" . . but made himself nothing . . " (Phil. 2)
I told you that the girls and I memorized this passage in homeschool. Occasionally, they would be eating their breakfast while we worked. On the morning we got to this particular line, Eastin looked at me quizzically and said, "Did you say he made himself a muffin??" Yes, honey -- blueberry. It's been a family joke with us ever since.
He made himself nothing. Frankly, that sounds like a rather unflattering commentary on humanity. He made himself one of us -- and apparently, we are nothing? One of the first rules of Bible study, however, is to let scripture interpret scripture; so, considering the value awarded to human beings in other passages (e.g. "crowned with glory and honor"), I don't think that's how we should read this.
This is where biblegateway.com comes in handy with its access to a million different translations. The NAS says he "emptied himself", as does Young's Literal Translation. Amplified says, "stripped himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity]". The Contemporary English Version just says, "gave up everything".
Here's a cool one: the Wycliffe New Testament says, "he lowed himself [he meeked himself]". Meeked himself. I love that. Who uses "meek" as a verb? Apparently Mr. Wycliffe.
I was once taught an extensive lesson on the Biblical meaning of the word "meek". It's one of the fruits of the Spirit, meekness. And Jesus said the meek would inherit the earth. In our modern usage, we think of meek people as doormats. But the Biblical implication is actually one of confident strength -- one who is at peace enough with life, the world and himself that he doesn't have to have his way about things. He is able to be submissive; he can give up his rights and privileges for the sake of another.
The words able and can in that last sentence will disturb some people. Because they won't understand why anyone would ever choose to be submissive or give up their rights. These folks are usually very concerned about being free to do what they want. They are not meek. And they are not even really free.
Jesus was free -- he was not a slave to his status of equality with the God of the universe. He had the strength and confidence to be able to let go of that and trust the Father enough to become a human. He gave up everything. He made himself nothing.
Or maybe he just made himself a muffin. Humans get hungry, you know.