PHIL, ii. 8. “And became obedient unto death”
THERE lies a distinction, entirely borne out in the original,
in that word “became.” It is not Christ was obedient
unto death, but He “became obedient,” which teaches us
that in His human nature He grew in obedience, and in
His life we are permitted to see the growth.
This progressive character of our Lord’s submission is a
thought of exceeding comfort. He Himself can sympa-
thise with us in the often painful growth of our obedience.
We little conceive all that went to make that “became.”
These words of the text do not mean obedient to the
kind of death, but obedient to the extent of dying, stopping
not short of obedience’s latest boundary.
What is “obedience to the death”?
1. Self must be crucified. Our great pattern had no self.
Accept the discipline of life as opportunities of killing self.
2. Besetting sin must be crucified. To a certain extent
sin is battled with, but as long as there is life in the sin it
is not enough. There must be “death.” Standing before
the cross of Christ, ask the question, Is there anything
living in me which made Him die?
3. Taking rightly the deaths of those we love. When
God’s command has gone forth that that spirit should
return to Him, dutifully and unquestioningly obey. There
is great comfort in the simple act of obedience.
4. Willingness to die. Make death an act of obedience.
Christ did this, and it contributed greatly to the dignity
and grandeur of His dying. Familiarise yourself with
death, as with any plain duty which has to be done and
must be done well. The secret of St. Paul’s contentment
with all things was a life held loose—a life always in the
hand. Christ’s whole life was a constant preparation and
a mounting up to death. Even that closing scene of horror
came to Him as a thing often rehearsed before.
We do not know what it will be to die, nor how it is
to glorify God, but this we know, that death is only one
act in a long series of obediences, and that they who
live best in the commandments, will die best upon the
James Vaughan, M.A.