In the beginning, God was there. Before light filled the darkness; before the sun, moon, and stars filled the skies; before trees filled the land and creatures filled the seas—before any and everything ever was—God was already there, seated on His throne.
Then He, who in the beginning was there, came here.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...” (John 1:14a)
Jesus Christ—the Alpha and Omega, the Mighty One, the King of kings, the Ruler of all—left all of heaven’s comforts, majesty, and glory; emptied Himself and made Himself nothing. Meaning:
He took the likeness of a man. Imagine the power of a God whose mere words shake the nations; imagine the vastness of a God for whom the earth is but a footstool; imagine the boundlessness of a God who is always present, who is everywhere. Imagine such a God... in the body of a baby: a little, helpless baby. He who is God became man; He who is invincible became subject to hunger and tiredness and pain. For what reason? That through Him, we, human beings, would have a way to the Father; that we, mere human beings, would become children of God (John 1:12)
He lived the life of a servant. It would be easy to think of the incarnate Jesus Christ in kingly robes, with a throng of slaves following His every move. After all, He was doing the Father and all of humankind a favor. Yet, when Jesus came, He came in all humility and lowliness: in a bed of straw, among cows and their dungs; lived a simple life, even among the poor and sick and outcast. Why? Because He came, not just to become man, but to be the servant of men (Mark 10:45).
He walked the way of the Cross. In His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ blessed the needy, healed the sick, and touched the lepers. But the height of His service can be seen when He received the insults, scorn, and judgment of the very people He was saving; when He surrendered His body to the cruel whips and lashes and blows of Roman soldiers; and when He trod each step to the atrocities of the Cross, to His death. Think about that, the Giver of Life—Life Himself—died, so that all of us, humans, might have life (John 10:10).
In sum, God’s self-emptying is this: Jesus Christ forsook His deity, His kingship, His life—all because He, in His great love, could not forsake us.