Emptied Himself

What the Lord Jesus did to fulfill the eternal covenant of redemption is amazing. His choice to become human, to let go his rights, and to suffer on our behalf is more than we can imagine.

Philippians 2:5–11 – 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Look at what Jesus did. Verse 6 tells us that he did not count equality with God as a thing to be “grasped.” Verse 7 says that Jesus “emptied himself.” Those are huge concepts.

Jesus did not cling to or use to his benefit his equality with God. Though Jesus is God, eternally God, the Savior did not use that status while on earth to make things easy for himself. Instead of demanding his rights and using the power at his disposal, Jesus emptied himself. He did not stop being God. Instead, he simply set aside what he could have done in order to legitimately and really be human as well. Jesus lived as a man to save men from their sins.

Consider one simple picture of Jesus laying down his rights.

Matthew 4:3–4 – 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

“ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Jesus had gone as long as is humanly possible without food. He was hungry, weak, and in desperate need. And the devil came to Jesus to tempt him. The enemy suggested that Jesus no longer be emptied of himself as Philippians 2:7 says. The devil wanted Jesus to cling to his rights and use his power to satisfy his own desire.

But Jesus would not go along with the temptation from the serpent. He would not stop being truly human. Jesus would rest in the word of his Father and the provision from his Father. Jesus would not do things in any way other than the way that was planned by God for eternity.

The Lord Jesus, God the Son, became truly man. Jesus laid down his rights and took upon himself our weaknesses to save our souls. Jesus did not cling to his status as God, even if he never stopped being God. He lived a truly human life so as to truly identify with humanity. In doing so, Jesus fulfilled perfect human righteousness, satisfied the divine demand for perfection, fulfilled the covenant of works, and bought salvation for all the Father sent him to save.

The result of the stunning work of Jesus is that God the Father has exalted Jesus to the highest place. This is Jesus’ rightful place. The Father has lifted Jesus back to where Jesus belongs. And now Jesus reigns as King of kings forever.

At Christmas, we marvel at the child born in a manger. We sing of shepherds and wise men pointing to the promise of God. And this is good. May we also marvel at the infinite step down the Son of God took to become a real human. May we love that he emptied himself of his rights so as to fulfill the human righteousness we could never achieve. May we praise Jesus, the name above every name, the king above every king.