the fashion, of Men. He has the outward appearance of a man with all of the internal, uncorrupted workings of man as God originally intended, before Adam sinned, rebelled, and was corrupted. Jesus is perfect God of which there is no other representation. If there are gods they are counterfeits lacking the essential quality which is God. There can be only one God. Jesus is the perfect servant. All those who belong to Him carry in them the essential quality which makes a servant a servant.
He looked like other men, who are sinful and rebellious, who carry in them the characteristic of sin. Jesus had no sin. He was Man the way God intended before Adam fell. He began His ministry acknowledging His place as a servant. He ended His earthly ministry fulfilling His purpose for coming, which was to serve. Those He gathers to Himself are given the nature of a servant. He does not just take us back to what God planned in Adam, but takes us forward for what God planned all along for us.
This is only a brief, rudimentary explanation of a complicated theological doctrine, a mystery which cannot be grasped without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. It is a stumbling block for those who would explain away God, Jesus and our place in creation.
Jesus is God, eternal. Jesus is a Servant of God, eternally. Jesus came as a man identifying with all me. He has the outward appearance of a Man. His physical self, down to the essential DNA of His physical being identifies Him as a Man. As God His eternal and His physical nature is sinless. He decided from eternity to identify with Man without compromising His eternal being as God.
Remember this: He is not ours. We are His.
Note: I have been on a four month hiatus taking care of a meth exposed foster baby boy, now toddler. I will continue to post as I am able.