“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who … being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:5,8)
Paul, using Christ as a model of humility, says that He “became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
Those words almost sound odd to modern ears. We don’t understand the cross as a sign of humility. It is to us either a sign of victory and hope or a nice decoration to be worn around the neck or hung on walls. We are so far removed from Paul’s world where a cross was anything but decorative.
Certain kinds of death are benign. Someone who dies of a disease or in an accident is considered unfortunate. Some kinds of death can even be considered noble – someone who’s shot (assassinated) may actually increase in stature (posthumously) because of it.
But some kinds of death are shameful – no one wants to die in the electric chair, nor would they want you to know about any relatives who did. This is how Paul’s people looked at the cross. In their world, the cross was reserved for slaves and violent criminals. Everything about it was either torturous or degrading. There was no worse “way to go.”
Jesus did not just give up His life for us. He threw it in the gutter. He accepted the lowest treatment He could possibly receive … for our sakes.
Was the Cross Just?
Ironies of the Cross