Reading: Philippians 2
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
You must know that I still have never regretted for a moment my return in 1939, nor anything which then followed. It all happened in full daylight and with good conscience. The fact that I sit here now [in prison] I reckon also as participation in the fate of Germany, to which I committed myself.
Prison letter to his close friend and confidant, Eberhard Bethge
Christ’s time of passion begins not with Holy Week but with the first day of his preaching. His renunciation of the empire as a kingdom of this world takes place not at Golgotha but at the very beginning. And our story is supposed to give expression to this idea (Luke 4:5-8). Jesus could have been Lord of this world. As the Messiah the Jews had dreamed of, he could have freed Israel and led it to fame and honour. He is a remarkable man, who is offered dominion over the world even before the beginning of his ministry. And it is even more remarkable that he turns down this offer. . . .
He knows that for this dominion he would have to pay a price that is too high for him. It would come at the cost of obedience to God’s will. . . . He remains the free Son of God and recognises the devil, who wants to enslave him. "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him" (Luke 4:8). Jesus knows what that means. It means lowliness, abuse, persecution. It means remaining misunderstood. It means hate, death, the cross. And he chooses this way from the beginning. It is the way of obedience and the way of freedom, for it is the way of God. And therefore it is also the way of love for human beings.