When the exalted Lord became lowly for us he was doing what he promised all along. He always said he would be with us. And in Jesus, he is with us in a way we never dreamed possible. He is actually joins himself to us as one of us. This makes him faithful to us.
But when the exalted Lord stoops so low he isn’t only faithful to us. He is also faithful to himself. He becomes the one he always wanted to be. Before God created anything or anyone the Son was appointed to be one of us. In this way God would be with us in him and we would be with God in him. God freely decided to bind himself to us. And he freely decided to bind us to himself. He determined himself to be ours and for us to be his. This is what he resolved to be in Jesus before he even created us.
God’s eternal purpose became actual in time when the Holy Spirit brought into existence the unique person who is both God and man in union. Now, in Jesus, God is the one he always wanted to be. We actually see in the Jesus’ story God being true to himself, true to who he always wanted to be – one with us as one of us. For God’s eternal decision is that God and humanity should be together in union and for communion.
Isaiah spoke about the future day when a voice would cry out
in the wilderness, “prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our
God… And the glory of the Lord will be revealed”.
Eventually, the Lord himself came. He was right there in our world. And his glory was revealed as the lowly Jesus. He was so lowly he did not stand out at
People did not say, WOW!
Look at his splendour and majesty!
No, he was ordinary.
This is the high and holy one who not only turns towards us
but in doing so stoops down to us. And
stoops so very low. Yes, the Lord of
glory is exalted higher than we can ever imagine. Nevertheless, when he became one of us he
stooped lower than we can ever express.
This lowly man is the revelation of the Lord’s majesty and glory. But we so easily miss the majesty of God in
his lowliness. We see the majesty as one
thing and the lowliness as another. So
when considering his majesty we are looking for something resplendent, awesome,
and stunning. Well, this lowliness is
stunning! We see that our God is so
great that he is capable of becoming lowly.
And he does not humble himself in spite of the fact that he is God,
but because he is God. For our
God always wanted to be God with us as one of us stooping to the lowest place
in order to lift us to the highest place.
As people move into the new year some resolve to do better
in the new than they did in the old. For
us, that may mean resolving to know God better for true life is found in ever deeper
fellowship with Father and Son in the Spirit.
And so we resolve to seek God. We
must always be aware, however, that it
is God who moves towards us making himself known. We may say that we want
fellowship with God, but he wants fellowship with us more than we want
fellowship with him. And so he makes
himself known to us and in us through Jesus and his Spirit. “God,
who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of
Christ” (2 Cor.4:6). At the very centre of our being, the Spirit lights up
the face of Jesus in living encounter.
And in that beautiful face we see the radiance of God.
God moves out of his own fullness making himself known more
and more as the living Jesus encounters us again and again in the Spirit. That means we do not create our own knowledge
of God. And we certainly cannot make
knowledge of him our own possession. He
wants to be known. He makes himself
known encountering us as the living God who always surpasses our knowing. Let us then fix on God’s resolve to enjoy
fellowship with us and always be attentive and responsive to his revealing
Jesus did not simply act for God in the world he acted as God. He is the very action of God himself in our world. So, to know what God is like we fix our eyes on Jesus as God’s action in the world.
But is this where we usually begin when considering who God is. I think too many of us begin with abstract ideas about the divine being. God is infinite, eternal, unchanging and so on. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. We think this is the real “stuff” of divinity.
But is this the way God has made himself known? John tells us, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John. 1.18). Who is the one true God? What is the “divine nature”? We do not discover the answer to these questions from our own notions of supreme, absolute, non-worldly, perfect being. We only know what God is like through Jesus’ human actions as God. From what he has done and suffered as human. For Jesus is God as human, among humans and for humans.
The same Jesus who came into the world comes to us by the Spirit. He encounters us personally as the Living Lord who always surpasses our knowing. And so we don’t decide what God is like out of our own darkness. Rather, “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4.6).
Before the world was made Father and Son were with one another face to face. In the bond of the Spirit, the Son delights in the Father and the Father delights in the Son. Father and Son enjoying the closest fellowship in the Spirit. And this relational God seeks fellowship with us. He does so out of the overflow of fellowship within himself. He does not need fellowship with us. He already possesses the fullness of joyful communion within himself. But the love of Father and Son in the Spirit overflows towards us seeking fellowship with us as sheer gift.
The Father’s Son came among us making God known as the fellowship seeking God. So we cannot describe the Being of God in any other way than simply the one who loves freely out of fellowship and for fellowship. When I say that God loves freely I simply mean that His love moves entirely from himself as love. He is the living God who is what He is in dynamic action. He is the loving God who is what he is in the free expression of his love moving from himself alone. God “is” the one who loves freely. That’s what we see in Jesus, the one who makes God known.
Now the Spirit joins us to Christ so that we share his fellowship with the Father. And within this fellowship of love and joy we see that it is all free gift. The Father seeking fellowship and creating fellowship in his Son and Spirit.
Michael Ramsey once said: “God is Christlike, and in Him there is no unchristlikeness at all.” It is essential that our minds remain fixed on God as Chistlike because we so easily slip into thinking about God apart from Christ leaving us with an abstract and remote God. We think of God as Almighty. Jesus is God among us in the form of one who is weak. We assert that God is Eternal. Jesus is God among us in time tasting death. We exalt God as the Most High. Jesus is God among us in deepest humility. Jesus is The Holy One standing in the place of a sinner with other sinners. He is the one in whom we behold the Glory of God and yet he is covered with shame. This is the Lord, the true lord, who has taken the form of a servant in order to serve his Father and us. As such, he turns upside down all our thinking about “The Divine Being”.
God took this lowly form in Jesus because of his eternal decision. Before the creation of the world the Father elected his unique Son to take the form of a lowly servant with us and for us. And so Jesus, the Lord as lowly servant, fulfils God’s eternal decision to be with us and for us as one of us. He is God’s eternal decision made actual forever.
Now, with Luther, “we must look at no other God than this incarnate and human God.” And we look at him this way knowing that this is the way that God wants to be known in hearts full of wonder, love and praise.
The salvation of the Lord comes into the world rescuing us from all the false lords that enslave us. No one is ever without a lord. Each one of us is what we are because of the lord’s we serve and the power of these lords over us. And so, The Lord comes in person to bring about a liberating change of lordship from the lordship of the world’s dark powers to that of the true Lord. The rescue comes in Jesus who is himself the liberating Lord. In weakness and humility he wins the battle against sin, death and Satan and we are set free.
As the New Testament writers describe Jesus this way they trust that he will continually bear witness to Himself as Liberating Lord. They don’t want others to accept who Jesus is because of the way they describe him, but only because Jesus declares himself as liberating Lord in unity with his Father. By the Spirit, Jesus has encountered them as the Liberating Lord whom the Father has now exalted and they simply point to who he is. And so, as they proclaim Jesus to others they count on him encountering their hearers in the Spirit as Liberating Lord.
We too have come to know Jesus as our Liberating Lord who sets us free from all the powers that once enslaved us Now we are free to serve him as Lord in newness of life. That is true freedom!
The Jesus story portrays the life of a human among humans. He lives and moves with other humans doing all the natural things humans do. Nevertheless, the story shows that he is different from all other humans. He isn’t simply portrayed as a better human. For there were moments in the story when other humans respond to him as to Yahweh, Israel’s God. Furthermore, his resurrection declares that this man who is the servant of humanity is also their Lord. As the Lord of all other humans he has full authority to condemn them or to pardon. He has full power to call them and bind them to Himself. He has full sovereignty over each person’s existence and all human history
By the Spirit, the Father draws us to his Son so that we now confess, “Jesus is Lord”. We have come to know that Jesus is head over all things and the one who rules over the totality of our existence. Nevertheless, by the Spirit, we know that he is not Lord in the way we might naturally expect. What distinguishes the man Jesus as Lord is that he draws near as the one who serves. We naturally think of a Lord as one who is distant standing over others and requiring them to serve him. But this man who is our Lord and God encounters us by his Spirit as the one wants to be servant of all. He is not distant, but nearer than we can ever say.
Though the Father’s Son was in the form of God he willingly took the form of a servant. He came freely to serve his Father in the power of the Spirit. Always listening for what his Father wanted him to do. Always seeking his Father’s will rather than his own. His food was to do the work his Father gave him to do. His joy was to make his Father glad.
In serving his Father Jesus also served us. Jesus’ Father loves us and so he wanted him to serve us by giving himself freely to and for us. And so, out of love for his Father and us Jesus gave himself to serve by going to the very lowest place even death on the cross. In that way, Jesus shows that he is the true God. For it is this humility that marks out the true God from all false gods. The false gods are a reflection of the human pride which will not stoop to that which is beneath it. In contrast, we see that the true God is not proud. He is the humble God who wants to stoop low in order to serve.
Having stooped to the lowest place, Jesus’ Father exalted him to the very highest place giving him the name above all names. But even though Jesus is now exalted to be confessed as Lord by all he still wants to serve his Father by serving us. He does so as he works within us by his Spirit so that we freely serve him as our Lord. He does not want to coerce us into serving; he wants to inwardly enable us so that we serve him freely and gladly as he serves his Father.
Jesus IS reconciliation from both God’s side and ours.
Jesus is reconciliation from the side of God for he is God’s action reconciling the world to himself. In Jesus God actually came among us doing everything necessary for a new relation with himself. As the Holy One he became sin to overcome sin in himself. As the Judge he was judged so that there is no condemnation for us. God did not hold himself aloof having distant dealings with us. He came among us as one of us to bring us back to himself.
Jesus is reconciliation from the side of God, but also from our side. He lives the true human life in trustful obedience to his Father even unto death. He does so in our place and on our behalf. And he is raised from death as the new man who represents the new humanity now reconciled to God. In Jesus alone there is a new relation of God to humanity and humanity to God.
So we always fix our eyes on Jesus as our reconciliation with God. We do not look towards him at the start only to leave him behind as we move on to other matters. The Spirit of Christ always brings us to Christ setting our hearts always on him as our reconciliation. With the eyes of our hearts fixed on Jesus, we can constantly live and move in the joy and freedom of our new relation with God. For “our” relation with God is actually Jesus’ relation with the Father that we share in by his Spirit.