Perhaps we can also find helpful insight from scripture itself. Here are a few that I think help provide a “general” understanding of what “emptied himself” might mean.
First, John, in prison, asked his disciples to inquire if Jesus was the “one-to-come”. Jesus answered:
Matthew 11:4 - Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear
and see: 11:5 the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the
deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed
Luke 7:22 - So he answered them, “Go tell John what you have seen
and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf
hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them.
Jesus also sent out his disciples with authority to minister to the surrounding towns.
Matthew 10:1 - Jesus called his twelve disciples and gave them
authority over unclean spirits so they could cast them out and heal
every kind of disease and sickness.
Luke 9:1 - After Jesus called the twelve together, he gave them
power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 9:2 and he
sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
And Jesus even permitted the Holy Spirit to lead him into temptation.
Matthew 4:1 - Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Luke 4:1 - Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the
Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 4:2 where
for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing
during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished.
I think that without much trouble, we can find many more references in the Bible along these same lines. But using just these, what can we start understanding about Jesus “emptying himself”? We find he yet had the ability to:
- Gave sight to the blind
- Heal the lame
- Remove leprosy from lepers
- Enable the deaf to hear
- Raise the dead
- Proclaim the Gospel to the poor
What else do we see from these scriptures? Jesus had the ability to pass “authority” to the disciples. Using this authority, the disciples(!) were able to cast out demons, cure diseases, and heal the sick.
And finally, would you like to be lead into temptation? Me, I want to flee it! But Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him into direct “with the devil” temptation. Who had the authority at that time? If it was Jesus, the devil would not have been able to tempt Him. But in this instance, the devil had the authority to harass Jesus much like any one of us gets harassed by him. Truly, Jesus would have had to given “something” up or the devil would not have been able to do this!
So it seems scripture presents Jesus was still quite capable and yet humble in many ways. And really, it’s like, if these are the things He can do in a “limited” state, he is still far more than any person who ever lived and is alone worthy of our praise and worship.
P.S. - Did you notice that Jesus places proclaiming the Gospel right up there with miracles? Perhaps this is for us to realize that without Jesus, it would be impossible to have the Gospel as it too is a miracle He has provided.