Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christ's Own Glorification

Christ’s true humanity necessitates that he be exalted for us and for our salvation.

It is important for Biblical Christology that we understand Christ has two natures. He is truly God and truly man. He was always for all eternity past truly God and in addition he takes on true humanity at the point of incarnation.

But what many do not realize is that Christ's humanity has two states. First, is the state of Christ's humiliation which culminates in death on the cross (of course this 'high point is an ultimate 'low point'--he is at his most humbled). After his humiliation, Christ's humanity enters a state of exaltation which includes the resurrection and ascension. See Philippians 2:6-11 for this progression of the two 'states' of Christ's humanity.

One other passage that walks us through the conception of “two states” in Christ’s humanity comes in Hebrews 2:5-11 which is powerfully important for the work of Jesus in his humanity. First, in verse 7 Christ described has having been made a little lower than the angels. This refers to the initial state of his humanity--not a statement about his divine status. As to his rank as a human being: he was a nobody. In the celestial hierarchy Jesus in his humanity did not even rank with angels. However, upon his suffering death he is subsequently in exaltation (v.7-8) crowned with all glory and honor in his humanity. All things are put under his feet. Hebrews 2:9 “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” 

All this is why Hebrews in 1:4 can describe Jesus as becoming superior to angels and inheriting the superior divine name. It is about the exercise of rank within creation. Jesus who was the creator of all things, Col 1:16; John 1:3; Heb 1:2 (a statement of eternal deity), stepped down into his creation and in doing so took upon himself a rank within creation that was lower than much of what he had created. In due time, through his humble obedience of God and for our benefit, he dies but it is such a glorious death and the Father is so well-pleased that the only fitting response is to exalt him and give him the rank of king over all things.

While we could explore this more, suffice it to say: Jesus’ exaltation is the state of the glorification of his human nature. The human nature is not deified or made divine but as proper of good Biblical theology human nature is an appropriate vehicle for displaying the image of God. In the Son’s exalted state we have the seen the glory of God shining forth. He is a shining of the exact imprint of God’s glory that Jesus possessed from all eternity past but it is a shining forth in a human nature that he only took upon himself in the fulness of time. 

You and I worship a wondrous God whose chief end is to glorify himself. He has done that supremely in his Son Jesus. He has done it in the most awesome of events: the humiliation and the exaltation of the one who became just like us in all things. For the Christian, our humanity will one day join Jesus in a glorified and resurrected state. No, we never take on divinity or become gods but we will share the glory of our king (Heb 2:10-11) because like his human nature, ours too can be raised up to exaltation. We are raised up because of his working on our behalf that was ‘for us and for our salvation.’ God’s plan for humanity in Eden is fulfilled in the fullness of time through the Son so that in the New Creation we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

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