Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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He Emptied Himself!

Meditation for the week of April 21, 2013

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

This is a marvelous passage with a marvelous truth that I have just recently grasped.  I have never spoken on this passage in a public meeting because it is a favorite of so many preachers; and when they speak on it, I simply don’t grasp what they are saying.  Saying wrong things about the Lord in this passage seems to be the equivalent of blasphemy in the minds of those who think they understand the passage.  So while I have quoted from the passage many times in worship meetings, I have carefully refrained from expounding its meaning. 

Recently I was in a Bible study where this passage was discussed.  I have to admit I am not quite sure what the conclusion of the majority was with regard to the truth that the Lord made Himself of no reputation (or that He emptied Himself)  because my mind started to wander.  But as my mind wandered, I came to a conclusion in my own mind as to the meaning of the Lord emptying Himself.  This is called meditating which is what these short articles are all about.  Some would call it not paying attention.

I have concluded that the Lord did not empty Himself of His glory, He veiled that.  He did not empty Himself of any of His attributes.  He had all of those as God made known in the flesh.  But what He did when he emptied Himself (or when He made Himself of no reputation), was to give up his rights as God.  He was God, but He didn’t use the rights that gave Him.  That’s what Paul means when He says that the Lord didn’t grasp after equality with God.  He didn’t force people to acknowledge the authority He had as God.  As God He could have called twelve legions of angels to rescue Himself and destroy His enemies.  That was His right and He had that authority as the Son of God.  But instead, He told Peter to put the sword in its sheath.  He was going to submit to the death of the cross.  At the last supper in the upper room, He should have had his feet washed by a servant.  Instead He became the servant and washed the disciples feet.  He was God but instead of requiring His own disciples to treat Him like the God He was, He became the servant to them. 

In summary, I think Paul is saying that the Lord was willing to be a servant and to be treated as a servant even though He was God.  When He emptied Himself, he didn’t use the rights and authority that He had as God.  But He was no less God, just because He didn’t demand the submission on the part of mankind that He could have.  He did not use the power and authority that were His at His first coming.  As a result, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

However, He is coming again.  The next time He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Just because He allowed Himself to be humiliated and crucified at His first coming, doesn’t mean that He will allow that when He comes the second time.  Instead of people mocking Him, they will “wail” or morn or beat their breasts because of Him (Revelation 1:7).

No, His second coming will not be as a humble servant.  It will be as God, as Judge, as King.  He will wield all the power of the Almighty One, the Creator, the Sovereign Lord.  Those who treat the Man of Sorrows with contempt will find out that the One who emptied Himself at His first coming will not do that at His second coming.  He will come in the fullness of His power and authority.  Revelation 6:15-17 gives us a little understanding of what the world could have experienced the first time the Lord came but didn’t.  But the unbelieving, Christ rejecting world will experience this at the Lord’s second coming:

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Bruce Collins

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