Q27: Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A: Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born and that in a low condition (Lk. 2:7), made under the law (Ga. 4:4),
undergoing the miseries of this life (Isa. 53:3), the wrath of God (Matt. 27:46), and the cursed death of the cross (Phil. 2:8);
in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time (Matt. 12:40).
I. This question deals with a number of subjects already considered. They are here summarized to impress that our Lord humbled Himself exceedingly for our salvation.
II. Christ’s humiliation is seen in six steps.
A. Entering human nature. It is astounding that God should come into this world by taking unto Himself a human nature (Jn. 1:1, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16).
1. Analogy: C.S. Lewis said that it’s as if a shepherd became a lamb in order to sacrifice himself for the flock. Christ lowered Himself even further, for the distance between God and man is greater than between man and animal.
B. Receiving a low position.
1. Christ was not born in a palace with wealth and social standing, but rather in a manger to poor parents (Lk. 2:7). His father was a carpenter and He was wrapped not in fine linen, but rather in tattered cloths, amongst livestock and not opulence.
2. Christ took upon Himself the form of a servant (Jn. 13:14-15; Phil. 2:5-7).
C. Submitting to the law. Christ as God was the giver of the Law and stood above it, but when He became man He was bound to keep the Law perfectly (Ga. 4:4-5).
1. The law as given to Adam demanded perfect obedience; the Mosaic law was given to the chosen people; moral law as a rule of duty.
a. This subjection was voluntary (Jn. 10:18); vicarious (Rom. 5:18-19).
b. Christ paid for sin in full when He died (Jn. 19:30; 2 Cor. 5:21), fulfilling all righteousness (Matt. 3:15).
D. Suffering miseries. Jesus experienced the miseries that we all experience (Isa. 53:3; Heb. 2:14; 4:15).
1. He knew hunger (Matt. 4:2), pain (Mk. 15:15), sorrow (Isa. 53:3; Jn. 11:35), and poverty (Matt. 8:20).
2. He was hated (Jn. 7:7), ridiculed (Ps. 22:6; Lk. 23:11), and tempted by Satan (Lk. 4:13)
3. He was tortured: scourged (Matt. 27:26); crowned with thorns (Matt. 27:29-30); nailed to the cross piercing the hands and feet, the nervous parts of the body (literally in the Hebrew “digged”); hanging there in full weight, pulling his joints out of socket (Ps. 22:14); naked as a spectacle; a lonesome and lingering death (about six hours [Mk. 15:25, 34]); a shameful death (Heb. 12:2).
E. Suffering God’s wrath. When Jesus cried out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46), He experienced the darkness of God hiding His face, as the unrepentant will on judgment day, being cast away from God’s presence into outer darkness (Matt. 8:12).
1. Christ became that curse for us (Ga. 3:13; cf. Deut. 21:23), suffering the pains of hell.
F. Being buried and continuing under death for a time (Matt. 12:40; 27:59-60).
1. He was buried in another’s tomb (Jn. 19:41).
III. Christ’s humiliation: understanding kenosis (Phil. 2:5-8).
A. The Greek word kenosis (v. 7) literally means “empty,” “void,” and is translated, “no reputation” (KJV), “made Him nothing” (ESV), and “emptied” (RSV).
B. The false view of kenosis.
1. Some take kenosis to mean that Jesus emptied Himself of His divine attributes when He became man. According to this view Christ’s humiliation meant the subtraction of His deity.
a. Refuted: this would suggest Christ’s divine nature is changeable (cf. Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8); Scripture clearly teaches that Christ was divine in His state of humiliation (Jn. 20:28; Col. 2:9, etc.). [See Qs 5-6]
C. The true view of kenosis.
1. It is not that deity was subtracted from Jesus, but rather that humanity was added. While deity was not subtracted, one could say, that Christ’s humiliation did involve a “veiling” of His deity for a time.
a. Many who saw Jesus did not realize He was God, and Jesus did not reveal His divine power and glory until He began His public and official work as Messiah (cf. Jn. 2:11).
(1). Christ did not use His powers to make His obedience any easier (Matt. 4:1-11).
b. Jesus “emptied” Himself of the proper recognition He had with the Father, which was His glory (cf. Jn. 17:5).
(1). His miracles prove He possessed divine attributes in the highest sense (e.g., Mk. 4:35-41).
2. The two states of Jesus are spoken of in Philippians 2:6-8.
a. Humiliation: Christ “humbled” (KJV) Himself by taking (“took” [KJV], Gk., lambano, humanity did not displace deity) the form of a “servant” (v. 7, Gk., doulous, i.e., “slave”), and dying upon the despised cross (v. 8).
b. Exaltation (v. 9): preincarnate/eternal state is found in the contrast.
(1). Christ, “being [Gk., huparcho, involves continuing to be that which one was before] in the form of God” (v. 6), means Christ was the same as God in substance (cf. Jn. 1:1; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3); hence it was not “robbery” for Him to be equal with God.
IV. Christ’s humiliation is the example of Paul’s exhortation for the church to be unified and selfless servants of one another (Phil. 2:1-4).
A. Paul’s four-fold appeal (v. 1) is the basis for his exhortations (vv. 2-4).
1. If one has found any consolation, comfort, communion with the Spirit, affection and mercy, be “likeminded” (v. 2), having the same love for one another.
a. “Mind” (Gk., phroneo) means, to think, have a mindset, and encompasses the will, affections, and conscience.
2. Selfishness and conceit (v. 3) destroy fellowship and hinder unity. Two practical ways of overcoming them: 1) count others better, seeing their strengths and gifts, while seeing your own weaknesses and failures; 2) make it a habit of thinking of the interests of others (Rom. 15:26; 1Cor. 10:24; Ga. 6:2).
B. Unity and love are based on truth (cf. Phil. 1:9)
1. “Unity at the expense of truth is a superficial peace; love apart from truth is hypocritical sentimentality” (John MacArthur).
2. “We ought never to regard unity so much that we would or should forsake God’s Word for her sake” (Hugh Latimer).
3. “The best way to promote union is to promote truth. It will not do for us to be all united together by yielding to one another’s mistakes. We are to love each other in Christ; but we are not to be so united that we are not able to see each other’s faults, and especially not able to see our own. No, purge the house of God, and then shall grand and blessed times dawn on us” (C.H. Spurgeon).
V. The mystery of Christ’s humiliation has been expressed with this statement: “Remaining what He was, He became what He was not.”
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. See here the love of Christ in its most distinguishing glory. For the deeper He debased and the lower He humbled Himself, the higher did He raise, and the more clearly did He manifest His love.
2. See here also the awful and tremendous severity of divine justice, which no less could satisfy than the Son of God’s humbling Himself, and becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
B. Use, of testing.
1. Do we meditate upon the sufferings of Christ, the salvation purchased by Him, and highly prize the gospel?
2. De we think certain things are too low for us to do? Look to the humiliation of the King of glory for correction and serve others however one can.
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. Let all rejecters of Christ tremble. If Christ, when He became a sinner only by imputation was exposed to such heavy sufferings as would have sunk millions of men and angels, what shall be the fate of those who spurn His love, reject the offers of His grace and mercy, and refuse to accept of His salvation? Accept Christ as He is offered in the gospel.
2. Saints. Revenge the death of Christ on your lusts and idols. Grudge not parting with any thing for Christ. He left His Father, exposed Himself to the severest hardships and most intolerable sufferings that you might not perish forever!