But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
In the text we have —
1. The depth of Christ's humiliation.
(1) Specified — "death."
(2) Aggravated "death of the cross."
2. The manner thereof.
(1) Voluntary — "humbled Himself."
(2) "Obedient."The Scripture marks the special stages of His humiliation.
1. He stooped to become a man. Had Christ been made an angel it had been infinitely below Himself.
2. He condescended to put His neck under the yoke of the law. (Galatians 4:4). A creature is indispensably subjected to the law of its Maker, by virtue of its creatureship and dependence, and is involved in no humiliation. But the Son of God is the Law Maker. He submitted to the ceremonial law in His circumcision, and to the moral law in His life; all which subjection was not a debt to God, but a voluntary subscription. "The law is not made," in some sense, "for a righteous man" (1 Timothy 1:9), but is not made in any sense for the glorious God.
3. He appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). He trod not one step awry in sin, but many of the footsteps of sin appeared upon Him: e.g. —
(1) Poverty. Sin was the great bankrupt that brought all to beggary, and so poverty is the likeness of sin.
(2) Sorrow (Isaiah 53:3). The same Hebrew word stands for both.
(3) Shame and reproach. Sin was the inlet of shame (Genesis 3:7). So Christ (Isaiah 53:3; Psalm 27:6).
(4) The withdrawment of the Father and clouding the light of His countenance (Matthew 27:46, cf. Isaiah 59:2).
(4) Death. In amplification of this, the principal act of Christ's humiliation, note —
I. WHAT KIND OF DEATH CHRIST HUMBLED HIMSELF UNTO. Not a natural death, nor a mere violent death, but a violent death having three embittering circumstances.
1. Pain. The easiest death is painful, however downy the bed. The first mention of Christ's death is that of bruising (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:10). So painful was it in thought that Christ shrunk from it (Matthew 26:39). Three things made the actual death painful.
(1) The piercing His hands and feet, those sinews and sensitive parts.
(2) The extension and distortion of His body.
(3) The slowness and gradual approach of death. Six complete hours in the heat of the day was Christ in dying (Mark 15:25; cf. ver. 34).
2. Shame. There is nothing so sharp and intolerable, not even pain, to a noble spirit as shame (Hebrews 12:2). The cross was an ignominious death, and Christ endured it amidst circumstances of aggravated ignominy, nakedness, and scorn. All his offices were derided: His Priestly (Matthew 27:42); His prophetical (Luke 22:64); His Kingly (John 19:2-3). Notorious villains were crucified with Him. He suffered without the gate (Hebrews 12:12; Leviticus 24:14).
3. Curse. Pain was bad, shame worse, curse worst of all (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13; Acts 5:30).
II. IN WHAT MANNER CHRIST UNDERWENT THIS DEATH.
1. Willingly. His sacrifice was a free-wilt offering. Neither the Father's ordination nor men's violence constituted the sacrifice (Psalm 40:7-8; John 10:17-18). He might have avoided it (Matthew 26:53), but so far from that He anticipated His executioners (John 19:33). But He was more than willing (Luke 12:50).
2. Obediently. It was His will to die; and yet He died not of His own will, but of His Father's. The two are conjoined in Hebrews 10:7, and John 10:18. This obedience was the best part of His sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22; Matthew 26:39).
3. Humbly and meekly — (Isaiah 53:7) — from His expostulation with Judas (Matthew 26:50) to His last prayer (Luke 23:34) all is that of One who, when He suffered He threatened not (1 Peter 2:23).
III. UPON WHAT GROUNDS CHRIST THUS HUMBLED HIMSELF TO DEATH.
1. That Scripture prophecies might be accomplished (Isaiah 63:1; Genesis 3:15; Luke 24:25, 26).
2. That Scripture types might be fulfilled — Isaac, the offerings, the brazen serpent, etc.
3. That His will and testament might be firm and effectual (Hebrews 9:16, 17; Luke 22:20).
4. That justice might be satisfied (Hebrews 9:22; Romans 3:25, 26).
5. That He that hath the power of death might be destroyed (Hebrews 2:14).
6. To take away the meritorious cause of death, namely, sin (Romans 8:3; Romans 6:10-11; Daniel 9:24-26). Application: Three uses may be made of this doctrine.
1. For information.
(1) This lets us see the transcendent and inexpressible love of Christ to poor sinners (Galatians 2:20).
(2) The horrible and cursed evil of sin to need such a remedy.
(3) The exact and impartial justice of God and His most righteous remedy against sin. Rather than that sin should go unpunished He spared not His own Son (Romans 3:25).
(4) This is sad and dreadful news to all impenitent sinners (Hebrews 10:29).
2. For exhortation. If Christ shed His blood for sin(1) let us shed the blood of sin (Romans 6:10, 11; Galatians 5:24).
(2) Let our lives run out for Christ in a vigorous activity (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; Titus 2:14).
(3) Let us praise Him exceedingly, and raise Him in our esteem above everything and every one else (1 Peter 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 3:8; Matthew 10:37).
(4) Let us prize highly our own souls that were purchased at such a price (1 Peter 1:18).
(5) Let us be willing, if need be, to shed our blood for Him (Acts 20:24; Revelation 12:11; Hebrews 12:4).
(6) By faith and hearty acceptance of Christ, let us put in for a share of, and get an interest in Christ's blood (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:14).
3. For comfort.
(1) Your enemies are foiled. The justice of God is satisfied; the law is fulfilled; Satan is subdued; sin is abolished as it binds over to punishment, and is reflected in the conscience by way of accusation; death is slain.
(2) Your person is accepted.
(3) Christ is willing to do anything for thee.
(4) Heaven is opened to thee (Hebrews 10:19).
(J. Meriton, 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: