Surrender is a bad word today.
Surrender means losing. Quitting. Failing. It evokes images of a soldier “raising the white flag.” Of a boxer” throwing in the towel.” Or a wrestler “Tapping out.”
Surrender is negative. It is yielding to an opponent. Admitting defeat. Or forfeiting the contest.
Jesus, however, came to this earth differently. He viewed life differently. And He died differently. Here’s how the Bible describes Him.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8, NLT)
Look closely at this expression: “He gave up his divine privileges.”
Other versions render this: “He emptied himself.”
“He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
“He made himself nothing.”
“He stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity]”
“Of his own free will he gave up all he had,”
The expression”emptied himself” has given rise to much debate, discussion and even dissension. But surely we can see that Jesus was God who did not hold on to the privileges of Godhood. He surrendered what was rightly his prerogative. He gave up what He enjoyed.
(1) He gave up His favorable position. In heaven there was no temptation. No burden. No guilt. No law to keep. But in coming to earth, he dealt with the human experience. He who never committed a single sin, “was made to be sin in our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
(2) He gave up the riches of heaven. (2 Cor. 8:9) Every comfort. Every pleasure. Every privilege. Even his heavenly glory (John 17:4). He became poor. He owned nothing earthly. Everything he had was borrowed. Beginning with the place of his birth. He had no bed to sleep on. No boat to preach from. No animal ride on. No room of his own to institute the memorial supper. And finally was buried in a borrowed tomb!
(3) He gave up his will. Obviously, he couldn’t give up who He was. As Lenski expressed it, “He never ceased to be the Possessor of the divine nature. “He could not do without his deity in his state of humiliation.… Even in the midst of his death he had to be the mighty God, in order by his death to conquer death”
He did not could not give up His pre-existence. His relationship to the Father. His Sonship. But he surrendered His rights. His independent exercise of power. He came to do the Father’s will. To obey Him. To learn obedience by the things which he suffered (Heb 5:8).
(4) He gave up his life. His final and ultimate act of surrender was witnessed in his death on the cross. He died freely on that Friday. Voluntarily. Humbly. Unselfishly. He surrendered it all. He was God dangling from that old tree like a rag doll. But He didn’t cling to his divinity. He gave it up.
He gave it all up so that He might rise up as a Conqueror. He turned defeat into victory. And surrender into supremacy. And death into life. He gave it all up on Friday, so that we might have it all on Sunday.
He rose up to become our mediator. Intercessor. High Priest. Lord. Savior. King. And Redeemer.
He was physically born of a woman that we might be spiritually born of God.
He gave it up so that we might rise up.
He became poor that we might become rich.
He was made a curse that we might receive a blessing.
He became sin for us that we might obtain salvation.
He came down to earth so we might go up to heaven.
He emptied himself that we might be filled. Fully. Spiritually. Eternally.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman