A cup, a gas tank, a bank account, a house, even a heart can be described as empty. Typically when something is empty, the implication is it’s not worth very much, or it is waiting to be filled.
Philippians 2:7 says Jesus emptied himself of godly power. He emptied himself of godly glory. The Message says, “He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave.”
That emptying process looked like this: He humbled himself, he showed up on earth as a human, he accepted the role of a servant, he obeyed or submitted to God’s plan, even to the point of a totally undeserved death, even a horrific death on a cross.
On the cross, Jesus emptied himself of his godly righteousness. He made himself an empty vessel in order to receive the sins of all mankind. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). He received the punishment for our transgressions. He emptied himself so God might lay on him the iniquity of us all.
Second Corinthians 8:9 describes the same idea in terms of rich and poor: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Through his emptiness, we sinners can become full—the great exchange.
As you hold the Communion cup in your hand, remind yourself that Jesus emptied himself so that you might be filled. It is entirely acceptable that we show up here on a Sunday morning empty, needing to be refilled, refueled, and replenished. Because the Lord’s table is the place where we can trade our emptiness for his fullness.
We are each filled with his Spirit, righteousness, and holiness. We receive his power and his love. John 1:16 says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” (New International Version, 1984).
As you hold your empty cup, pause to remember his empty cross and tomb.
Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (NIV, 1984).
Nancy Karpenske is women’s ministry director at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado.