Thank God Jesus was Empty

Elizabeth Wang - Even in the Darkness
Even in the darkness of our suffering Jesus comforts us and guides us
by Elizabeth Wang

I am one of “those people” who, among the novels and literature scattered around my reading piles, usually has a commentary or theology book near my bedside table.  When the mood strikes, I read a chapter and put it back down – sometimes for a day, sometimes for a month.

One book through which I am slowly making my way is Clark Pinnock’s Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit.  I recently have been residing in his chapter on Spirit Christology, and find it particularly captivating.  It is deeply challenging my understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, and in my life.

Jesus was totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.  According to Philippians 2, in his Incarnation Jesus emptied himself completely.  He was always ontologically the Son of God (his identity as the Son of God never changed), thus fully God, but he emptied himself of all divine rights, power, and glory.  He lived his life on earth completely dependent on the Spirit’s anointing and empowering.

Again and again Jesus says he can do nothing on his own. It was the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father at Christ’s baptism, who anointed him, empowered him, gave him the resources to overcome temptation, and guided him moment by moment.  The Holy Spirit gave him wisdom, knowledge, courage, and strength to walk the path to the Cross, and then raised him from the dead.

Because Jesus in becoming human fully emptied himself of functional divinity (as mentioned, he was still divine in identity), the ministry of Jesus on earth was a joint operation of Son and Spirit, sent by the Father, to bring God’s kingdom near.

This is earth shattering (to me).

Why? Because it tells me that all that gave Jesus strength, life, power, wisdom, and courage for life and ministry on earth – the Holy Spirit – is also available to me, Christ’s follower.  Because he emptied himself of divine power and lived totally dependent on the Spirit, he gave me a model and example of how I am supposed to live.

Jesus never depended on himself – he was truly “poor in spirit” (but not poor in Spirit!).   Although God himself in identity, he depended on God for everything functionally.

Jesus acted vicariously on my behalf not only in dying on the Cross, but also in living a life dependent on the Spirit and in his resurrection.  The humanity of Christ was a comprehensive victory on my behalf.

Clark Pinnock says it well:

…the Father gave the Spirit to the Son, that he might complete a representative journey on our behalf.  The Risen One now gives us the Spirit, which had previously been given to him, in order to bring us along with him on the journey that leads to God.

May we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, join our Trailblazer on that journey to the heart of God.


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