He Emptied Himself

There are times when I believe western society could not be further removed from what Jesus calls us to be. The call, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”1 rings hollow and cliché. We strive, rather, for advancement, comfort, status, making a name for ourselves. This is not the way of Christ.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
– 2 Corinthians 8-9, ESV

We must resist the urge to see this in merely financial terms. It is true that material wealth is a part of the equation, but by no means is it even close to all of it.

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.
– Philippians 2:5-7, ESV

Jesus emptied himself. ἐκένωσεν. It is the concept of kenosis, self-emptying. It is complex, elusive, astonishing. In Jesus, we find God who became man, “in the form of God,” but choosing not to continue “equal with God.” He considered that equality with God something not “to be grasped” with white-knuckled fists, but rather let it go, emptying himself, becoming a servant in the place of an enthroned king.

It boggles the mind. It makes our heads spin with dizziness. But let’s see if we can’t get just a peek at what this looks like for Jesus.

The enthroned king, leaving behind the seat of theistic royalty, to be born in human flesh and laid in a livestock food trough.2 Throughout his ministry he had no place to lay his head,3 a stone for his pillow.

The King of Creation was so impoverished that he had no money to pay the half-shekel temple tax, having to catch a fish with a coin in its mouth so he could do so.4

In his darkest hour, rather than be surrounded by his rag-tag group of friends as a support group, he was alone in his prayers and pleadings. On his arrest, rather than defend him, his closest friends forsook him and ran for their own safety.5

At his sham trial, Jesus stood alone. No one defended him, and he barely defended himself.

At Golgotha, as Jesus hung on the cross, the soldiers who crucified him took the last of his possessions, his clothing, and gambled to see who would take possession of them.6

Upon his death, there was no tomb for his body. Thus, he was sepulchered in a borrowed tomb.

Jesus was here to give, not to take or collect. He had no mailing address, no home to call his own. He had little money, few possessions. He had no defenders, and not even a tomb in which to lay his dead body. And he lived that way for us.

“Wait,” you might object. “How does any of that have even a thing to do with me?”

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
– 2 Corinthians 8:9, ESV

Everything Jesus did from the time he left his throne in glory was for you! It was for me! He did it that we, through his utter poverty might become “rich.” And not in the sense of cash, cars, and castles. True riches. That we might exist forever with him in absolute glory.

The phrase, “that you might become rich,” has the strong implication that we were (or are) poor, and we were. We were completely, spiritually and morally bankrupt. But through his poverty and our allegiance to him as King, we are rich beyond comprehension. We are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
– Romans 8:16-17, ESV

A glorious future awaits you, Christ-follower. Stay the course. Maintain your allegiance to the King.

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

X – @DamonJGray
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1. 1 Corinthians 11:1
2. Luke 2:12
3. Matthew 8:20
4. Matthew 17:27
5. Matthew 26:56
6. Mark 15:22-24

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Damon J. Gray

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  1. Sandra Zavesky on March 26, 2024 at 5:10 AM

    Thank you. We – I need to see all this truth again & again ALL thru our lives to bring everything back into focus.
    We are drawn back to the center. It is HIS love, that center that keeps us GOING, keeps us seeing victories, keeps us loving?
    No other way & He’s here for us now in THIS life but our FOREVER life to come! Thank you Jesus!!!

    • Damon J. Gray on March 26, 2024 at 2:50 PM

      Hello Sandra, and welcome to the Long-View Living blog comments. I’m so pleased that you have jumped in!

      I’m pleased that the self-emptying article resonated with you. I’ll tell you a secret … that writers and preachers are usually building articles and sermons that WE need to hear! You’re approved here and can comment now any time you wish without being moderated.

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