Gladly Become Less than Nothingness

Lent 6 Wednesday

Philippians 2:5-9

“Have the same mind Jesus Christ had: He, although he was in divine form, did not consider equality with God plunder, but emptied himself and took on the form of a servant, having come into the likeness of man, and was found in the form of a man. He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. This is also why God has exalted him.”


Christ also humbled or lowered himself, that is, in addition to proving the servant form by becoming like a man and conducting himself like a man, he went beyond this by becoming less than all men, lowered himself, and served all men by providing the greatest service: He gave his body and life for us. By doing so, he subjected himself not only to men, but also to sin, death, and the devil, and bore all this for us. Additionally, he suffered the most shameful death, that on the cross, not as a man, but as a worm, Psalm 22:6 – in fact, as an arch-knave above all knaves. … But all this he did not because we were worthy of it or had deserved it. For who would be worthy of such a service by such a person? Rather, he did it to become obedient to the Father. Here St. Paul unlocks heaven by a single word and allows us to look into the abyss of the divine majesty and behold the ineffable gracious will and love of the Fatherly heart toward us so that we feel that what Christ, that glorious person, should do – and now has done – for us was God’s good pleasure from eternity. Whose heart should not melt for joy here? Who should not love, praise, and give thanks? Who should not only become a servant of the whole world in return, but also gladly become less than nothingness, since he sees that God meant him in such a precious way, pouring out and demonstrating his Fatherly will in his Son’s obedience in such a rich manner. Oh what words are these that St. Paul speaks in this place and nowhere else; he must have been quite ardent, joyful, and willing. I think this is what it means to come to the Father by Christ. This is what it means that no one comes to Christ unless Christ draws or entices him in such a fitting, sweet, and lovely manner. Oh how many preachers of the faith are there now who think they know it all, but have not smelled or tasted anything of these matters! Oh how quickly do they become teachers who have never become students! They do not taste it; this is why they cannot serve it. They remain useless babblers. Now, just as Christ, in obedience to God and in our service, became the lowliest of all and servant of all devils, so God also exalted him to be Lord over all angels and creatures, death, devil, and hell. Now he has completely emptied himself of the servant form and put it off. Now he not only remains in divine form, but is also glorified, praised, preached, confessed, honored, and held as a God. To be sure, all this has not become visible yet what St. Paul says, that all things are subject to him, 1 Corinthians 15:27. Still, it is true that he, for his person, is exalted in such a way and is enthroned in plenary might and power that his will is done in heaven and on earth, even though few believe that all this happens for the sake of Christ Jesus. The “happening” takes place freely, just as the Lord also is enthroned there freely. But our eyes are still blind and dark; they do not see that it is he and that all things obey him. But this will become apparent on the Last Day. They we will see what already now is going on: Christ emptied himself of the divine form, became like a man, etc., and that he also put off the servant form and became like a God, also that he, as a God, was found with glory, as a Lord over life and death, and a King of all glory, etc. Let this be enough about this text. For we have said elsewhere how we are to put off our glorious form and serve others thereby. For God wants us to become one another’s servants with our body, possessions, honor, spirit and soul, as his Son did for us.


St. Louis ed., 12:475-477.

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