Jump Start # 2160
Philippians 2:7 “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Our verse today concludes a sentence about Christ coming to earth. The previous verse tells us that He was equal with God. Our verse states that He emptied Himself. The question that many have asked, and wondered is what was it that Jesus emptied Himself of?
Jesus manifested Himself as God on earth. He had the powers of God. He could read the heart and thoughts of others. He could rewrite the word impossible. Multiple food, calm storms, talk to the dead, cast out demons, cure lepers, there was nothing impossible for Jesus. He allowed others to worship Him. Only God is worshipped. He forgave sins. Those that witnessed that declared that only God can forgive sins. He even admitted that if you saw Him, you saw the Father. Jesus was God on earth. So, the empting wasn’t giving up His deity.
God is worshipped in Heaven. God is honored in Heaven. Jesus laid aside this glory and position to become one of us. He was God wrapped in humanity. You and I have done things that Jesus never did in Heaven. We woke up this morning. God doesn’t sleep. We dressed ourselves, got some food, some took medicine, and out the door we go. Sunny for some today. Rainy for others today. It doesn’t rain in Heaven. Traffic, bugs, stress, deadlines, people, frustrations, moments of joy, interruptions—this is our day. This is the day for the doctor, the mechanic, the person working in fast food, the preacher, and the school teacher. By the end of the day, we will be hungry, tired and ready for some quiet time. Jesus never needed that in Heaven.
For Jesus, it got even worse. No one in Heaven ever spit on Jesus. No one would argue with Him. No one would challenge Him. No one would deny Him. But here on planet earth, all of that happened. They said He was the carpenter’s son. His own family thought He was out of His mind. He didn’t have a place to call home. He didn’t travel as a hero, a king or nobility. Most times, He walked. I expect you and I live better than Jesus ever did here on earth. I have a place I call home. I am surrounded with things that I like. Jesus seemed to be on the move most times. To see Jesus on earth, one would not have known that He was God. There was no halo. There was no obvious clothing that made Him standout and look different. There was no golden footprints in the sand. The image of the Pope, with his rings, hat and cape, is not how the Lord would have looked. You wonder how many people passed Him in the streets and never knew. They never knew He was from Heaven. Jesus emptied Himself of the glory that God manifests.
At the transfiguration, when Jesus clothes and face were brilliantly shinning, like the sun, the three disciples with Him got a peak at what God really looks like. For a moment, Jesus pulled the curtain back and revealed His glory. When He returns, it will be in all His glory. People will not mistake who He is when He returns.
Now, the greater question is not what Jesus emptied Himself of, but why? Why couldn’t He have been on earth like a celebrity? Red carpet, ropes holding the crowds back, armed body guards, exclusive suites at hotels, front men who arrange all of the details, professional drivers– Jesus didn’t do any of that. He walked among the crowds. A woman with an issue of blood came up behind Him and touched Him. Try to do that to the President. You’ll be arrested so fast and escorted off to jail. No one touches the President. Rock stars, Hollywood legends, TV stars, they live bigger than life. They live in gated mansions. You’d never run into a superstar at Target. They don’t mingle with the likes of you and I. But for Jesus, it was just the opposite. No hotels. No guards. No superstar status. He dressed, He looked, He traveled, like everyone else.
I cannot connect with a Hollywood superstar. I can’t understand owning an island, having multiple mansions all over the world. I can’t understand not having to stand in line at the airport because I own my own jet. I can’t understand having others who mow the yard for me, cook food for me, and take care of bills, household chores and things like that. That’s not my world. I wonder what they do with all their time. Jesus wasn’t like that. He was like you. His hands showed the signs of hard work. He knew what it was like to be hungry. He knew what it was like to be tired. He knew what it was like to put in an honest days work. He didn’t take short cuts. He didn’t use His positon to get to the front of the line. He was like us.
Being like us, He understands us. He wanted to understand us, so we could understand Him. He suffered things that He never would in Heaven. He put up with things that He never should have. He did all of this to show us obedience. In Heaven, He was equal. On earth, He was the Son. The Son who spoke the words of the Father. The Son who did what the Father wanted. The Son who obeyed. He showed us submission. He illustrated obedience. He worshipped, as we must. He was humble as we are to be. He lived His message. He was tempted, as we are. He was faced with choices as we are. He had to deal with self as we do. He became like us, so we could become like Him.
All of this lead to the cross. This is why He came. He didn’t come and immediately go to the cross. He lived decades on earth. He lived so He could understand. Dirt between your toes. Stains on your clothes. Food stuck between your teeth. He knows. He’s been there. But He also saw sin. He saw hatred. He saw prejudice. He saw malice. He saw disobedience. He saw greed. He saw lust. He saw perversions of God’s truth. He saw men dying without knowing God. He saw men dying in their sins. He saw men choosing sin over God. He died to change all of that. He died to redeem us. He died so we could be with Him.
He allowed Himself to die. He allowed Himself to be buried in a tomb and His soul to go to Hades. It’s where we’ll be someday. He’s already been there. He allowed Himself to be resurrected. The same will happen to us someday. He was the first. He blazed the trail for us. He became poor so that we can become rich. He carried our sins so we could stand pure.
Jesus emptied Himself. This is one of the greatest acts of love. He put you and I before Himself. From this, we ought to believe. We ought to be obedient. We ought to carry His life in our lives.
It is no longer I who live, the apostle said, but Christ lives in me.