November 21 I Saturday
“Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” —Philippians 2:7
In Jesus’s earthly existence, Paul tells us, “[He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…” (Philippians 2:6, ESV). The Greek word for “grasped” is harpagmos, which is a difficult word to understand because this is the only occurrence in all of Scripture. When we think of the word “grasp” we tend to think of seizing something that is not already available to us, such as robbery; however, this is not the meaning of the word here. Harpagmos is better understood as the idea of taking advantage of something. Jesus considered His equality with God something not to be exploited for His benefit; rather, the best expression of His equality with God was to empty Himself and take on the nature of a servant.
There are two Greek words for “servant” in the New Testament. There is one that refers to what we would call, “an employee,” where it is someone who serves others but is free to come and go as they please. The other Greek word for “servant” is doulos. A doulos is what we would understand as “a slave.” A slave is considered the possession of their master. The slave is bound to the master and cannot come and go as they please. When we consider Philippians 2:7, the latter is the term used in the verse, “rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant...”. Jesus came on earth and took on the nature of a doulos.
To be God is to use one’s power and authority to serve creation. We see this in John 13:3 during the Last Supper, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.” But the verses that follow are astonishing as they reveal what Jesus does with the power and authority He has: “So He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round Him” (John 13:4-5). Instead of getting up to rule and demanding servitude, Jesus served His disciples by washing each of their feet. Jesus demonstrated to be God is to be a servant, yet never ceasing to be the one in power and authority.
Jesus always manifested what God is like. Jesus never ceased to be God, but in being God, He embraced a self-emptying service and love expressed towards others. May we express the love of Christ by selflessly serving others for the glory of God.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for demonstrating what it means to embrace self-emptying service and love towards others. May I selflessly serve others as an expression of Your overflowing love in me. Amen!