For the sake of joy, think like Jesus
Series: Advent 2020
In Philippians 2:5 Paul connects the overarching theme of joy to the way that we think: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. That brings us to the big idea of our passage this morning: For the sake of joy, think like Jesus. Daily joy comes as we take on the attitude and mindset, the very thinking of Jesus, specifically in the way that we relate to one another. What kind of thinking characterized the king of glory, born in a manger? 1. He thought of others 2. He thought of God 3. He thought of future glory.
ESV Study Bible
Peter O’brien, NIGC, 230-231
Merry Christmas! This morning is week two of Citylight Church’s Advent celebration. Advent means the arrival of someone significant. Throughout Advent, Christians celebrate Jesus’ first arrival, when he was born as a baby in the manger to save us from our sins, and we look forward with longing to his second arrival when he will come in glory and banish sickness and sin, death and discouragement, and we will be with him forever! This Advent, we are doing something a little bit different. Rather than spending four weeks exploring the birth of Jesus as a baby in a stables’ manger, we are considering a question: Who Is The King of Glory. Who is the King who was born in the manger that first Christmas? At the end of a year like 2020, like me you may be thinking, “just give me baby Jesus.” But we want more than to simply be lulled into nostalgia. Instead, we want to know who the king of glory born in a manger really is. We want to recapture the wonder of Advent and Christmas and the baby in the manger by beholding all of who he is; his divinity and humanity, his glory and humility. Each Sunday of Advent this year and on Christmas Eve, we are looking at four different passages of Scripture, each one revealing a little more of who the king of glory, born in a manger, really is. Who of us doesn’t need that? Let’s pray and explore the wonder of his humility. Pray.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” JOY to the world. These old, familiar lyrics reveal something truly profound: Jesus came into the world to save sinners for the sake of our joy! Joy to the world! But let me ask you a question: If Jesus came to bring joy to the world, why don’t we feel more joyful? This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, so why do we feel more joyful? The great 20th century physician turned preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones answers the question this way, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” Huh?! Jesus came for our joy, but it’s our moment-by-moment thinking that often gets in the way. Enter Paul’s letter to the Philippians; his joy letter. In the very first chapter of Philippians, Paul tells us that he wrote the letter for our progress and joy in the faith! And in Philippians 2:5 Paul connects the overarching theme of joy to the way that we think: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. That brings us to the big idea of our passage this morning: For the sake of joy, think like Jesus. Daily joy comes as we take on the attitude and mindset, the very thinking of Jesus, specifically in the way that we relate to one another. What kind of thinking characterized the king of glory, born in a manger? 1. He thought of others 2. He thought of God 3. He thought of future glory.
HE THOUGHT OF OTHERS
For the sake of your joy, think like Jesus, who thought of others. Philippians 2:5-7 – Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. These verses describe what Christian theologians call the incarnation. The Heidelberg Catechism describes the incarnation this way: The eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took upon himself true human nature from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, through the working of the Holy Spirit. Thus he is also the true seed of David, and like his brothers in every respect, yet without sin. In Philippians 2:6-7, we see the wonder of the incarnation as Paul describes Christ’s position, attitude, and actions. Verse six begins with his position: Christ Jesus was in the form of God! “’Form’ here means the true and exact nature of something, possessing all the characteristics and qualities of something. Therefore, having the “form of God” is roughly equivalent to having equality with God.” His position was “the form of God,” but his attitude was a total willingness to give up status for the sake of others. Christ did not think of equality with God as a thing to be grasped; as something to be used for his own advantage. His position was divinity, his attitude was using his divinity for our advantage not his, and so his action was emptying himself, not by dropping his full divinity, but by taking on full humanity to be our servant! Jesus is the most joyous being in the universe, joy has everything to do with joy, and Jesus thought of others!
There is a true story of a tribe in Africa ruled by a chief that helps me understand the incarnation. In this tribe, the chief wears a headdress and ceremonial robes to display that he is the chief. In this tribe, water is scarce. In order to get it, they would dig wells a hundred feet into the ground, and intentionally make it somewhat difficult to get down into them, so that nobody could come and steal the water that was scarce. Only the strongest men in the tribe could fetch water. One day, one of the strong men was climbing back up with water on his back, fell backwards, and broke his leg. He was in great pain, and the people of the tribe panicked. There were already very few people who could carry water up out of the well; but no one could carry a person up. So they went and told the chief, and do you know what the chief did? He removed his headdress. He removed his ceremonial robes, went all the way down to the bottom of that well, and at the risk of his life, put the man with a broken leg on his back, and carried him back up because only the chief could. The chief never ceased being the chief, but he did lay his glory by, thinking of others. The Lord Jesus Christ emptied himself by taking the form of a servant because he thought of others. That’s the king of glory born in a manger!
Friends, true joy comes when we think like Jesus and he thought of others as a servant. Question: what do you have? What money and means, what roles or positions, what knowledge and skills, what time and treasure do you have? Jesus thought of what he has, divinity, for others. Thinking like Jesus means thinking of all of those things as resources for serving others. I know that it’s so tempting to put our heads down and get through this season, but that’s not the way of joy and it’s not what this season is for; it’s not for getting through, it’s for thinking of others. What might it look like for you to think of others, like Jesus, this Christmas? One very practical answer is that it might look like serving with Citylight’s Compassion Initiative. There are so many opportunities to serve our community, and you can connect with all of them by going to citylightphilly.com/compassion. For the sake of your joy think like Jesus. The king of glory emptied himself and served our weary world because he thought of others. That’s the baby in the manger! Secondly…
HE THOUGHT OF GOD
Philippians 2:8 – And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Again, Paul unfolds Christ’s position, attitude, and actions. His position is true humanity, his attitude complete humility, and his action total obedience to the Father. Do you see how joyous Jesus thought? He thought of the Father. God the Son, who was truly human and also truly God, became obedient to the point of death. But, obedient to who? When Jesus died on the cross, he was not obeying death. Death is the result of sin. Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin. Death had no claim on him that he needed to obey it. When Paul says that Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, he’s saying that Jesus obeyed the Father to the point of dying, even on a cross. You may remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before he was killed, Jesus asked the Father to spare him from the suffering of the cross, but then said, “not my will but yours be done.” He thought of God and obeyed Him to the point of death. Crucifixion was the most shameful death of all. The Romans reserved crucifixion for the lower classes, such as slaves and violent criminals. Crucifixion was sadistic and there was no more degrading way to die; naked and in public agony. Christ’s obedience to the Father and his identification with humanity reached the lowest rung of the ladder. But even this obedience was for the sake of Jesus’ own and ultimate joy. Hebrews 12:2b describes the death of Jesus this way: who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame
For the sake of your joy, think like Jesus. Jesus thought of the Father, obeying him to the lowest run for the sake of his highest joy. Question: In what area of life are you thinking, “Ok, I know God says to do________, but come on; let’s be realistic, I’ll be happier if I do________?” Or, “I know God says not to do _______, but I’ll be happier if I do______.” Oh friend, you’re missing the joy of thinking like Jesus, he thought of God and joyously obeyed him to the lowest rung. Lately, in the evenings, my wife Andrea has been reading Nick Foles book Believe It to the kids and me. If you’re not familiar with Nick Foles, he was the backup QB for the Philadelphia Eagles that ended up leading the team to the 2018 Super Bowl title. In the book, Nick describes meeting and falling in love with his wife Tori, who became seriously ill with Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome soon after their romantic relationship began. Here is what Foles writes… (3 minutes). They would cherish it forever. I’ve walked with countless couples through similar scenarios and they all have said the same thing: this is way more joyous. This may not be your situation right now, but for the sake of your joy, think like Jesus. He thought of God and obeyed for the sake of his joy.
HE THOUGHT OF FUTURE GLORY
Philippians 2:9-11 – 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Christ thought of others in emptying himself, he thought of God in humbling himself, and now we learn that the king of glory born in the manger, thought of future glory. And it was because he walked the path of utter humility to the point of death that the Father highly exalted the Son and bestowed on him the name Lord, Yahweh. The Father giving the Son his very own name is the rarest of all honors. Isaiah 42:3 says, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” The Son humbled himself, so the Father exalted Him so that everyone everywhere will either receive and rest in Him as Lord for salvation in this life or see him as Lord at the judgment when it is too late. And this is all to the glory of God the Father. Do you see how Jesus thought? He thought of future glory. Remember Hebrews 12:2, which says, “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus endured the cross with joy because he thought of the future glory that awaited. He didn’t look for his reward on earth, he looked to future glory, and so he could rejoice even in his greatest trial, the cross. Question: Are you thinking of future glory? The most amazing feat I’ve every witnessed in person was the birth of our son Soren. You might think that it would be the birth of our daughter because my wife gave birth to her in the front seat of our car after only a 50-minute labor, but I didn’t witness too much of that blur because I was driving. But with our son, it was stunning for me to watch my wife endure through ten hours of labor with no epidural and push this precious boy into the world. As collected as my wife was and always is, it looked like agony. How did she endure it all? How did she keep going? She thought of the future glory of having our son and so she endured and even smiled at times through the suffering. And once the future glory became reality, once she was holding our son, all the pain and suffering was drowned in a sea of joy. That’s the joyous power of thinking of future glory like Jesus. When we think of having every tear wiped away and being with Jesus on a renewed earth forever, we are strengthened to joyously keep thinking of God and others, knowing at the proper time God will exalt us. We walk this path because it’s the path of Jesus who humbled himself so that at the proper time God would exalt Him. That’s the king of glory, that the baby in the manger. Receive and rest in Him alone!