When Paul instructed us to have “the mind of Christ” he had something in his mind and in Philippians 2:7 he explained what that was. Jesus did something that we all should ponder seriously if we want to learn to be like 18 kenosisJesus. This verse begins with the main idea of the sentence. It says that Jesus “emptied Himself.” These two words have been the basis of many arguments throughout history. The Greek word for “emptied” is used to form a new English word “kenosis.” Understanding all the theories related to Christ’s Kenosis is extremely complex and I want to be humble when I try to explain exactly what Jesus emptied Himself of.

In his commentary on this passage Jim Wilson says, “I know that you are expecting an answer to the question, ‘what did Jesus empty Himself of’ in this paragraph, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t know. Some questions don’t need to be answered; they just needed to be pondered. Though I don’t know what He gave up to become man—I know that He did it willingly, and I know that one of the reasons I am filled with hope today, is because He emptied Himself then. Take a minute to think about it. God became man and dwelt among us. Knowing what He gave up to do so isn’t as important as knowing that He did it-knowing that He did it for you. And me!”

I’m not real happy with that. I think we can wrestle with the idea biblically a little without being too dogmatic. The second phrase in the sentence says that the way Jesus empties himself was by “taking on the form of a servant.” He even said that of Himself in John 13. To me it means that as God, Jesus came to earth as a servant even though he had the right, the power, and the authority to come to earth as the sovereign Lord of all. Further, Paul adds another way that Jesus emptied Himself and that was by “being born in likeness of men.” Max Anders explains, “He did not come to earth in a human rent-a-body that He used for thirty some years and then discarded, He did not come as the Angel of the Lord, He did not come as some unique celestial being. But He became a man, born of a woman, with a permanent, fully human body. Finally, He humbled Himself and played out the role which God the Father chose for Him.” Max goes on and concludes, “He voluntarily veiled His divine glory, and He did not use some of His attributes some of the time. Instead, He took on human form, humbled Himself to the plan of God the Father, and died on the Cross for our sins. What a beautiful person He is! What kindness! What sacrifice! What unfathomable love!”