The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Philippians 2:5-11, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Philippians 2:5-11. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Philippians 2:5-11, Christmas Theology:

  • Christmas should be simple. The humility and poverty of the stable confused with the wealth and indulgence of selfishness and gift giving, the quietness of Bethlehem with the noise of the shopping mall, the seriousness of the incarnation with the silliness of the party spirit and party attitude, the blinking lights compared with the star of heaven.
  • It has become a confusion. The cheap plastic toys mixed with the true gift of the wise men, angels confused with flying reindeer, an ox and an lamb in a stable confused with a red-nosed reindeer.
  • Christmas should be stripped of all of its symbols so that all that is left is the simplicity of God becoming man.  That is the only element in the Christmas seasonal celebration that has in it any lasting power to effect life.  
  • Santa does not give any strength, or peace or comfort or hope or love or promise or confidence for the future. There’s no lasting value in any earthly gift or any earthly sentiment.  All the decorations get packed away, and the fellowship ends when friends & family disperse.
  • All Christmas has to offer is Jesus Christ. But what is it about Christ that gives this hope, joy, comfort and peace? The birth of Christ answers these things.
  • Luke 2:11 says He would “be born a Savior.” Mark 10:45 says the Son of Man has come to save. Luke 19:10, he has come to save. So what is the celebration of the birth of Christ really about? We could approach it from the standpoint of the Old Testament prophets, we could approach it from the standpoint of Mary or Joseph, we could approach it from the standpoint of the angels or the shepherds or even the wise men.
  • But I want us to look at it from the view given by Paul in Philippians 2. These verses teach us that Jesus Christ is God and He is Lord. That’s the theology of Christmas. So what we have before us is 5 points of Christ taking on humanity:

1. Christ’s Sovereign Position:

  • Text – Philippians 2:5-7a
  • Explanation – This is about His person, His nature, His character, His attributes in eternity before He came. Literally, it reads this way, “He being in the form of God.” Being denotes the person’s essential nature, essence, that which is unchangeably true about Him.
  • It describes that part of a person that can’t be changed, therefore, it is essential to Christ’s very existence to always remain the same. We’ve seen this in John’s first letter & Gospel, “In the beginning, was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That is unchangeable.
  • Illustration – “Being in the form of God,” adds another component. That’s the Greek word morphē and it refers to the characteristics of someone. The word “form” doesn’t work very well. The word “form” has the connotation of something on the outside, something changeable. That’s not what this word means. It means the essential, abiding characteristics or attributes that belong to someone.
  • So we start with the fact that Christ Jesus is God, eternally. He possesses all the characteristics that belong to God. Yet, the next phrase in our verse says “He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.
  • Application – The verb “grasped” can mean to seize something, to take hold of it and pull it away, or it can mean to hang onto something, to cling to something.
  • So let’s look at it both ways. Satan wanted equality with God, so equality with God for Lucifer was something to be taken. It was something to be snatched, and he was unsuccessful. Jesus didn’t need to do that. For Him, equality with God was not something He needed to snatch.
  • Conclusion – Secondly, you can interpret it this way, that having equality with God was not something He clung to. He possessed equality with God, but He was willing to let go of it.
  • So willing that verse 7 says, “He emptied Himself” – He emptied Himself. Some people might think He emptied Himself of His deity but He didn’t because He couldn’t. That’s His nature. He remained fully God but He emptied Himself of His divine glory. His glory in this world was veiled until Mount of Transfiguration.
  • Bridge – He even gave up the independent exercise of His own will. He said, “I came not to do my will but the will of Him that sent me…” He gave up His own personal authority. He gave up the use of His omnipotence. Those are the things that He emptied Himself of.
  • So Jesus had all the privileges of being God and He chose to set those privileges aside to serve sinners in the Father’s will. The story of Christmas begins with the Son of God abandoning a sovereign position for a lowly position…

2. Christ’s Position as Slave:

  • Text – Philippians 2:7b
  • Explanation – He came down from being the king of heaven to being a slave. He took off the robes of royalty for a slaves rags. Here we have the word morphē again. He takes on the attributes of a slave. He literally becomes a slave. He came not to be served, but to serve.
  • Application – And how? By giving His life. He didn’t just take an image or model of a slave, He takes on the very attributes, the very characteristics of a slave. He was in total submission to the will of another.
  • Bridge – He was in submission to the will of His Father that He gladly submitted to. He became the slave of God in order to serve us in our greatest need. Which brings us to a third position…

3. Christ’s Position with Sinners:

  • Text – Philippians 2:8a
  • Explanation – He came down as a slave, “Being found in appearance as a man.” He literally became human. This is the mystery of the incarnation. He’s not half God, half man. He’s not all God, masked as a man. He is fully God and fully man. He takes on the likeness.
  • This is how he approached sinful people, “Being found in appearance as a man.” He was made in the likeness of men but He also looked like a man. He also looked like a man. Which is important, okay!
  • Illustration – Jesus didn’t walk around with a halo on His head. He didn’t go around with a glow or float above the ground. He looked like a man. He talked like a man. He acted like a man.
  • Nobody knew that He was God by looking at Him. He didn’t stand out in a crowd. He looked like everybody else looked. And He experienced the things that human beings experience.
  • Application – He worked, learned a trade, became hungry, was thirsty, tired, He became angry, even cried & grieved. He became a man. John the Baptist had to point to Him and say, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” otherwise no one would have recognized Him. Yet, some still didn’t believe it because there was nothing about Him that stood out.
  • Bridge – And after an established ministry, where He raised the dead and cast out demons and healed diseases and fed thousands, they still weren’t sure He was God. Some said His power came from hell. Which brings us to…

4. Christ’s Selfless Position:

  • Text – Philippians 2:8b
  • Explanation – He was selfless! And not only was Jesus selfless in coming down, leaving His sovereign position, taking the position of a slave, and positioning Himself with sinners, but gives Himself – gives His life!
  • The selflessness shows up in the garden when He says, “Father, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not my will but yours be done.” He lived and grow up in this humility! Nobody knew who He was and He was the one who made the universe.
  • Application – He came down, but He didn’t just humble Himself to come into this world and He humbled Himself all the way to death, the excruciating death on the cross. He became obedient, even to the death of the cross. He stooped all the way to die for our sins.
  • Bridge – The death on the cross wasn’t just painful, it was shameful. Deuteronomy 1:23 says, “Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree.” Christ became a curse for us, taking on the wrath of God on our behalf. That’s the selfless position, that’s the humility, that’s the sacrifice! And because of it, we get to see…

5. Christ’s Exalted Position:

  • Text – Philippians 2:9-11
  • Explanation –For what reason? The reason of His submission, the reason of His humiliation, the reason of His obedience to death, the reason for perfectly obeying the Father and accomplishing redemption, God highly exalted Him.
  • God raised Him from the dead, and then God exalted Him to His own right hand and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. What name is that? It’s the name Lord! The name above every name, to which every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. The name at which and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
  • Application – Jesus is Lord. And “if you confess Jesus as Lord with your mouth, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you’ll be saved” Romans 10:9-10. He saves us from hell, from sin, from judgment. That’s the gift, that’s the theology of Christmas!
  • We have the opportunity to call upon the Godman Jesus, to confess His Lordship & salvation! If we confess Him now, we’ll confess Him for all eternity in heaven. Whoever chooses not to confess now, will confess it in bitterness and remorse forever in hell.
  • Conclusion – He is God, He gave Himself away, yet remains God. He is Sovereign Lord, humbled slave, friend of sinners, selfless sacrifice, and exalted Saviour!