18. Kenosis

The sacrifice of Lord Jesus at the cross is the center of His entire work of salvation. One of the amazing Christ’s characters that enabled the cross happening in His life is the willingness to release His rights. Believers should follow such life attitude. The willingness to lose his rights refers to a heart attitude that is willing not to use his possession for his own benefit. This means someone who is willing to lose his rights is the one who gives his own part to other people, for the sake of God the Father’s work and fulfillment of His plan. Such willingness is shown by Lord Jesus Christ through the process of emptying Himself. In Philippians 2:7 it is written that Lord Jesus Christ had emptied Himself, in the original text the sentence “had emptied Himself” is a translation of heauton ekenosen (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν). From this word it is then developed the concept of self emptying of Jesus (kenosis). The word heauton, which is translated as “Himself”, emphasizes that Lord Jesus Himself had taken an action, not by other person or because of other person. While the word ekenosen came from its root kenoo (κενόω), which means to make empty, to abase, to neutralize. In a clearer view, the word kenoio means no reputation (to make oneself worthless). Jesus Christ has made Himself of no reputation. From this ekenosen word, the theory of kenosis was built, which is the essence of willingness to lose rights.

Lord Jesus is God Himself who certainly has all the glory, power and honor as God the Most High. The willingness to leave His glorious throne equals to willingness to lose all of His rights. In the life history of Lord Jesus on earthwhen He wore the flesh body (Greek. sarkos), He went through a life that was filled with both physical and psychological hardships, all of those is an expression of willingness to lose His rights. Lord Jesus was humiliated among man, this shows His willingness to lose honor. When Mary was found to be pregnant, Joseph her fiancée assumed that her pregnancy was a disgrace. That is why Joseph intended to divorce her privately.1 This means an accusation directed  to baby Jesus as an “illegitimate child”. From this matter, the Son of God that would have been born – as part of His incarnation process – has no dignity, while He is the most honorable person. Of course this process has been known by God prior to His incarnation.

In His life journey for three and a h alf years, Lord Jesus has also lost His reputation in the eyes of most Jews. One day Jesus was accused as out of his mind,2 also he was accused to use the power of Beelzebul in casting out demons.3 With that accusation, Lord Jesus had been blasphemed to be possessed by evil spirit. His reputation in front of man was totally destroyed when He was summoned to Pilate, the high priest and Herod.4  The people of Jerusalem devastatingly yelled for His crucifixion. He was finally crucified for the accusation of being a blasphemer and provoking the people against Caesar. He was crucified by public opinion as a great criminal and viewed as being cursed.5 In this case, it is clear that Jesus was willing to lose all His glory for a moment. Lord Jesus truly surrendered His reputation, dignity and prestige. In one conversation Jesus said: “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as One who serves”. From this statement Jesus clearly showed that He was willing to lose all His honorable rights as God who came from the Highest Heaven. His excellence as God the Most High did not restrain Him from humbling Himself. He was truly willing to lose rights to be honored. This is the self-death  that Lord Jesus has shown us as an example.

1)  Matthew 1:18-19;   2) Mark 3:21;   3) Luke 11:15;   4) Matthew 26:48-68;   5) Galatians 3:13.

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