2010-07-22 - Me First
Originally Published 2004-05-20
Phil 2:5-7 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (NAS)
My sons are older now, so I don't hear this phrase as much as I used to hear it. Little children always want to be first in line, first to try the new whatever. Only one can be first, and as long as they actually get to be first periodically, the children I know are happy to be included even if someone else is picked. But there is a competitive streak in us all that wants to be first. And while there is nothing necessarily wrong with being first, demanding to be first or insisting on being preeminent, is arrogant at best. I sense this "Me first" attitude flooding our society. It is thinly masked behind, "not my fault", and other excuses. It is a grim scent that is attempting to fill every crack and crevice of the rooms of our civilization. It is selfishness. It is sin.
Jesus was already first. He was already a member of the Trinity, the Godhead, Three in One. All-knowing, all-powerful, all-present in all times and places at once. He has created all things and by His will all things have their being. There is none that can equal Him save the other members of the Godhead Who are co-equal.
And yet, when that place was His by right to claim, He willingly laid it all aside. He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. That is an profoundly amazing statement. Jesus willingly laid aside his glory and majesty beyond our comprehension and put on our limited, wounded flesh. For a little more than thirty years He lived this life and walked in our shoes. And then at the end of that life, He allowed Himself to be convicted in a mock trial, savagely beaten and crucified by His own creation. During this time He completed His task.
He was crucified in our place. He lived a perfect, sinless life. And just like the perfect lambs that were sacrificed during the Passover celebration, Jesus became our sacrifice. And on His perfect life was laid the sin and guilt of all mankind, including you and I. Near the end of the crucifixion, God the Father turned His back on His Son breaking unending fellowship that had been in place going back into eternity past. Jesus suffered death. And while death could not hold Jesus, and the power of death was broken by the Resurrection, Jesus suffered death.
The only way this was possible was that Jesus did not take the attitude of, "Me first." He willingly released any hold He had on His preeminent position. Why? It was the only way to save mankind. We had walked away from God in the Garden of Eden claiming that we knew better. We had fallen from innocence and lost the concepts of grace and mercy. We had decided again we knew better and built a system of works to earn salvation. When the Savior came, light burst back onto the scene and the darkness resisted with furious might before being crushed under Jesus' heal. The power of sin and death are broken. The love of God for a sinful race was known again. Grace and mercy are clear again in the forgiveness of the cross. But we must put down our pride, and acknowledge that we can do nothing to save ourselves. There is no room for, "Me first." in salvation. The work is done.
He has shown us the greatest love, in that while we were still His enemies, Jesus loved us enough to die in our place so that we could be forgiven our sins and could have eternal life with Him. Praise God.
Grace & Peace,