Some might say that humility is foreign to God. To be God in all his Majesty he must be the very opposite of lowliness. He must exist in perfect bliss in contrast to all suffering. He must be above and beyond all that is earthly. He must be the Most High and Wholly Other.
But in Jesus God has actually become the lowly suffering human. In doing so, he exposes our ideas of “The Most High” as entirely false. He shows us that we cannot make our own abstract notions the standard by which to decide what God can or cannot do. Truly, Jesus corrects our notions of who God is and what he is like.
Jesus is the Most High who went down to the lowest place in order to lift us up with him to the highest place. He wanted to include us within the communion he shares with his Father in the Spirit. To do so, he came to us as lowly servant going down the lowest place of death on a cross to bring us to his Father in the Spirit. With our eyes fixed on Jesus we do not know God as the “Divine Being” above and beyond us. We only know him as the God who has joined himself to us as lowly servant in order to lift us up with him to the highest place in communion with his Father in the Spirit.
And now in the Father’s presence we lift Jesus up on high as the one who stooped so low taking up our cause as his own in deepest humility.
The One who was in the form of God humbled himself taking the form of a servant. He renounced the honour and glory of his divine status in the form of God for the lowly status of a servant. As lowly servant he moved down to the lowest place – death on a cross.
We ask, what is God like? The answer to that question is revealed as much in lowly self giving as it is in exalted rule. The one who is in the form of God, with supreme status above all, made himself nothing. The God who is so very high is the same God who stooped so very low. And now his Father has exalted him to the highest place giving him the name above every name. He lifted Jesus up on high not in spite of the fact that he made himself nothing but because he did so.
One day all creation will recognise Jesus, the lowly servant, as the one true Lord before whom all should bow. Until that day comes, the Holy Spirit enables us to bow before Jesus confessing him as Lord. In the Spirit we lift up in praise the One who stooped so low. In the Spirit we confess as Lord the one who came not to be served but to serve us in lowly self-giving. In the Spirit we magnify the sovereign on the throne as the man on the cross. In the Spirit, we bow before Jesus to the glory of God the Father.
No one from the outside forced God to become human in Jesus. Nor was he under pressure because of an inward “ought”. In the freedom of his love he decided to be God as human. And so, when God comes among us as human in Jesus he is becoming the one he always wanted to be. In Christ, far from being against Himself or at odds with himself, God has been true to himself.
As Lord of his own being God is free to become what he wants to be. He is unchanging in his divinity and yet free to become human. He is almighty and yet free to become weak. He is pure and yet free to become sin as he stands with sinners in the place of sinners. Yes, as the Lord who loves in freedom he is free to become his opposite while remaining who he is.
As Lord of the world he can decide the way he relates to the world. He can be above the world as Lord over the world and also within the world in the form of a servant without giving up who he is as Lord of all. For in the freedom of his love he comes among us as the lowly Lord who serves.
We might think that all this “becoming” is impossible. But only because we have our own distorted ideas of what God is like. If we seek to know God where he has actually revealed himself then we know that God has become the lowly suffering human who serves. And in this “becoming” God shows Himself to be more great and free and rich and sovereign than we had ever imagined.
God with us liberating us from all the powers that oppress us. He comes among
us as the sinless one becoming sin to set us free from the power of death. For
in his death he brings about the death of death. He comes among us handing himself over to the
curse of God, but only to do away with it as he suffers the curse himself. He
acts as Lord over sin, death and curse even as he subjects himself to these
powers. He is the lowly liberator who set us free by becoming one of us in
All that is
great gain for us, but did the Father’s Son lose his full divinity by becoming
human under sin, death and the curse for us?
Does he change into something he wasn’t before? No! the mystery and miracle is that the
divinity of Christ remains unaltered and unalterable. He humbled Himself, but
did not do so by ceasing to be who he is. He did not give up being God in
becoming a lowly suffering human. Rather,
it is in his humiliation that he is true to himself as God. For within the Triune Communion, the Son was
chosen to be with us and for us as one of us.
In becoming the lowly and suffering human, he does not cease to be God.
He does not come into conflict with himself.
He actually becomes the one he always wanted to be as the Father’s
dearly loved chosen one.
Jesus is God coming among us in lowliness. As God he moves towards us even though we are far from him. He gives himself freely to us even though who do not want him. Jesus even makes our sin and shame his own. He exists within the holy and joyful communion with his Father in the Spirit; but he wants to co-exist with others who are not God and far from God. And it doesn’t seem to make him miserable to lower himself in this way. No! The Lord finds great pleasure and joy in coming to us in lowliness. How could it not bring him joy? He is becoming the one he always wanted to be.
So the one who finds great pleasure within the triune communion finds pleasure in coming among us in lowliness. And as he stoops lower and lower towards the lowest place of all his pleasure does not dim. Rather, it was for the joy set before him that he endured the cross. He was glad that we would share in the pleasure of the his fellowship with the Father in the Spirit.
There are so many beautiful things in God’s world that are given for our pleasure. But we were created to enjoy the beauty of triune communion as our highest pleasure. That’s why the Father’s Son gives himself to us and for us. He wants us to enjoy the beauty of Triune life with him as we share his fellowship with the Father. And when his Spirit enables us to see how he has freely given himself to us in love we are drawn into his pleasure.
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.