The Rest of the Trip

17 October 2011 by Tom Chantry

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.

Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.

Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.

In his commentary on John 16:28 Leon Morris spoke of “the great movement of salvation.” He did not mean the movement of sinners toward God, nor even the inexorable movement of God’s plan throughout history. Rather, he meant the movement of Christ through his humiliation and exaltation - His grand journey from heaven to earth to hell and back again.

We often think of Christ’s humiliation in his incarnation as having been a condescension for us, and this is true. He became one of us that He might represent us before the Father. We would do well to remember that in the rest of His humiliation He also came down to our level. In His death and burial Jesus was made like us - like me, like you, and like a multitude of other sinners. For make no mistake, the sufferings, death, and defeat which Jesus experienced were inevitable for us.

The greatness of His movement is in this: having arrived in our neighborhood, Jesus picked us up and took us along for the rest of the trip. If we are united together with Him, we are united together with His death. We underwent His remaining humiliation along with Him - the terror of death, the power of darkness, the wrath of God, and also the reality of being under the power of death - all this we have already experienced in Him!

We call this a wonderful salvation because we were going there anyway - our sins had assured us of death and hell. But of course there is more: having been united together with Him in His death, we are also united in His resurrection. Jesus picked us up on the way down, but because we died in Him rather than ourselves, we are taken back up as well. We follow Jesus in His resurrection, in His ascension, and even in His exaltation to the throne.

Because Jesus eternally possessed all the glory of the Godhead, we might well ask what He gained from this round-trip to perdition. The truth is that the benefit is all for the vagabonds he picked up along the way, sinners who would have undergone death and hell, but who never could have known resurrection and heaven.