The story is told about a famous SEC football coach, who was on vacation with his family in a remote area of the Northwest.
One night they decided to go into the little town to see a movie. When they walked into a theater and sat down, the handful of people applauded. Proudly he thought to himself, “I can’t believe it. People recognize me all the way up here.”
Quickly a smiling man came over to him and said, “Thanks for coming! They won’t start the movie for less than ten people!”
Humility is a difficult quality to develop. But Jesus is our perfect example. Paul put it this way:
“Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:6-9, NASU)
Barclay says the Greek word, kenooo, means, “literally to empty. It can be used to remove things from a container, until the container is empty; or pouring something out, until there is nothing left.”
This word vividly conveys to us the sacrifice of Jesus’ incarnation. Think about it.
(1) He emptied Himself of His heavenly riches. He gave up the peace of his existence. The serenity of divine association. And the tranquility of his surroundings. He lived as man. Without a home. Creature comforts. Or material possessions. The Bible says, “ that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
(2) He emptied Himself of His celestial glory. As God he enjoyed honor, favor, and angelic praise. Jesus’ human existence was anything but glorious. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11).
He was despised. Rejected. Ridiculed. And reviled.
(3) He emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives. Paul is clear. Jesus was Deity. He didn’t have to put up with the Devil’s temptations, human frailties, or His enemies schemes. He willingly denied himself of the privileges of Godhood for struggles of manhood.
When Jesus was born he vacated heaven for a stable. As an infant, his family was on the run because of death threats. He grew up in obscurity. And lived in an ill-regarded, contemptuous little town. His itinerant ministry was not well-financed. His entourage was not the elite of the day, but smelly fisherman. Disliked tax collectors. Rogue zealots. And a few women, whose character some questioned!
But Jesus’ ultimate act of a self emptying life was evidenced in his death. The sinless Son of God was condemned as a criminal. Mocked. Slapped. And spit upon during a kangaroo-court of a trial. Stripped of his clothes and brutally beaten.
Then forced to carry his own cross to Calvary’s hill of execution. Along the route the crowd jeered. Scoffed. Ridiculed. And even on the cross, he was accosted and disrespected by a real criminal!
Yes, he emptied himself, even to the point of death, the death of the cross.
But that was Friday. And what the folks didn’t realize, Sunday was coming! And the insignificant Jewish teacher they discarded and dismissed, would become a victor! The One who emptied himself, would be exalted. The glory that he relinquished would now be restored. And the privileges that he abandoned would be renewed. And His lowly name would now be elevated.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
And so, Sunday, I’ll join fellow worshippers to exalt Him, who emptied himself. And seek to emulate his attitude and follow his example.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman