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. In previous weeks we’ve been looking at how Christ was humbled in order to bring us salvation. We’ve seen that Christ was humiliated by his conception, birth, subjection to the law and the temptations of Satan. This week I want to show that Christ was humiliated by the weakness of his human body.
Firstly we can see that Jesus was humiliated by having a human body that hungered. After Jesus fasted, Matthew tells us he was hungry: ‘After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry’ (Matthew 4:2). Being hungry may not seem humiliating to you, but if you’re the Son of God who has never been dependent on anything for all of eternity, to suddenly require food is a big step down.
Similarly, Jesus was humiliated by having a human body that grew thirsty. John reports that Jesus was thirsty on the cross: ‘Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit’ (John 19:28-30). Once again, to be thirsty is not a big deal if you’ve always been human. It’s just part of life. But for the eternal Son of God to require water is a humiliating experience.
Moreover, Jesus was humiliated by having a body that grew weary and tired. John tells us that, after walking a long distance, Jesus was tired: ‘So he came to a town in Samaria…Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour’ (John 4:3-6). A terrible experience for the son of God, who is included when Isaiah says: ‘The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom’ (Isa 40:28). Yet now Jesus experiences the humiliation of weariness.
In a similar way, we learn that Jesus slept. Matthew tells us that whilst in a boat ‘Jesus was sleeping’ (Matthew 8:24). Sleep is a humiliating need of humanity. We cannot last much more than a day before all of us need to be incapacitated for a few hours. Yet the Psalmist says about God: ‘he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’ (Psalm 121:4). So Christ was humiliated by his human body requiring sleep.
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 weaknesses of a human body
Do you trust in Christ’s humiliation for you so that you will have eternal glory in heaven?