Question 27 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “In what did Christ’s humiliation consist?“
The answer given is, “Christ’s humiliation consisted in being born, and that in a poor circumstance; in being subject to God’s law; in undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God and the curse of death on the cross; in being buried; and in continuing under the power of death for a time.“
The first question that needs to be asked is, “what is meant by the word humiliation?”
The basic meaning of the word is to be brought down to a lower position. In the case of Jesus Christ, he moved from Heaven to earth and took on the limitations of being human.
Isaiah tells us:
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”Isaiah 9:6, CSB
The eternal son was given to us, born as a child. Not only was he born as a human child; he was born into a poor family. Amazingly, the creator of the universe grew up in a family with limited resources. The king of kings experienced poverty instead of privilege.
On top of this, there would always be questions surrounding his legitimacy. After all, Joseph didn’t marry Mary until after she was pregnant. People in that day could count the months just as well as we can today. I’m sure that many a gossip had some fun with the story of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
During his years of ministry, Jesus had a great impact. Many miracles are recorded in the Gospels and many more were done that remain unrecorded. But still, Jesus didn’t fix all that is wrong with the world.
I listen to the news and sometimes get overwhelmed with how much of a mess humanity has made of this world. Injustice, oppression, and murder can be found on the pages of any newspaper or on the evening news broadcast.
But the thought, which is strangely encouraging, is that all of these things were present in the world when Jesus walked the earth. The Pax Romana was maintained with cruelty and injustice. In the midst of this, Jesus showed us an example of how to stay on mission despite the circumstances around him.
We can also be encouraged by the thought that through his death on our behalf, Jesus also secured the ultimate defeat of our enemy. He will one day return to complete the victory over evil and make everything right.