When we gathered on Sunday, we sang the beautiful words of the old hymn: “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God!” Hymns reinforce our understanding of Biblical Theology.
It is very likely that the first-century churches sang the words recorded in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5–11).
Paul used those melodious words to admonish the beloved church at Philippi to “adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.” In the Elizabethan English of King James: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
What is that attitude which we are encouraged to adopt? What is the mind of Christ?
First, the New Testament church sang of the selfless attitude exhibited by Jesus. For unnumbered millennia, in the royal chambers of Heaven, the Second Person of the Triune God existed “in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6). He could have remained in the inner sanctum of Glory, but he chose to relinquish his throne in favor of a bed of hay in a filthy stable and later, the rugged Roman cross. Paul wrote to Philippi encouraging them to remember Jesus’ selflessness and to emulate it in their own lives.
Second, the church sang of the servant-hearted Savior. “He emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2:7). In the upper-room, on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus “got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him” (John 13:4–5). Jesus did the work of the lowest, most humble servant to illustrate for His followers their calling to humbly serve.
Thirdly, the church sang of Jesus’ sacrifice. When “He had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus lovingly laid down His life. He “proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8.)
Every Resurrection Sunday, the first day of the week, the earliest disciples of Jesus gathered. As someone strummed a small harp, they sang the memorized words of their faith. With hearts lifted to Heaven, they sang about their Savior’s selfless heart, servant heart, and sacrificial heart. Musically, they proclaimed, “God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.