A Look At The Kenosis Of Christ
Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] (6) Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, (7) But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being (Philippians 2:5-7 Amplified).
Bible scholars call this passage the “kenosis” of Christ. The Greek Word Kenoo is used here to describe Jesus emptying Himself of the power of His office as the second member of the Trinity. Jesus didn’t empty Himself of His Deity, but separated Himself from His Divine power. He chose to live as we do, by the power of the Holy Spirit and in dependence upon the Word of God. That’s the reason He said in John 14:12 (NLT): I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
Let this sink in for a moment. Jesus the Christ, the second member of the Trinity, Who has always been and will always be, Who created the universe with His words, by Whom all things exist, Who created the earth and all things therein, Who formed the human body from dirt, loved us so very much that He made a choice to leave His Kingdom over which He reigns as the ultimate Sovereign, and live for a bit over 33 years in a body He created, and face life in a sin cursed, dark, devil inhabited world.
Jesus did not have to humble Himself, but His love for you drove Him to the ultimate sacrifice, His life in exchange for yours. For Christ to do this took more humility and selflessness that I can understand. He endured every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day for over thirty three years, subjected to all the laws of nature as He created them. He chose to live within His creation.
To do this, He laid all of His God-ability aside, not His Deity, but the power that He has as being the Originator of all things. His All Knowing called Omniscience, His All Power called Omnipotence as well as all of His God attributes, He laid aside temporarily, and chose to grow up into human manhood. He chose to wait until He was fully mature before revealing His Deity to the world at age thirty. Until then, He lived within His creation in relative obscurity.
There is no way to describe with words that kind of humility. Kenosis. Emptying out. Utter self-abasement. All because of love for you and me. When you understand the depths of Jesus’ humility, it leaves you speechless.
Now maybe we can understand Jesus’ emphasis on telling us that we must deny ourselves, tke up our personal cross, and follow Him. Perhaps Paul’s statement takes on a new meaning :I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, and yet not I, but Christ lives in me.
Here’s a probing question we all need to ask ourselves. Am I willing to give up my right to live the way I want to, and deny my self interests and follow Christ?
Self-assertion, self-exaltation, self-energy, self-promotion, self-pleasing and self consciousness are byproducts of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God and have become inherent in human life ever since. Though through the new birth old things pass away and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17), the residue of self-centered thinking and living remains a strong force in the life of a believer.
To put it simply, my biggest problem after salvation is self-centered, independent of the God living. My biggest task is getting me out of the way and letting God have His total way in my life!
Jesus gave us an example of how to put down the tendency towards self-exaltation. He came as a servant, humbled Himself and chose the low road in life. He did this to show us that we can live a life of total submission of the flesh to the will of the Father. We can have the attitude of a servant. We can put ourselves last and put God’s will and others needs first.
Jesus provided redemption from sin for you and me, and an example of how to live a humble, God-submitted life in a fallen, self-aggrandizing world.
Take some time to think about this today. Life is no longer about me, it’s about doing the will of the Father, and pleasing Him in all things. This will take a lot of soul searching, and some times of deep confession of self-centeredness. It will take allowing God our Father to place us in circumstances that we don’t like, doing things we would rather not do, with people we may not care to associate with. Maybe that’s where you are right now. And maybe, just maybe, God is seeking to help you let go of pride and independence, to help you put others first, and to help you learn to deny yourself.
Again, as we read in Philippians 2:5: Let this same attitude and purpose and humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: Let Him be your example in humility.