A Criminal’s Death

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. [Philippians 2:5-8 NLT]

These words break me and inspire me. When I compare my attitude to that of Jesus I find myself severely lacking. It is impossible for us to comprehend what it was like for Christ to lay aside eternity and enter a finite existence. It has been compared to a human being being born as an ant, living as an ant and giving their life so that other ants might live. Yet even that scenario comes up short.

The phrase "he took the humble position of a slave" teaches us what real humility looks like. It is hard for many of us in America to understand what it is like to be a slave. Yet how many of us have worked in jobs that we hated or have suffered in abusive relationships. These images begin to describe the humility of Christ Jesus as he walked amongst us and was lastly condemned to a cruel death.

Who among us would voluntarily die a torturous death for someone else? A fate reserved for criminals and those despised by "civil" people. I find it ironic that the people who should have known better, both religious and secular leaders, acted like criminals in the ways that they treated Jesus. Such is the path of the proud. Yet, in contrast, the humble road always causes us to pick up our cross. How could it not?

Dear Lord. Teach us to walk as slaves. Help us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross.

... this devotion is part of a series about the writings of Paul..

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