Philippians 2:5–11 (NRSV)
Verse 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, Verse 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, Verse 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, Verse 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. Verse 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, Verse 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, Verse 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Martin Luther loved to compare our relationship with Christ to a marriage. He suggested that we picture Jesus as the bridegroom who falls in love with an unfaithful bride (us!). We know that when two people get married they share debts and assets as well as sorrows and joys.
So picture the scene of this absurd wedding: Christ takes us, a most unlovely and implausible spouse, and in the marriage of faith shares with us his love, forgiveness, and complete acceptance. He actually gives us these gifts! And we in turn give to him our fear, resentments, and guilt. All that we give him sends him to the cross, where he dies our death. Luther called this the “happy exchange.” Others have labeled it the “sweet swap.” We almost lack the right words to describe this deep and wondrous and costly love that holds this couple together. Perhaps it is better to just take a knee and bow, as Paul suggests in verse 10 of our text.
Lord Jesus, you have taken us, the loveless ones, to be your very own. May that love create in us minds and hearts to serve you and your world. Amen.