“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From Humiliation to Glory

Yet another instance of paradox can be glimpsed in the contrast between glory and humiliation on the cross. Before going to the cross, Christ said he would be glorified (John 12:23, 32). But how could this be if he was ridiculed, mocked and spit on by men?

“[N]ever did he suffer so much pain in his body, or so much sorrow in his soul; never was he in so great an exercise of his condescension, humility, meekness, and patience, as he was in these last sufferings; never was his divine glory and majesty covered with so thick and dark a veil; never did he so empty himself and make himself of no reputation, as at this time.” – Jonathan Edwards, The Excellency of Christ
It cannot be denied that Christ experienced great humiliation. He was mocked and scorned and spit on as he died. And death by crucifixion was, in the ancient world, a death of unspeakable shame and utter horror (see “The ‘Foolish’ Wisdom of the Cross”). Yet the cross was his glory at the same time (Colossians 2:15), and he despised its shame (Hebrews 12:2). It paved the way for his resurrection and victory and ultimately revealed more of who he was, as we will see. Also, Christ was one with the Father and shared the same divine nature, so if the Father’s righteousness was vindicated by punishing sin in Christ, the same event also vindicated Christ’s righteousness and showed him to be holy and just. That is, the glory of Christ was accomplished through his humiliation. Only by being slain as a Lamb did Christ reveal himself as the Lion of Judah.
“[He was] crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.” – Hebrews 2:9

“Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” – Philippians 2:8-9

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