But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Christ is expressly called God's servant (Isaiah 42:1; cf. Matthew 12:18), and "bondservant" (Psalm 11:6; cf. Exodus 21:6).
I. TO WHOM He became a servant. To man's great Lord and Master (Isaiah 49:3). It was with His Father He entered into the contract of service (Psalm 40:6). It was His Father's business He was employed in (Luke 2:49; John 9:4).
II. FOR WHOM He became a servant. For and instead of those who were bound to service, but utterly unable for it.
III. THE NECESSITY of His becoming a servant for us for our salvation.
1. Mankind were constituted God's hired servants by the first covenant, viz., of works, and extend to that in their head the first Adam. Their work was perfect obedience to the holy law; their hire was life (Romans 10:1). The penalty of breaking away from their Master was perpetual bondage under the curse (Galatians 3:10).
2. They never made out their service. Through the solicitation of the great runaway servant, the devil, they violated the covenant, and broke away from their Master. So they lost all plea for the hire, and justly became bondmen under the curse of the broken covenant of works (Galatians 4:24). Their falling under this curse inferred the loss of their liberty, and constituted them bondmen (Genesis 9:25; Joshua 9:23).
3. By the breaking of that covenant they lost all their ability for their service, and were left without strength (Romans 5:6). They had no suffering strength to bear their punishment, and so must have perished under it. They had no working strength, for their work arm, once sufficient, was broken; nay, they had neither hand nor heart for their work again (Romans 8:7; Joshua 24:19).
4. Howbeit the punishment due to them behoved to be borne, and the service to be made out according to the original contract, the covenant of works; or else they could never have life and salvation (Genesis 2:7; Isaiah 42:21; Genesis 28:15).
5. Since all this behoved to be done, and they could not do it, it was necessary for their life and salvation that Christ should come under the curse for them, accept their service, and fully serve it out for them (Galatians 3:3-5, 13).
IV. THE CONTRACT of the service — the covenant of grace made between the Father and Christ. Heaven's device in this case was that Christ should be the worker for life and salvation to poor sinners; and that they should get life and salvation, through Him, by His grace, and so work from life and salvation received, as sons entitled to the inheritance antecedently to all their working (Romans 6:23; Romans 4:4, 5). Here consider —
(1) The contract was entered into from eternity (Titus 1:2).
(2) Its design was —
(a) To illustrate the Divine glory much darkened by the hired servants of God's own house by sin (Isaiah 49:3).
(b) To save lost sinners (Isaiah 49:6).
(3) The service which in this contract He undertook to perform was to fulfil the whole law for them (Hebrews 10:9).
(4) The covenanted reward of the service was a glorious exaltation to Himself, and eternal life for them (ver. 9; Titus 1:2).
V. THE FULFILLING of the service according to the contract. It was a hard service, but He went through with it (ver. 8).
1. He entered into this service by His being born holy for us, and remained so to the end. Thus He answered the demand which the law had upon them for original holiness as a condition of life (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:35).
2. He went on in His service in the righteousness of His life, being obedient unto death (ver. 8; John 16:4).
3. Having suffered all His life long, He completed and finished His service in His death and burial; thus answering for them the law's demand of satisfaction for sin (John 19:30). The term of His continuance in this state of servitude was, according to the covenant, till death, but no longer (John 9:4; Job 3:19; Romans 4:9).
VI. WHEREFORE HE ENGAGED in this service.
1. Love to God and man (Exodus 21:5).
2. He took it on Him for releasing us from that state of bondage into which our father Adam, by his mismanagement, had brought all mankind. What Judah offered to do in the case of Benjamin (Genesis 44:33), Christ really performed in the case of His brethren.
3. To bring them into a state of adoption in the family of God. He became a bondservant that they might become sons and daughters (Galatians 4:1-5).
VII. THE USE.
1. To all strangers to Jesus Christ: ye are bondmen under the law, and so —
(1) It lies upon you to fulfil the service to which man was bound by the covenant of works, viz., perfect obedience under the pain of the curse (Romans 3:19). As you are unable for this you can never be saved while out of Christ.
2. It lies upon you to bear the punishment due to you for breaking away from your Lord and Master (Genesis 2:17).
2. Let all be exhorted to flee to Christ, and by faith embrace Him, and the service performed by Him as their only plea for life and salvation. Surely it will be glad tidings to the poor broken hearted sinner, who sees that he cannot serve the Lord according to the demand of the law, to know that there is a service performed by the Mediator for him which is perfect in the eye of the law, and that a way of reconciliation is opened.
1. If you have any part or lot in this matter of Christ's service, let it be the business of your life to serve the Lord Christ. Consider —
(1) He was in the form of God who served for you, and delivered you from the worst of masters.
(2) He has no need of your service, but ye were in absolute need of His service for you.
(3) The service He rendered you was hard service; the yoke He puts upon you is easy, and the burden light.
(4) Christ fulfilled all righteousness for you to the end that you might serve Him in holiness and righteousness.
(5) Christ served you ungrudgingly, do not grudge what you give or do for Him.
(6) As Christ was highly exalted after His service so will you be after yours. Be faithful therefore.
2. Redeemed by Christ.
(1) In what spirit are we to serve Him.
(a) Not as slaves, but as children (Galatians 4:7). This is the only acceptable service.
(b) Out of love for Him (Hebrews 6:10; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 2 Timothy 1:7).
(c) Universally (Colossians 4:12).
(d) Constantly (Psalm 119:112).
(2) How are we to serve Him.
(a) By being of a loving disposition towards our brethren.
(b) By doing good as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10).
(c) Put on bowels of mercies towards those who are in distress (Colossians 3:12).
(d) Show a strict regard for justice in your dealings with men as Christ did in His dealings towards God for you.
(e) Be humble (John 13:14-15).
(T. Boston, 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: