By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
“In the flesh” is one very good description of who you are! “Stephen in the flesh!” You have a body that tells others this is you! How will you be known as spirit divorced from body? Will you know others in spirit alone? This is hard to imagine; it is for me. Yet before you receive an eternal body provided by God in heaven, sometime after you depart your first body in dying, you will exist only in spirit, for a time.
The Apostle Paul’s experience of being transported to heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) reveals this was “whether in the body or out of the body, it did not matter.” You will be recognized and known “in spirit, just as though you were “in your body.” Again, I say it is hard to imagine, yet it is so.
“In the flesh” is not alone what defines you. Your spirit, personality, character, mannerisms, mind, and heart all define you, every bit as well, “whether in the body or out of the body.” Again, till you experience such, you cannot truly imagine what this is like.
Of course, when you look at a human body divorced from his or her spirit by death, you know the person you knew and loved so well is gone from you. Reunion is something you yearn for in the future.
Philippians 2 explains that God in Christ is given a body “in human form,” of flesh. When the doctrine of Scripture reveals that God “does not have a body like man,” it speaks of just two persons of the Trinity: the Father God, and the Spirit of God.
But ever since 9 months prior to Christmas Day, in the first century, God the Son took to himself a body like you! Jesus’ love is so great that He weds himself to human flesh to be your Savior and your eternal Mediator, between you and God the Father, forever.
In other words, when Jesus chose to become God incarnate, He wedded himself to flesh for all eternity. This is great news. It confirms your eternal bond to the eternal Triune God. You will never be separated from Him! Jesus’ eternal desire and reality to be joined to human flesh promises and guarantees your salvation and existence forever.
These are things to think deeply about, for you can see the enormous love of Jesus to become your Redeemer in choosing to become man. He left the courts of heaven and took on our flesh, that He might always be the bridge to God and to eternal life. “No man comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Philippians 2:1–11 is such a majestic description of the amazing love of Christ, seen in the actions he chose to take, that you might have an eternal home. This is a satisfaction in which you can truly find rest—your heart’s desire!
“He left His Father’s throne above (so free, so infinite his grace!), humbled Himself (so great his love!), and bled for Adam’s helpless race. ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me. Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
(3rd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” 1738)