Who is Jesus? (Part 2): The Obedience of Christ (Philippians 2:8)

Who is Jesus? (Part 2): The Obedience of Christ (Philippians 2:8)


MPT: Jesus was completely obedient to God and that obedience is applied to His people.

MPS: Jesus was obedient in death to save us from the punishment of sin. He was obedient in life to free us from the bondage, brokenness, and fear of sin.

1) Christ was obedient to His Father. (8a)

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient: Jesus is God; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How could such a person be subject to obedience to another? In the economy of God we see that Christ is equal to the Father and Spirit. However, Jesus’s role as Son is such that He is sent by God the Father. Their will is aligned and their nature the same, but in a peculiar way the Bible teaches us that the Father has sent the Son.

we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14) 

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:17)

We see in these two passages along with the one today that God the Father sent the Son for the purpose of redeeming for Himself a people. These people include you and I. These people are what the New Testament call a Church. As Christ was obedient to the Father, the Spirit is obedient to the Father and Son as they send the Spirit to regenerate people and applying the redemptive work of Jesus Christ to the people that the Father has “chose(n) in him before the creation of the world”. (Eph. 1:4)

Now this obedience of Jesus is often referred to both active and passive obedience:

Active obedience is how we refer to Christ’s willingness to do the work that the Father laid out for Him. Christ perfectly kept the Law and obeyed the Father’s call on His life. This work is imputed to us as sons and daughters of God. Christ’s perfect work in His earthly ministry is credited to us and clothing us. It’s as if we were perfectly obedient on account of Christ. All present and future sins have been forgiven due to Christ’s active obedience.

Therefore, all of your disobedience, all of the times where you didn’t quite measure, is covered by the perfect obedience of Christ. You are no longer bound by the expectations of this world. Your identity isn’t found in yourself or your circumstances but in Christ. 

When you look around and see what others are doing and you compare yourself to them you are being unfair to yourself and not living in light of Christ’s active obedience. There is no value or worth in comparing yourself to others. By comparing yourself to others you are rejecting the imputed obedience of Christ to you. You are rejecting your union with Jesus as you long to be measured by the standards of this world. The standards of this world will condemn you, oppress you, and set you in chains.

You have been called out of bondage and set free by Christ’s active obedience. You can freely walk out of that bondage but have allowed yourself to fall into the patterns of the old nature because you’ve yet to fully grasp the strength and freedom of the new.

You’ve been made righteous without the possibility of being made unrighteous, “That is the reason why those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ are in a far more blessed condition than was Adam before he fell. Adam before he fell was righteous in the sight of God, but he was still under the possibility of becoming unrighteous. Those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ not only are righteous in the sight of God but they are beyond the possibility of becoming unrighteous.” (J Gresham Machen)

The second way that we talk about Jesus’ obedience is in the term, 

Passive obedience , which brings us to our next point

2) Christ was obedient to the point of death. (8b)

to the point of death,: This is the work that has saved us from destruction and reconciled us to God. The work in Christ’s death is what frees us from the punishment of sin. We can relate this to Adam our first father by saying that Christ’s death relieves Adam from the consequence of his sin, namely death.

This is the obedience that we often spend the most time discussing. That which saves us from our due punishment. Christ’s death is the payment for our sins. He has been punished on our accord and credited to our account a zero balance. His resurrection affirms this by acting as proof that God has truly accomplished what He has promised.

The passive obedience of Jesus having been applied to us now frees us from all punishment for our present and past sins. Yet when we only view the work of Christ in this manner we lack a full understanding of the work of Christ in which the Scriptures speak of.

Think about it this way, if Christ’s death was the only element of His work that was applied to Adam and to us, then we’d be in the same exact situation that Adam was in before he sinned. Therefore, we’d be forgiven for past sin though we’d be apt to fall again into present and future sin.

So Christ’s total work is given to us when we believe in Him. His obedience not only saves us through His death but frees us from the guilt of disobeying His Law. Why? Because His perfect keeping of the Law has been given to us. In light of this gift we are able to live lives in joyful obedience. We don’t do this so that we can justify ourselves. We do this out of joy and freedom from sin!

By His passive obedience — that is, by suffering in our stead — He paid the penalty for us; by His active obedience — that is, by doing what the law of God required — He has merited for us the reward.” (J. Gresham Machen)

On account of Christ’s passive obedience I can say, “You are forgiven”. On account of Christ’s active obedience I can say, “Go and sin no more”.

3)  Christ was obedient to the point of humiliation. (8c)

even death on a cross.: The manner of Christ’s death is the most gruesome and humiliating of the ancient world. This death was not possible for a Roman citizen because it was below the dignity of their standing as citizens of the most powerful country on earth.

It would be one thing for God to take on flesh and become a man so that He might die for the sins of His people. How great is the love of God that He would subject Himself to the greatest of all humiliating circumstances! 

The author of Hebrews says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) 

It was for His own joy that Christ humiliated Himself so that His people would be redeemed and reconciled to God. God’s love wasn’t reckless for He knew what He was doing and what the results would be. His love is abounding as it encompasses His people completely just as He means  it to.

He was stripped of His clothing; displaying Himself naked for all to see. He was beaten brutally; His blood streaming for the crowds enjoyment. A crown of thorns was thrust upon His head; people mocking Him as king. Nails driven through His hands and feet; His disciples waiting for a miracle as He cried in agony. A spear driven through His side; confirming that death had received its prize.

The greatest among us was made low. The One who was due all glory and honor set it aside for meekness and shame. He who has no beginning or end, was crucified. So that death would be defeated, He died.

This is the manner in which Christ was obedient so that you and I might live. 

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19)


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