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The True God

The world has rejected God and turned far away from him. Nevertheless, the world is not left to its own devices. God actually entered the world in Jesus to turn the world around. Jesus, the lowly man, is himself true God acting in the world to bring us back home. He is not a mere “appearance” of the true and proper divine being beyond himself. He is God himself acting in the world for the sake of our reconciliation.

But doesn’t Jesus, as lowly servant, contradict who and what God actually is? Well, he certainly contradicts all our human ideas about the divine being. For our own natural projections about God turn God into a remote and removed being. One who cannot possibly become a lowly and suffering human. But Jesus is the true God who decided with his Father in the Spirit that he wanted to be with us as lowly suffering servant to bring us back home. So, the only God we know is the one who is willing to be lowly as the suffering servant to take us back to himself. He chooses humiliation in lowly service to reconcile us.

In this action within the world and for the world God shows us who he actually is and what he is like. We do not now speculate about what the divine being can or cannot do because he has done what he wants to do showing us what the true God is like. So, the only God we know is the one who is willing to be lowly as the suffering servant to take us back to himself. And before the true God who is lowly servant we bow in awe and wonder.

The Reconciler

Can the world reconcile itself to God? The world is at enmity with God so it cannot possibly act as its own the reconciler? The world is actually so hostile to God it does not even want to be reconciled. Nevertheless, God loves the world and wants all people to live with him in love relationship. So he came to us in Jesus as reconciler. He came even though we were undeserving. He came even though we made no promises of reform. God alone reconciles humanity to himself. It is God’s own work, and not the work of another. “In Christ GOD was reconciling the world to himself”.

Jesus, the Father’s Son makes peace between God and humanity. He does so by taking upon himself enmity of the world against God and the curse which rests upon it. He is the One who himself takes away the judgment on the world by taking it all on himself.

In order to reconcile us Jesus suffered and even became sin. Was it simply the human Jesus who suffered for us? Or is Jesus God himself suffering as human? We cannot really split Jesus at any point saying this was Jesus as human and that was Jesus as divine? He is always one person as the God-human. So Jesus suffering is truly the suffering of God. We can never understand what that actually means. All we can say is that in Jesus the unfathomable mystery of God’s suffering is an open secret? And we now survey his wondrous cross knowing that we are already reconciled to God through him, our only reconciler.

Communal Decision Happening in Jesus

The Father chose his unique Son to go the way of lowly service for us. And the Son freely chose to go that way as the Lord who serves. Father and Son made this decision together in the Spirit

Jesus did not go this way of lowly self-giving service alone. He was always in the Father and the Father in him. Jesus, therefore, went the way of lowly Servant-Son in union with his Father in the Spirit. The Father sends his Son into the world to serve in lowliness and he is in his Son as he serves. The Spirit rests on the Son as he serves his Father and us so that all he does is in the Spirit. So in Jesus, the lowly servant, the Triune One is among us making his eternal decision happen in history. His decision to be God with us and for us; and for us to be with him.

But what kind of happening is it? Might it not have happened? For sure, all that happened in Jesus within history is rooted in the divine decision which is divinely fulfilled in Jesus. He comes among us rescuing us from the power of sin and death. He dies to end the reign of sin and death over us and we die to that reign with him. He rises as the new man in the new creation and we rise with him to newness of life. He is himself the dramatic saving happening in history making actual God’s communal decision. And now by the Spirit the same Jesus happens in us calling us to faith and sure expectation for the future.

Can The Most High Be Lowly?

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.

He made himself nothing

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.

Greater than we ever imagined

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.

Lowly Liberator

Jesus is 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 every way

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.

Joy in Lowliness

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.

True to himself

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.

 

Lowly Majesty

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 all. 

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.