Daily Readings & Thought for April 8th. “EVERY TONGUE CONFESS THAT …”
Today’s 2nd chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians contains a meaningful exposition of the relationship between God and Jesus Christ. Verses 5 to 11 need to be read in context to see all the factors in their relationship with each other. Paul tells us Jesus was in “the form of God” – what does he mean?
Paul then says he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” These words lead us to recall the temptation of Jesus when God’s spirit drove him into the wilderness to be tested (Luke 4 v.1-13.) He resisted the temptation to use the unlimited divine power in the wrong way, for he had been given “the Spirit with measure” (John 3 v.34). Jesus came to “serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20 v.28)
Others had “grasped” and suffered for doing so. Think of Adam and Eve, tested as to whether they would obey God, they failed the test they had “grasped” for knowledge hoping to become like God (Genesis 3 v.5) In contrast to them, says Paul, Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross” [v.8]
We recall his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane, agonizing about the sacrifice his Father had appointed for him to make. He said in prayer, “My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26 v.39) Because of this attitude and resultant commitment, says Paul, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [c,9-10]
Does it mean “every tongue? Paul is looking ahead to the ultimate time to come when those granted eternal life will do this. We think of his words in writing to the Romans, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart … you will be saved.” [10 v.9] In his 6th chapter Paul had expressed the meaning and vital role of baptism in this and how, as a result, “we shall be united with him in a resurrection like his.” [v.3-5]
If we fail to confess belief in Christ, that is counted as denial, there is no middle path, We have the blunt words in Mark 16 v.16 “whoever does not believe will be condemned” May we all be among the tongues that confess a genuine belief from our hearts.