Post last updated on February 8, 2023
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Herman Bavinck writes of our Lord’s incarnation, his birth in human flesh that necessitated and began his humiliation:
Christ had to assume such a weak human nature in order to be tempted, in order to learn obedience from suffering, in order to be able to struggle and in the struggle to sanctify himself in order to sympathize with us in our weakness and to be a compassionate and faithful high priest: in short to be able to suffer and die. Although he was like Adam before the fall in this respect that He was without sin, He was in other ways very different from Adam. For Adam was created adult at once, but Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb and was born as a helpless babe. When Adam came, everything stood ready for him, but when Christ came to earth no one had counted on His coming and there was even no place for Him in the inn. Adam came to rule, and to subject the whole earth to His dominion. Christ came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
The incarnation of the Son of God was not only therefore a deed of condescending goodness, such as it still remains in the state of exaltation; but it was simultaneously also a deed of deep humiliation. The humiliation began with the conception itself, and continued through his life up to His death and the grave. Christ was not a human hero whose motto was Excelsior, who overcomes every obstacle, and finally achieves the pinnacle of his fame. On the contrary He descended always lower and deeper and more intimately into our fellowship. The way down into these depths was marked by the tiers or steps: conception, birth, the lowly life in Nazareth, baptism and temptation, opposition, disparagement, and persecution, agony in Gethsemane, condemnation before Caiaphas and Pilate, crucifixion, death, and burial. The way led ever farther down from His home with the Father, and it led ever nearer to us in the fellowship of our sin and our death, until finally in the deepest depth of His suffering He gave utterance to the anxious plaint about being forsaken of God. And then He could also give utterance to the cry of victory: It is finished!Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God: Instruction in the Christian Religion According to the Reformed Confession (Glenside, Pennsylvania: Westminster Seminary Press), 319.