In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. Last time I wrote on the subject, we started looking at how Christ was humiliated on earth in order to bring salvation to us. Last week we saw that Christ was humiliated by his conception and birth into this world. This week I want to look at the humiliation in Christ’s life by his subjection to the law.
When Christ was born, he became subject to the laws of God. The apostle Paul says: ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons’ (Galatians 4:4-5).
Now it might seem like a small matter that Jesus was born under the law, but it is a pretty big deal. We get annoyed with leaders of our nations who make laws, but who then exempt themselves from keeping such laws. Why does it annoy us? Because they are humans just like us and should be subject to the law too. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.
But if Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he is not ‘just like us’. Before Jesus entered this world, he was not subject to many of the laws of God, particularly the ceremonial laws that require a physical human body in order to comply.
So when Jesus came into this world as a human being, he placed himself under the same laws which he had given to Moses back at Mount Sinai. Which now meant Jesus had to keep his very own laws.
And amazingly, Jesus kept every single one of those laws. Jesus himself says in the sermon on the mount: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’ (Matthew 5:17). In contrast to Adam, Paul also says that Christ was perfectly obedient: ‘For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19). Thus the author of Hebrews also says: ‘Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered’ (Hebrews 5:8).
So we can see that the humiliation of Jesus began long before his shameful death on the cross. His incarnation as a human being was the beginning of a life of humiliation as the great law-giver stooped down and became the great law-adherer.
Why would Jesus humble himself in this way? Because of our sin we deserve to be humiliated for eternity in hell. But thankfully Jesus takes the eternal humility we deserve so we can have eternal glory instead. This eternal glory comes by trusting that Jesus was humiliated for you, even by his subjection to the law which he had made himself.
Do you trust in Christ’s humiliation for you so that you will have eternal glory in heaven?
Joel Radford, Preaching Elder.