What does empty mean in a culture that loves full?
We are about to take the last part of our journey. Everything we review in the next days moves us to the cross and the humbling truth that Jesus made this journey for us. But please don’t view it in the impersonal plural. This week was for you, premeditated in God’s great mercy, permitted by God’s unfailing love, and perpetrated by an eternal plan that spared nothing to provide you with the only way into eternal life.
Don’t make these last days about a historical review. Don’t let head knowledge replace heart knowledge.
The Christ-hymn in Philippians prepares us for this arduous part of our journey. How we respond to this passage tests whether we simply scream against the injustice of Jesus’ treatment or we let God take us deeper into an outrageous love for us that death could not silence.
We deplore senseless death anywhere it occurs, but we don’t know what to do with surrender to it. Jesus was not a pawn in the Jewish Sanhedrin’s plot to silence him. As Charles Wesley said in his hymn “And Can it Be?” Jesus emptied himself. Judas didn’t do it. The Roman government didn’t do it. The crowd didn’t do it. Jesus emptied himself of any right to retrial, defense, postponement, or release. And he did it for you and me.
It is an uncomfortable truth that at the center of this week, you and I must stand before the cross to see agonizing love for you and me. We must realize that every willful push that placed what we wanted above what God wants is why Jesus emptied himself. It is there that Jesus makes his irresistible plea for our life.
In this way, Jesus becomes our advocate and defender, not the plaintiff and certainly not the victim. He knows what he is doing, and he does it willingly.
We don’t like empty. Something in us pushes to keep empty spaces filled. However, without emptying our life of what keeps Christ and his full resources out, we live empty of an abundance we can’t have any other way.
What must you and I empty in order to stand before the cross? That’s what we must do before we can celebrate the full meaning of Easter.
Scripture to guide your way to the cross . . .
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, Philippians 2:5-7
In the next verses we learn that this “same mind” must include servanthood, humility, and obedience. What do you need to empty so that Christ can grow more of these characteristics in you?