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before us, as in a map, the mind of Christ Jesus, and says to us, as it were, ' There is a specimen of what a man's mind should be. There is the ideal of a sound mind, and not the ideal only, but the ideal realized, the ideal manifested in fact. There is a perfect mind.' With all reverence, and with the awe of one who felt that he was touching a sacred and divine substance, but with all particularity, as one who knew that he was teaching vital truth, the Apostle, if I may so say, dissects before our eyes and lays bare the secret principles of our Saviour's disposition and character, showing how fearfully and wonderfully His mind was made, and how mysteriously humility and greatness were blended in it; that we who observe His motives and conduct may become good physicians, and cure our own spiritual diseases by copying His example and attending to the precepts of His Word.
I. First, the Apostle points us to His Godhead, and to His mind as God: “Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” The Apostle says, “ being in the form of God;" that is, being, subsisting, not taking Godhead - to Himself. The Apostle speaks afterwards of taking the form of a servant, but he says, “ being in the form of God," being God always; subsisting as God from all eternity, pre-existing before all worlds ; being God in the very substance of His nature, very God of very God; not a created being, however high, nor a mere power of God but not a person, but being God by constitution, self-existent, self-subsistent, the Life, the Creating Word, the Jehovah, the Lord, I AM. This the word “ being " teaches.
When it is added “in the form of God," we learn that as truly as our Lord took to Himself the form of
a servant,—that is, the nature of man in which He acted as a servant, being man indeed, so truly He was in the form of God indeed. The word “ form is sometimes used to denote appearance, as distinguished from inward reality. It is not so employed here; it means, in the nature and essence of God, in the reality of God, as “the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of His person,” emanating from Him as light from the sun; Light Himself of the Light; Life coming out from Life; one with His Father, consubstantial and coeternal with Him of whom are all things, and by whom all things subsist. And thus our Lord is God indeed.
And what was His mind as God? " He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” See how the Apostle discovers to us the secrets of Heaven, and shows us the very mind of God. As God he thought, and what did He think? He thought His own equality with God was no robbery, no plunder, no usurpation. That is what the words mean. Unless, with some, we say that they should rather be explained as meaning, that He did not look upon His equality with God as a thing to which He would cling as loth to part with it, coveting to retain a state which was then His own. There are some considerations which give colour to such a rendering of the Apostle's language. But whichever way we understand them, in either case taught that our Lord was God, and knew that He was God. He felt Himself to be a king. He knew that He was placed on the same level as the Almighty, begotten by an eternal generation, possessing an inherent coequality, wearing the same diadem, sharing the like honours, seated on an everlasting throne.
And thinking this, His mind was conscious of no guilty usurpation in so thinking, because He was God indeed. Our Lord was not like Satan, that proud and ambitious spirit, that turbulent Archangel, who could not brook authority though none but God was over him, and who aspired to be the King of Heaven. Had Satan succeeded, Satan would have been an usurper, Satan would have been conscious of robbery, and would have felt that he had no right to sit upon that throne. Our Lord was not like Satan even in the lowest and faintest degree. Nor was He like Adam, who would not obey his Maker, and strove, though conscious of his wickedness, to set his own pleasure above the laws of God
Adam in attempt was an usurper, and found death by usurpation. The Son of God was neither like Adam nor like Satan, for His equality with God was a reality, and He knew it to be a reality. His position in Heaven was undisputed, and indisputable. He was equal indeed, and He thought Himself equal. His mind told Him what He once said upon earth, “I and My Father are one."
You see, my brethren, our Lord was a rightful king He was not like one of the self-made up-start potentates, who build themselves an empire on the sandy foundation of rebellion, and war, and
, falsehood, and robbery, and oppression, and who feel the weakness of their own position, and are afraid to veil the power which they possess by any act of condescension, lest the power itself should be disputed and be snatched from their unworthy hands. Men whose tenure of authority is founded upon grounds like these, are afraid to lay aside their dignity, in ever so small a measure, and for ever so short a time. They cannot afford to stoop. Their rights are too
equivocal. Their honours are too easily called in question to admit of this. But such was not the basis on which the kingdom of the Son of God was built. Had such been the foundation of this power, it would have fallen at the first storm, and been carried away beneath the first flood which bore down against it. No. eternal kingdom. It had stood from ages before ages. It had no beginning and could have no end. It was built upon a rock and was proof against all storms. And He knew this; He thought of this;
. He pondered upon His own glory; He was conscious of His own tranquil and unalterable bliss. Behold that mystery.
II. And now behold another and a greater mystery. “He made Himself of no reputation," Literally, He emptied Himself. Though He was God by right of nature, and though He knew and was aware of His everlasting greatness, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant. The form of God He took not, for that He always had, and of that He. could not divest Himself; but He covered His glory. He took the form of man. He veiled the majesty of His Godhead. He abdicated for a time His throne, and became a servant. He dropped from Heaven to earth, making Himself man for us. Not, of course, that He ceased to be God. He was still essentially the same as He had ever been. But, remaining what He always was, He took to Himself a nature which before He had not, and by so doing, He emptied Himself. This is indeed a mystery. To compare small things
a with great, it was as if one whose house was rich, and full of comforts and luxury should give away all his gold and silver, and strip himself of all his property,
and make himself a poor beggar, by his own act and deed. Or it was as if the sea should empty itself of all its water, and suffer itself to be changed into dry land. Or as if the sun should retire far backwards into unmeasurable depths of space and the remotest fields of ether; ceasing to be known as first and most distinguished among luminary bodies, and to be reverenced by those attendant planets which stand around it, like the satellites of a king's court, and taking its place in some dark corner of the heavens as a star of the lowest magnitude, obscure and contented in obscurity, like a flower which blooms in a desert place where no man comes.
Our Lord's act was an act of the very lowest condescension. To attempt to describe it is to throw away effort and to waste words. God became man. What can we say more than that?
And do not fail to notice that He did this freely, of His own will. He emptied Himself. It was His own deed. He emptied Himself, the Apostle says ; and again afterwards, He humbled Himself. Our Lord's own will moved Him. He abased Himself. No constraint was used. No outward power impelled Him. The impulse came from within. The Father willed, and He willed; two divine wills agreeing together and issuing in one. He took on Him the form of a servant; He stooped to be made in the likeness of men, and to be man indeed, because He loved us and wished to do us good.
But this is not all. This is only the beginning. He went lower far than this. He“ became obedient.” Mark that word, obedient, showing to us, as it does, that man is great in proportion as He respects authority, and strong in proportion as he reverences and yields to law. He became obedient. And to