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Heidelberg Catechism LD 14-16: Christ’s State of Humiliation (Isaiah 53:1-4 and Philippians 2:5-8)

  • The coming Holy Week which recalls the passion of Christ
  • While the focus of Christ’s suffering is often focused on his crucifixion, his suffering isn’t limited on the cross and burial (though it’s the lowest point). Heidelberg Catechism LD 15: “… during his whole life on earth but especially at the end.”
  • The 2 States of Christ
    • Humiliation — Incarnation, Sufferings, Death, Burial
    • Exaltation — Resurrection… (to be discussed next LD)
  • What is involved in Christ’s state of humiliation?

A. GOD THE SON IN THE STATE OF HUMILIATION

  • The humiliation and suffering of Christ begins in incarnation
    • Two key passages
      • John 1:14
        • “Naging tao” (transformation) o “Nagkatawang tao?” (incarnation)
      • Philippians 2:5-8 (Did Christ set aside his or some of his divinity?)
        • Form of God (i.e., Spirit)
        • Emptied (i.e., humbled) himself, not by setting aside his equality with God, but by taking upon himself the form of man (i.e., not just possessed an existing body, but assumed the human nature, body and soul)
        • The divine essence and nature of Christ remained, but together with his divinity is his humanity (united in his one person as the Son of God).
        • The divine nature was not diminished or transformed into human or overridden by his humanity. (e.g., consider his power [miracles], omnipresence [Nathaniel], etc.).
        • But what happened is there became a “veiling” of the divine nature by the human nature. Hence, the King of kings and Lord of lords also became a man of sorrows.
  • This was necessary for him to fulfill his redemptive office as a mediator (i.e., both fully God and fully man, as our representative).
  • Christ’s incarnation was a miraculous birth (conceived by the Holy Spirit, without Joseph’s seed). It is a work of God. Not because Mary wasn’t sinful while Joseph was. Nevertheless, this incarnation is is the beginning of his humiliation.
  • His state of humiliation indeed began in incarnation. Though without sin, the nature that Christ has assumed is the human nature since the fall. Hence, the nature was subject to weakness and suffering.
    • Growth
    • Hunger
    • Tiredness
    • Weakness
    • Pain and death
    • Hence, he became the High Priest who is able to sympathize with all our weaknesses (cf. Hebrews 4:15)
  • And the lowest point of his suffering is during his passion in the hands of his enemies.
    • Prayer prior to betrayal (“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Matt. 26:38; “Being in agony, sweat like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44)
    • Crucifixion as legal punishment – One of the most cruel and inhumane form of death. Practiced during times of war. Nevertheless, until the time of Christ, it was a legal death. A lawful form of punishment to the worst criminals in the Roman society.
    • And God used the Crucifixion to pour his wrath upon his Son, and so his justice be satisfied. Christ redeeming us from the curse by being a curse (Cf. Galatians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
    • So Christ’s suffering under the justice and courts of men gave us the freedom from the justice of God in the courts of heaven.
  • And as took our sins upon himself, he received God’s wrath and died and was buried. True sacrifice involves shedding of blood (i.e., death, like the animal sacrifices). Total state of humiliation, yet Christ truly and fully paid for our sins.

B. WHAT DOES CHRIST’S STATE OF HUMILIATION MEAN TO US

  1. Christ’s suffering means that our salvation was already accomplished
    1. Why did Christ came to earth, to suffer, and die? To save us from our sins. And by suffering, he really accomplished that purpose.
    2. Without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22)… Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin (Hebrews 10:18)
    3. Example: Holy Week Tradition of penitence
    4. Application: Believe and trust in him and his finished work.
  2. Christ’s suffering gives us peace and comfort in times of distress
    1. Against guilt of conscience (Christ already suffered for us and paid for our sins in full [past, present, and future])
      1. Romans 8:34 – “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
    2. Against sorrows in this life
      1. We deserve far greater suffering because of our sins
      2. Nevertheless, our sorrows in this life will only be temporary, but we have the comfort that since Christ already received God’s punishment for sin, we shall be free from the ultimate sorrow and misery in hell (Death is only a passageway to heaven)
  3. Christ’s suffering induces us to mortify our sins and live in righteousness
    1. Christ’s death put an end to the curse of sin, leading to our forgiveness and justification once we believe in him. But through the work of the Spirit, his atoning blood also cleanses us from all our remaining sins in this life. And the revelation of God’s Word concerning his suffering leads to our sanctification.
    2. Consider: His incarnation, suffering and death demonstrates the perfect holiness of God, his justice and love (Someone must die and pay the penalty!)
    3. Christ’s suffering demonstrates the curse of sin and God’s wrath upon it. Why would we love sin?
    4. Application: When sin and temptation comes knocking in, look at the cross! (Read Isaiah 53:5). See the ugliness of sin and the beauty of Christ. Would we treasure sin more than Christ who suffered and died for us? And whenever we sin, may the wounds of Christ wound our hearts toward repentance.
  4. Christ’s suffering and death should lead us to gratitude and worship 
    1. Illustration/Example: The Passion of the Christ movie as the closest graphic representation what happened to Christ
    2. How could God the Son, the King of glory, choose to take the form of a servant, and suffer to the point of a brutal and shameful death? Why would Christ die for you and me? Who are we to deserve such love from God!?
    3. A reason for great praise and thanksgiving and worship!
    4. Knowing and treasuring Christ above all else – (“I know nothing except Christ and him crucified” [1 Cor. 2:2])
    5. Dedicating ourselves to him out of gratitude. Christ saved us not so we can live for ourselves:
      1. Loving to worship him and praise him every Lord’s Day and throughout the week
      2. Being willing to give up ourselves for him. Living for him!

Conclusion in the end: Pray that by His Spirit, God will keep our minds filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that we will comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. And may his great sacrificial love cause us to embrace him, worship him, and live for him.

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