‘Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.’ (Philippians 2:5–8 NRSV)
Reflecting on the kenosis of God we now turn to the Son’s emptying and self-giving for the sake of humanity; which took place both in his coming to earth and in his death on the cross.
The self-humiliation of God is perfected, and completely fulfilled, in the incarnation of the Son, as God permits an existence different from his own by limiting himself. He withdraws his omnipotence in order to free humankind.
This kenosis is realised on the cross as God identifies himself with humanity to the point of death.
In the early Christological hymn in Philippians 2, Paul says that as Christ already possessed equality with God, he had the nature of the godhead, which was one of giving not getting. Thus he chose the path that led to incarnation and death.
The Amplified Bible renders verse 6 as,
‘who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]’.
The meaning here is precisely because he was who he was in the form of God he didn’t consider this equality something to hold on to. What Paul is conveying is that because Jesus is God he had this attitude of self-giving for the sake of others.
Jesus had such an attitude of self-giving that he emptied himself by becoming human and continued to empty himself all the way to the point of a humiliating death on the cross for us.
This is how Jesus described his mission of self-giving,
‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10:45)
Jesus beautifully demonstrated his readiness to serve in the incident of the foot-washing described in John 13:1–15 and proved that he loved humanity to the fullest extent possible by giving up his life for us all.
At great cost the one who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could be reconciled to the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18–21).
The Son emptied himself in order to serve us, now we are to take this message of reconciliation to the world (vv.11-16) as his ambassadors (v.20).
Father, thank you for Jesus. There is no greater love than to lay down his life for us. This is how we know that you truly love us and that we are accepted by you.
Have a good week sharing the message.