“…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Kenosis in Greek means, “to empty and to deprive.” The word captures the breadth and depth of the sacrifice of the Son of God so He could save us from sin. Although controversial, but it is nonetheless, paradoxical. When Apostle Paul described Jesus “emptying” himself, it seemed to appear that there was something in Jesus Christ that somehow had ceased or lessened.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The idea of kenosis is not subtraction or cessation, but addition. The Son of God never stopped being God’s Son just because He took on humanity. The Savior, as Hebrews declares, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8). But in His self-emptying, Jesus “took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.” Hence, Jesus is both God for the being God’s Son and man for being a son of man.
But knowing theologically the idea of kenosis is far easier than living and practicing its principle. Anyone under the teaching of God’s appointed teachers is blessed to be taught rightly about it. But living it, that practice of “emptying” oneself and taking a lowly position to be able to serve others? That is where we ought to have more grace and discipline. Pride is all too common sickness nowadays. God’s people must inoculate ourselves with Christ-like humility and righteous suffering if we are to prevent this malaise of selfishness from bringing us down.
When Christ emptied himself by taking on the nature of a bond-servant, the lowliest among servants, He did it with unflinching intentionality. He knew that’s the only way for Him to have a taste of that mortal experience, called death. Christ Jesus became a man so that he could “give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
Every believer must seek to have a “kenosis” mindset and lifestyle. We must know how to “consider others more important” than ourselves and to seek only to fulfill our self interests, but also “the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). In this way, God’s kingdom will be built stronger and our cause will advance faster.