Have This Mind in You which Is Yours in Christ Jesus
Today we come to one of the loftiest passages of Scripture concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of its literary features, scholars generally agree that this is an ancient church hymn which the Apostle inserted into his letter, much as we might do writing a letter to comfort a grieving brother or sister in Christ by reminding them of some lines from a cherished hymn. Only this hymn goes beyond any hymn I can think of. It speaks not at all of man or even of the blessings we receive through Christ Jesus; this hymn is completely bound up in adoration of Christ, who he is and what he has done.
Verse five introduces the hymn and says something that I think is quite wonderful: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” It’s that last phrase that captures me. Paul seems to be saying that believers have this mind or way of thinking granted to them by virtue of being united with Christ through faith and have only to put it to use. We have so many blessings given us by Christ through the Holy Spirit which we neglect, and this is one of them—to think along with Jesus.
The hymn then explains to us who Christ is: The one who is in the “form of God.” “Form” in this sense does not simply mean “appearance” or “shape” but what we find in Hebrews 1:3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature.” This is who he is according to his divine nature. But what more does Christ (the Son) do? He seeks not as Adam to grasp at divinity to which Adam had no claim, but in starkest contrast being divine chose instead to take upon himself human form. This is all to speak of his Incarnation when the Son assumed the humanity, flesh, and blood of the Virgin prepared by the Holy Spirit. But the hymn does not stop there but goes on to speak of his further humiliation by death on a cross—and all out of obedience to the One who sent him. And thus far in this brief rendition of this ancient hymn, we are taught of his divine nature which he ever had with the Father, his humbling himself to take human form and thus add our humanity to his divinity in his Incarnation, and then his death on our behalf. The hymn ends with his exaltation, and rightly so. He has been lifted by the Father to His right hand (Acts 2:33) where he shall be rightly glorified by all, that “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” that is, without exception. And all of this is done “to the glory of God the Father.” This hymn is all about the glory of God—and those are the best ones.