But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
I. HOW FAR CHRIST WAS LESSENED.
1. His Godhead was obscured by the interposing veil of our flesh. He emptied Himself of the Divine glory, not by ceasing to be what He was, but by assuming something He was not before.
2. His dignity was lessened. It was a condescension of God to take notice of man's misery (Psalm 113:6), much more to take part in it. Three steps in this condescension may be noted.
(1) He who thought it no robbery to be equal with God is made less than God (John 14:28), as Mediator.
(2) He was not only lesser than God, but lesser than the angels (Hebrews 2:7).
(3) In the human nature He was depressed beyond the ordinary condition of man (Psalm 22:6; Isaiah 53:3; Mark 9:12). Born of a poor virgin, His cradle a manger, etc., lived a life of poverty, etc.
II. THIS WAS HIS OWN VOLUNTARY ACT. This is in no way inconsistent with the action of the Father in sending Him.
1. What He was to do and undergo was proposed to Him and willingly accepted (Hebrews 10:6-7; Isaiah 7:5; Proverbs 8:31).
2. The Scripture assigneth this work to the love and condescension of Christ Himself as the immediate cause of His performance of it (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:25-26; Revelation 1:5-6; 2 Corinthians 8:9).
III. THIS WORK WAS FOR OUR SAKES.
1. As our Mediator.
(1) He emptied Himself that we might be filled with all grace.
(2) He was born of a woman that we might be born of God (Galatians 4:4-5).
(3) He was made a curse that we might have a blessing (Galatians 3:13-14).
(4) He was made poor for us that by His poverty we might be made rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
(5) There are some things in the mediation of Christ which belong to ministry and others to authority. Those which belong to ministry as to be in servant's form, and to die; he must be a man for that. Those which belong to authority as to bring us to God convey to us the spirit; and He must be God for that.
2. As our pattern (ver. 5).
(1) The power of Christ's example is general.
(a) It is perfect, for His life is religion exemplified, a visible commentary on God's Word.
(b) Engaging. Christ's submission to a duty should make it engaging to us (John 13:14; 1 John 2:6). Alexander the Great achieved most of his exploits by his example. When hard beset, he would make the first in every action.
(c) Effectual (2 Corinthians 3:18).
(d) Encouraging (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15).
(e) An armour of proof against all temptations (ver. 5; 1 Peter 4:1).
(2) What He teacheth us by making Himself of no reputation.
(a) Patience under indignities undergone for God's sake (1 Peter 2:21; Hebrews 12:2). Consider if Christ had been unwilling to suffer for us what had been our condition to all eternity! We cannot lose so much for Him as He hath for us (2 Corinthians 8:9). We are gainers by Him if we love the world for His sake (Matthew 10:29-30.)
(b) Humility. We are far inferior to Christ, and shall we stand so much on our reputation (Matthew 11:29; Matthew 20:28; John 13:3).
(c) More exact obedience (ver. 8; Hebrews 5:8-9).
(d) Self-denial (Romans 15:3; John 12:27-28; Philippians 1:20).
(e) Contempt of the world and the glory thereof.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: