The Son humbling Himself
Christís humiliation consisted of several stages.
1. His being made of a woman, his incarnation was a stooping down to reach us in our condition. He became man to save men; he became poor to enrich poor people.
This involved an insuperable condescension, especially when we keep in mind that it was the infinite God who was locally born in Bethlehem, the Almighty who became so weak, the All-wise who became ignorant.
2. He was also made under the Law, the same Law that he promulgated at Sinai. The Supreme Legislator took the role of a mere man, subject to law in all its aspects. And though he deserved live because of his complete obedience, he actually suffered the penalty and the curse of the Law - on behalf and instead of his people.
3. His sufferings and death. We cannot imagine adequately how uncomfortable Christ must have been while tabernacling among men who showed continual opposition to God, expressing indifference and hatred to spiritual things. In this sense he was an outcast, finding hardly any sympathy. His physical sufferings are nothing compared to his spiritual agonies. His death was a humiliation since it was the Prince of Life who died, unrecognised and abandoned even by His heavenly Father.
4. His enduring the Wrath of God. A real humiliation indeed, since it was not for his own disobedience (he was absolutely sinless!) but on behalf of ungrateful sinners that he drank the bitter cup. He was willing to be made sin for us, who knew no sin, not for his own benefit but for the benefit of others.
5. His burial indicates his humiliation because dead people are to be put out of sight. Thus "dust to dust" became applicable to Him, even though it was He who pronounced it in the first place.
Hymns expressing Christís humiliation
The church of the Firstborn has spontaneously expressed her joy and thankfulness by singing hymns expressing Christís humiliaton of her behalf.
"Behold, the great Creator makes Himself a house of clay; a robe of human flesh he takes which He will wear for aye." - Thomas Pestel, c.1584.
"What grace, O Lord, and beauty shone around Thy steps below! What patient love was seen in all Thy life and death of woe!" Edward Denny, 1796-1889.
"Alas and did my Saviour bleed and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" I.Watts.
"When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride." I.Watts.
Christ subject to the Law
Christ had to subject himself to the law in three aspects.
1. Christ had to be obedient to the law as given originally to Adam as a covenant of works to prove himself a qualified second Adam, the head of a new organism, the church of God.
Where Adam failed, Christ succeeded and thus honoured His Father.
2. Christ subjected himself to the Law of Moses so that it would be fulfilled in him. He is the end of the Law for everyone who believes. If he had broken the least commandment, then our salvation from the yoke of the Law would have been impossible.
3. Besides, as man, he obeyed the moral law because it was his duty. His death was a definite penalty which he endured because of the transgressions of his people, not his. Thus the terrors of the law have nothing to do with his redeemed. Romans 8:1.
God contracted to a span?
It is false to refer to the Incarnation as the eternal Logos as "confining Himself" to the human body of Jesus of Nazareth, i.e., "God contracted to a span" (C. Wesley).
This quote from Wesley, if taken poetically, might not be objectionable, but it can easily be misunderstood. And knowing how people are apt to shape their theology from the hymnal rather than from Scripture, I would prefer to delete it from my mind.
For God, being infinite and perfect in all his attributes, cannot be contracted to a measurable span. The Son of God, equal with the Father, is immense and omnipresent; it is patently false to say that He confined himself to the human body of Jesus. This is an absurd proposition for the finite cannot contain the infinite.
Scripture confirms what I say, for just as much as it says that "in Him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of deity in bodily form" (Colossians 2), it also says that the Son of Man, being manifest on earth was just as much in heaven (John 3:13).
At the Incarnation the Logos, being God, assumed to himself a human soul and body. Thus when John says that "the Word became flesh," he is in no way intimating that the Logos ceased to be God and was transformed into something else, that is, man.
Rather the mystery is that God, while remaining necessarily God (immutability), was manifest in human flesh. As a human being Christ was confined, in knowledge, space, locality and so on; as the Son of God, he continued to be infinite, omniscient, and so on.