Have you ever been asked a tricky question? Recently, when I asked the below question in a poll, the responses came back 50/50. And I’m the first to admit it: it’s a tricky question! How would you answer the question, “Why did God exalt Jesus?”

Because Jesus ____________ (choose one).


In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul writes:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. . . . 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. . . And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. . . .” (Phil 2:3-11 ESV, selected)

Obedience vs Humility

The truth is that for many of us, we can be obedient without being humble. We can appear moral or religious on the outside without surrendering our hearts and will to Jesus as Lord. However, it is impossible to be truly humble before God without also a sincere desire to serve Him in complete obedience.

When Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient,” the condition that led to His exaltation was not His outward obedience, but His inward humility. There is only one active verb in the original Greek, which is “humbled.” Becoming obedient is an adjective in the original text. In other words, obedience, in this case, is what humility looks like. For the Son of God, Creator of life and heaven and earth, becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross—is the ultimate act of humility.

The answer then, to the question, “Why did God the Father exalt Jesus?” is because Jesus humbled Himself.

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12)

This article is adapted from my Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me. If you enjoy deep Bible study, this one is for you! 

“This has been by far the best study for me since the days of Kay Arthur. The truths run deep to my heart . . . and stay.” – Amazon review

Text on image reads Shadia

Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and is author of several books and Bible studies.

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