He Made Himself Nothing

The following post includes excerpts taken from Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (edited by Nancy Guthrie)

"The Holy Spirit wants us to understand where Christ came from. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-7, '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 a servant, being born in the likeness of men.'

Coming in the very form or nature of God, Jesus didn't consider equality with God something to be grasped. In other words, instead of holding on to his own uninterrupted glory, he chose to set it aside..."

"If you look again at Philippians 2:7, you notice that there is a comma after 'nothing,' and then you have a verb in the present continuous: he 'made himself nothing, taking...' There is a link here between nothing and taking.

Alec Mattea, a wonderful scholar and friend of mine, suggests that if we ask, what did he empty himself into? rather than, of what did he empty himself? we will be closer to coming to grips with it. It's a fantastic paradox. It's what the Lord Jesus took to himself that humbled him, not what he laid aside. He emptied himself, 'taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.' It was in taking to himself humanity that he became nothing. Of course, for those of us who think that man is the apex of it all, we can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be absolutely excited to be a man. But if you were God? Imagine. To be God and come down a birth canal, to be laid in a manger, to live as an outcast, to die as a stranger, to bear the abuse and curse of the law - it sounds like 'nothing' to me..."

"Jesus did not approach the incarnation asking, 'What's in it for me, what do I get out of it?'" In coming to earth he said, 'I don't matter."

Jesus, you're going to be laid in a manger.

'It doesn't matter.'

Jesus, you will have nowhere to lay your head.

"It doesn't matter"

Jesus, you will be an outcast and a stranger.

"It doesn't matter."

Jesus, they will nail you to a cross and your followers will all desert you.

And Jesus says, "That's okay."

This is what it means. He "made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men."

-Alistair Begg