THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST: HE MADE HIMSELF NOTHING

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:5-8

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7)

We now come to one of the most important and powerful passages in Philippians. The passage deals with the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Our Lord humbled Himself by taking on human nature. Jesus has eternally existed as God. He is fully divine. We must never forget that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He shares in the same essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The opening words of the prologue of the Gospel of John remind us of His divine nature — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1,2).

What follows in our passage is what theologians call the humiliation of Christ. The term speaks of the way Jesus humbled Himself. Notice the downward progression — Jesus “who being in the very nature of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” Though Christ had all the rights and privileges of being God, He did not insist upon them. The way Jesus accomplished salvation for us was to humble Himself and not stand on HIs rights and privileges of being God, but to forego them.

Notice the next downward step — “But made Himself nothing.” Some other translations read, “He emptied Himself.” This did not mean that Christ emptied Himself of His deity. It means that He voluntarily gave up His heavenly glory. He veiled it. Wesley in his hymn “Hark the Herald Angels” wrote — “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity; pleased as man with men to dwell; Jesus our Emmanuel.”

We will continue to unpack this glorious passage in the next few posts. But stop a moment and consider what our Savior has done for us. He did not regard His equality with God something to hold on to. He voluntarily let it go so that He could take upon Himself human nature. Perhaps the words of II Corinthians 8:9 describe it best — “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Lord Jesus, it is difficult for me to grasp what You gave up to become a man. Thank You for loving me so much that you made Yourself nothing so that I could become a child of God. You became poor so that I could become rich.

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