Whilst continuing to meditate on the subject of "mind of Christ" we
come to the penultimate part of our series focusing therein on yet
another area which underscores the truth about our Lord's humility...
The word "Double promotion" instantly draws attention. Parents brag of their bright kids getting promoted straightaway from say 5th grade to 7th Grade primarily on account of high marks. Fans of exceptionally-talented Pakistani Cricketer, Wasim Akram, can boast of their hero having been fast-tracked into Test Cricket in 1985 without ever having played a single match in the Quaid-E-Azam trophy (Ranji Trophy equivalent across the border)...so on and so forth. If in the spiritual realm there is a three tier hierarchy with the Trinity at the top, angels in the middle and human beings at the bottom, then in the case of Christ it was an instance of "Double demotion" (Heb 2:7,9) being vested with a finite human flesh on the "First Christmas". Donning of this human vesture was necessary. Why? Read on...
It is not an understatement to say that at the Fall, Sin damaged the entire personality of man. His body, soul and spirit (hey, the human being is also a trinity -- I Thess 5:23) were deeply "wounded" as a result of his conscious choice to breach his conscience in the Garden of Eden at the behest of the crafty tempter (Genesis 3:1-7). As the descendents of the fallen Adam, we inherit the same "fallen, broken and damaged personality" at our physical birth. The Redemption work of atonement required that all the three parts of the fallen man be set right.
The terrible suffering of our Saviour on the Cross on all three fronts ensured that the "complete redemption package" is in place on the First Good Friday. His terrible physical anguish before and during the Crucifixion (a horrific death sentence where pain is maximal with death the "pain reliever" arriving oh so slowly) was immeasurable. The flogging and crowning of his head with the "laurel wreath of thorns" only compounded this. Yes, we were "sick" from head to toe (Isaiah 1:6), hence it required that our Saviour in his atoning work on the cross bleed to death from head to toe.
What about his emotional (soul) suffering before and during the Crucifixion? I would caution the readers to not be carried away by some "Christian" paintings that depict Christ praying in a dignified posture in the Garden of Gethsemane and being crucified with the loin cloth on. Even as the Cross with all its indescribable pain loomed before the spotless Son of God, He suffered so much emotionally that he fell prostrate on his face (read the Gospels to know the truth -- Mark 14:35) sweating blood. Then what about the insults that accompanied Him, all through this ordeal ...the spitting and stripping (Matt 27:27-31)... the historians tell us that in order to instill uttermost fear of rebelling against their authority, the Romans ensured that the perpetrator was insulted publicly in toto, by crucifying him stark naked. So virtually, Christ covered the shame brought about by sin (Genesis 3:7) by Himself enduring shame on the cross (Heb 12:2).
Coming to the spiritual suffering, let it be said that when all sin came upon His sinless self (2 Cor 5:21), He experienced hell for us in order that we do not end up there. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else! Jesus' only source of comfort in this fiery affliction until then (the Father's Holy presence) also abandoned Him as the Holy God whose pure eyes cannot see evil (Hab 1:13) could not stay in the presence of despicable sin. Hence that heart-rending cry from the cross..."My God, My God (Note: Not My Father, in the way Christ had along addressed His Father) why have you forsaken me" (Matt 27:46) in perfect fulfilment of the prophecy recorded about 1000 years back in Psalm 22:1).
Prayer: Father strengthen us to endure the sacred ordeal of bearing the Cross everyday. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire "Humility All the Way" mini-series, please click here.)