We call it "Good Friday" because it is so very good for us. We drew the long straw out of the deal. We get to focus on what the cross means for us instead of what it meant for him. Some of us lucky ones even get a day off work or school.
But it wasn't that great of a Friday for him. In fact, it was pretty terrible. Hands down the darkest day in history for any one man to endure. We exuberantly celebrate the cross because of the victory it brings us, but it was so very unglamorous for him.
He made himself nothing. These words have been ruminating in my thoughts lately, today especially. The longing for significance is real, you guys. Don't we all, to some extent, have a desire to be important? To be needed. The church is no different. We all want to serve, but how many of us are hoping our service gets noticed?
I'll admit, it's been a struggle my entire life to want to be important. I want what I do, who I am, to be valued. I've always craved leadership. In high school, if there was a club, I ran for its presidency. (True story, I was Spanish club president, and I can't speak a lick of the language. I just like picking the Mexican restaurant where we held meetings.) If there was an award, I went after it. If there was a spot on a team, I wanted to be number one. In college, if there was a scholarship or a Dean's List, I wanted it. I was never satisfied just being a part of the team; I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to inspire and lead people, and I fed off the significance I felt in such positions. This drivenness continued throughout my post-college career, and has even carried over into motherhood and church ministry. To me, I wasn't loved if I wasn't leading.
But in the past year or so, the Lord has really woven these words deep into my soul, replacing my strong desire for significance with a desperation to be like Jesus. Jesus was not all that popular. He certainly wasn't in the in-crowd. He wasn't the Whos Who of the church. He offended its leaders with his radical theology. He wasn't rich and successful; he didn't hold an enviable career. He was counter-cultural. He attracted the misfits. He made himself nothing.
Jesus's aspirations? To be about his Father's business. To move when His Father moved and speak only when His Father spoke. He was never too busy serving the church to love on an outcast. He wasn't in a hurry. He didn't brag about his busyness or insist on leading committees. He was completely at rest. Never striving, not stressed.
Jesus knew his significance came from his identity as his Father's Son. He knew who he was, and that was enough.
He was betrayed by one of his closest friends; yet, on that Thursday night, he showed mercy and grace to his betrayer. He healed a man whose job was to arrest him. He didn't feel the need to defend himself. He suffered rejection of the worst kind. He was beaten, laughed at, lied about, abandoned, and wrongfully accused.
He endured everything he knew we would encounter in our lifetime, so that he could understand. He became like us, so that we could become like him.
Are we trying to bless those in need, or are we trying to impress those who lead?
We will rule and reign with him as kings, but this King of Kings made himself nothing. It starts with humility. It starts with being more concerned with sacrifice than status. Are we trying to bless those in need, or are we trying to impress those who lead? We must love people more than position. We must seek to love others more than we seek leadership.
He made Himself nothing.