“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 made himself nothing, taking the form of aservant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself bybecoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ThereforeGod hashighly exalted him and bestowed on himthe name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ isLord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11
Jesus “made himself nothing.” that phrase jumped out at me.
how could someone make themselves nothing? obviously, jesus wasn’t nothing. He was an actual historical person. He was something, in fact the very “form” of God himself – not form in the sense of outward appearance (which would be the greek word “morphosis”) but form in the sense of the very nature or essence (“morphe”, which is the greek word used here). the word for “a thing to be grasped”, “harpagmos”, can have the meaning of “a prize” to hold, which makes sense given the context of what He was. So at the very least He was God before becoming a man.
so did he cease to be God when he made himself nothing…or when He became the essence of a servant, born in human likeness? there has been much debate over this passage. the word for “nothing” used here is the greek word “kenoo” meaning “to empty.” it seems a word that means that whatever the case it involved choice and action. the context teaches us a lot of what it may mean for Him to have made Himself nothing. 1) if we read what came before this section, Paul had described how we ought to live – how we ought to imitate Christ…giving us a clue to what this “emptying” would look like. v.3 says “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but inhumility count others more significant than yourselves.” it is not that we/Christ are/is nothing, but that we “count”, or consider, others as more important. as i’ve learned from luke 9:23 it looks like disregarding our own personal interests for the sake of another. laying ourselves and our egos down. 2) if we read the section after v. 7 we see that Jesus’ act of humility and pure obedience paradoxically made Him great. for some reason i’ve read this passage in the past as: he humbled himself…SO God exalted Him. but that is not what it says…it says “therefore”…which gives a reason…not necessarily sequence. this makes sense in the sayings of Jesus that those who are least ARE the greatest…not will be. Everyone…myself…and satan himself…wanted to reach for greatness…which is what makes us not God. Jesus laid down his greatness…which points to the fact He is God.
although He rules everything He made himself nothing…for us. this makes Him everything to me.
if God himself, who is everything important and good, laid down Himself….how much more should we, who derive our very existence from Him, lay down our own lives? Especially when Jesus and Paul remind us to follow His example. How can i make myself nothing, consider others as more significant, this day?
thank you Lord that you made yourself nothing for us