Our Humble God
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. (Luke 1:31-32)
It is beyond our imagination that the infinite God—the creator of the infinite as well as the creator of the infinitesimal—actually cares about us. But then again He created us to be in His image and because of this He has a “natural” care for and about those who were established to be His children. The infinite God actually lovingly condescends, or to put it differently, He humbles himself to show His care and concern for us fallen children. Various verses of Scripture describe this astounding attitude of God.
The Psalmist thus exclaims in amazement, Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap… He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children (113:5-7,9, NKJV). Indeed God has always humbled Himself to associate with the lowly.
But then something even more extraordinary occurred. God chose a humble, lowly virgin, and this virgin was tapped to be the very vessel of the Son of God; and not just His vessel, but His very mother; this humble, sinful virgin became the very mother of God! And even more amazing, the Son of God, conceived in the virgin’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, humbled Himself to actually be a vulnerable human being, able to suffer and die.
To enable His sufferings and death, the Son of God entered what we call the State of Humiliation, a humble state—or condition of existence—in which the human being Jesus neither always nor fully used His divine attributes communicated to His human nature. Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) describes how the Son of God was incarnate by the Holy Spirit. Such incarnation is not in itself the State of Humiliation; it only enabled it. The incarnation also enabled the Son of God to later enter a State of Exaltation. Once God’s Son was conceived in Mary’s womb He literally became Mary’s child, and henceforth God’s Son permanently remains Mary’s son, one with our flesh and blood. Though becoming one with our flesh is not the equivalent of entering the State of Humiliation, nonetheless simultaneous with His becoming one of us God’s Son entered His State of Humiliation. Though the Son of God possesses all power and all knowledge and is present everywhere, yet in this State of Humiliation He, like us, would grow in knowledge and stature and physical strength. For example he would learn the carpenter’s trade from His “father” Joseph and he would hear and be a student of Scripture like any other good Jewish boy.
Unlike the rest of us, sin did not get in the way of Jesus’ growth in understanding and wisdom. His mind grasped the teachings of Holy Writ perfectly. From hearing His mother’s testimony and from Holy Scripture Jesus perfectly grew in understanding His identity and His purpose. From chapters such as Isaiah 53 Jesus knew that He would have to bear the sins of mankind, and this would ultimately mean His sacrificial death. He also realized from such chapters that He would rise from the dead.After His resurrection He is no longer in a State of Humiliation. Jesus, the son of Mary, is now in a State of Exaltation, a state in which He, as a man, is always and fully using the divine attributes communicated to His human nature. Now, strange as it may sound, the man Jesus is using His omnipresence, His omniscience and His omnipotence. He does this for us. Now we may use the words of the Psalmist for Mary’s son: Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap. Yes, He through suffering, death and resurrection has lifted the poor and needy out of dust and ashes, and the Exalted One continues to humble himself to relate to us poor, miserable sinners.