October 12th, 2020

Dear EDiBS Family,

Hello! We're happy to report that Pastor Stark will be returning tomorrow for the resumption of our current study in the book of Genesis. Please enjoy one final selection from the archives today, this time a brief session from Philippians 2.

We hope you will find it to be helpful and encouraging in your lives.

God's blessings in Christ!
The EDiBS Team
Model...or Mediator?

Philippians 2:5-8


Note: this is archived material.

Greetings everyone! Welcome to Monday’s edition of E-DiBS. Because this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it, especially because we have the wonderful opportunity to draw near to God through His Word! Today we continue on in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Let’s pray as we prepare to study:

Almighty God, we praise you for your grace and mercy in our lives, shown to us in the love of your one and only Son. Thank you for forgiveness in Jesus. Thank you for new life in His name! Thank you for new mercies, fresh every morning. And thank you for this time to learn from you and be changed by you through your Word. Father, we know that your Word has the power to accomplish what it says, because it is living and active. We ask that such would be the case in each of our lives right now. We ask this in the name of Christ, Amen.

Getting Started
As we get started today, Paul continues his words of encouragement to the people in Philippi with regard to their unity in the faith and their humility of heart and mind in their relationships with one another. Our focus: Jesus as model, or Jesus as Mediator?

Philippians 2:5-8
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!

I’m the last of four children, and my siblings are all considerably older than I am. Steve, my oldest brother, is 11 years my senior, and when I was a young boy I idolized him. He was smart; he had a job and his own car; he went to college by the beach, and he rode his skateboard to classes. Ultra-cool stuff for a seven year-old! At Christmas time, he always gave me presents related to science or chemistry - stuff I could use to try and blow up things. And as I got older and discovered a love for popular music, his Pink Floyd albums sent me into a whole new world. “When I grow up,” I’d say to myself, “I want to be just like Steve!”

We’ve all had people in our lives whom we’ve wanted to emulate, whose example we’ve wanted to follow, and whose ideals we’ve wanted to embrace as our own. And in today’s reading, we find that same truth coming into play. But as Paul writes to the Philippian Christians about having the mind of Christ there is a profound difference in play, because Jesus Christ is being presented as more than a mere model for us to emulate; instead, He is, by His death, the very Mediator of a new way of life. Jesus has not simply shown us the way; He has made the way for us.

Verse 5: Paul, in continuing to teach about unity and the heart of a servant, and having expressed its importance already in several different ways, steps to a new level here in verse 5 by holding up Jesus as the supreme example of what constitutes a right attitude in the life of a Christian. And certainly, this is appropriate. There is no question that Jesus is the ultimate example of a humble heart and a life of service.

Verse 6: But as Paul progresses with his portrayal of Christ in verses 6 and following, it becomes immediately clear that he is going far beyond the description of a mere role model. Rather, he is depicting One who did for us what we could not do ourselves. In fact, verses 6-11 contain perhaps the most important Christological passage in all of the New Testament. These verses affirm the nature of our Lord Jesus as to His eternity, His deity, His humanity, His saving work at the cross, and His exalted place in the heavenly realms; the One at whose name every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord.

Verses 6-7: As we can see, Christ’s deity is asserted at the very beginning of verse 6, and Paul is intent on keeping that before his readers. Having established that, he goes on to say in verse 7 that though Jesus is truly God, that is, co-equal with the Father and the Spirit, essential and unchanging in His character, He chose to make Himself nothing and to make Himself a servant. The Greek here is literally translated “He emptied Himself.” In other words, though Jesus had all the substance of deity, and though that substance could never be taken from Him, He willingly, for a season, limited Himself through His incarnation, through His becoming man. Did He cease to become God during that time? Absolutely not. But He did set aside several things: His heavenly glory and eternal riches, which he left in order to be on earth, living as a person of very little means; His independent authority as the second person of the Godhead, as He subjected Himself to His Father’s will and the direction of the Spirit during his earthly ministry; and perhaps most important of all, at the cross Jesus ultimately set aside the perfect relationship He had with the Father, bearing instead His Father’s wrath for the sins of the world.

Verse 8: That’s what Paul is talking about in verse 8 when he says that Jesus, being found in appearance as a man - and again, the Greek makes very clear that this was no shadow existence, but that Jesus was truly and fully human - humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross. Is it a beautiful example of a servant‘s heart? It is. But more than that, it is the description of a beautiful Savior who provided you and me with the gift of forgiveness and salvation by taking our punishment for sin upon Himself. That’s why, more than a model, Jesus is to be exalted as our Mediator.

Wrapping Up
As we wrap up for the day, I always want to be sensitive to where folks in our E-DiBS family are at in their own relationship with Jesus Christ, and because we have so many people who receive these studies from friends and relatives, there’s always the likelihood that some of you who are studying along may not have ever considered the saving work of Christ and what it means for your life. If you have never been brought to the foot of the cross, if you have never realized your need for a Savior or sought out the forgiveness of your sins, then consider today the day that God is calling you to Himself; calling you to repent; calling you to new life. If you could be right with the Creator of the universe by following His example, that would be great. But the problem is that you fall short. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. You don’t need a model to follow; you need a Mediator to go to the Father on your behalf and pay the debt that you owe for your sin. That Mediator is Jesus Christ, who, taking on the nature of a servant, lived the perfect life you could not live, died in your stead at the cross to pay the penalty of your sin, and rose from the dead victorious over sin, death, and the devil himself. He came to deliver you. Will you be delivered today? 
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