Passage of the Day: Philippians 2: 7a [ NIV - see highlight passage in bold/underlined] … 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 … but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Philippians 2: 7a [NASB] … 7 … but [Christ] emptied Himself, …
Philippians 2: 7a [NKJV & KJV] … 7 … but made Himself of no reputation, …
Philippians 2: 7a [ESV] … 7 … but [Christ] made Himself nothing, …
Philippians 2: 7a [The Message] … 7 When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity …
My Journal for Today: Today I (we) return to the theological doctrine of Christ’s “kenosis,” by focusing on this one short phrase in Phil. 2: 7a; and when looking at a short phrase of Scripture like this, sometimes it helps to use tapestry of the Scripture weaved by looking at several versions of God’s word in the one passage. In this case I’ve provided four reputable/scholarly translations as well as Peterson’s popular paraphrased rendering, The Message.
And as we began discussing this topic yesterday, we see the extent of Christ humility as He set aside – BY CHOICE – His infinitely powerful glory and His oneness in the Trinity to become a man. As we read in The Message version, Peterson says, “… He (Christ) set aside the privileges of deity.” And this is helpful in understanding that Christ did not set aside His deity. No, He voluntarily became human; and in doing so, He had to “empty Himself” of His majesty (that’s the Greek term “kenoo,” we introduced in my journal yesterday, from which we get our theological term for the doctrine of “kenosis.”)
It may be a rather anemic word picture to describe this wondrous process of Christ’s kenosis; but it might be seen in human terms if Bill Gates disguised Himself in some way so as not to be recognized and decided to go in among the worker bees at Microsoft and work as a new programmer, setting aside his privileges as CEO. He would still be the CEO; but as long as he was not recognized as Bill Gates; and set aside the power of his position, to practice the function of an in-the-trenches programmer, he could be identified and function as a Microsoft staff worker. However, at any time he desired he could step back into the role of CEO and become the Top Dog at Microsoft again.
Yes, I know that comparing Bill Gates to Jesus Christ is about as ludicrous as it gets; but I hope you see that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, intentionally chose to humble Himself, not being recognized as God in the flesh until He decided to begin to reveal the essence of His deity to His disciples and followers in the later years of His earthly ministry. And over time we see Christ, during His ministry walk on this earth, taking on some of the POSITIONhood of God as well as the Godly PERSONhood as He followed the Father, utilizing the power of His Spirit, and performing many miracles, i.e., … doing things that a mere man could never imagine being done. These selective actions and miracle revealed Whom He claimed he really was … the God-man.
Jesus, becoming the Messiah and a man, gave up His independent authority in the Godhead, completely being submitted to the will of the Father – as a human - and becoming a bond servant for mankind (see Phil. 2: 8 above as well as Matt. 26: 39). In this self-chosen position as bond servant to God the Father, Jesus only exercised the power of His Deity when God, the Father, required it or when it was necessary, utilizing the power of the Holy Spirit to highlight Whom He was as the Son of God. We see this in reality (in Matt. 24: 36) when Jesus was not able to say when His second coming would occur, indicating that only God, the Father, knew that.
Not only did Jesus empty Himself of authority in the Godhead; but He also set aside His access to His personal riches (see 2nd Cor. 8: 9), becoming poor as a man so that mankind might become rich with Him forever in glory.
Finally, and this is the most touching of all the losses Christ incurred in His kenosis; He left behind His favored and glorified relationship in the Trinity to become a man who would become hated, spat upon, and crucified. We read of this horrible voluntary loss in Christ’s own words from the cross, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (see Matt. 27: 46) And all of that, He did for me (and for you).
No, I don’t think we will ever truly comprehend Christ’s loss as He emptied Himself; but because of it, we had the God-Man on earth to be written about in God’s word and so that we might be able to see more clearly than ever the character and person of God walking in our midst. And because of that, mankind can come to know Him in faith and to receive His saving grace for eternal life with Him. And to that all this one can say is, … “HALLELUJAH!!!”
But there’s more … stay tuned!
My Prayer Today: Lord, You emptied Yourself that I might be filled in You. Again I say loudly in my spirit this morning … “HALLELUJAH!!!” … and … Amen