Friday, June 28, 2013

He Humbled Himself

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)

"See," says one, "He voluntarily became obedient.  He was not equal to Him whom He obeyed."

O obstinate ones and unwise!  This does not at all lower him, for we too become obedient to our friends, yet this has no effect.  He became obedient as a son to His Father.  He did not fall into a servile state, but by this very act above all others guarded his wondrous sonship, by so greatly honoring the Father.  He honored the Father, not that you should dishonor Him, but that you should rather admire Him, and learn from this act, that he is a true son, in honoring his Father more than all else.  No one has so honored God.  As was His height, such was the correspondent humiliation which he underwent.  As He is greater than all, and no one is equal to Him, so in honoring His Father, He surpassed all, not by necessity, nor unwillingly, but this too is part of His excellence.  Words fail me!  Truly it is a great and unspeakable thing, that He became a servant: that He underwent death is far greater.

But there is something still greater, and more strange.  Why?  All deaths are not alike.  His death seemed to be the most ignominious of all—to be full of shame, to be accursed.  For it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree." (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13.)  For this reason the Jews also eagerly desired to slay Him in this manner, to make Him a reproach, that if no one fell away from Him by reason of His death, yet they might from the manner of His death.  For this reason two robbers were crucified with Him, and He in the midst, that He might share their ill repute, and that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "And he was numbered with the transgressors." (Isa. 53:12.)  Yet so much the more does truth shine forth, so much the more does it become brilliant.  For when His enemies plot such things against His glory, and yet it shines forth, so much greater does the matter seem.  Not by slaying Him, but by slaying Him in this way did they think to make Him abominable, to prove Him more abominable than all men, but they availed nothing.  And both the robbers also were such impious ones, (for it was afterward that the one repented,) that, even when on the cross, they reviled Him.  Neither the consciousness of their own sins, nor their present punishment, nor their suffering the same things themselves, restrained their madness.  Therefore the one spoke to the other, and silenced him by saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation?" (Luke 23:40.)  So great was their wickedness.

Therefore it is written, "God also highly exalted Him, and gave Him the Name which is above every name."  When the blessed Paul hath made mention of the flesh, he fearlessly speaks of all His humiliation.  For until he had mentioned that He took the form of a servant, and while he was speaking of His Divinity, behold how loftily he does it, (loftily, I say, according to his power; for he speaks not according to His own worthiness, seeing that he is not able).  "Being in the form of God, He counted it not a prize to be equal with God."  But when he had said, that He became man, henceforth he fearlessly discourses of His low estate, being confident that the mention of His low estate would not harm His Divinity, since His flesh admitted this.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, 7

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