Act 1: His Humiliation
Scene 2: The Demonstration
In this next scene the Son of God, now called Jesus, is revealed as a servant, fulfilling the portrait of a servant introduced by Isaiah the prophet hundreds of years earlier. But now the heavenly audience sits in quiet amazement as they watch the prophecy take on reality. The Creator of the universe, the One who spoke the entire universe into existence is living in obscurity, doing the work of peasants and common laborers just to make a living. They watch him get tired, hungry, sweaty, and blistered. But the hardest is to watch him be mistreated, rejected, and misunderstood.
The Apostle Paul reflecting on this scene years later writes, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (Phil 2:6-7).
Throughout this scene, truth walks in a body, light enters darkness, mystery takes on clarity, and power takes on poverty. For thirty some years, omnipresence takes on space, omnipotence gets tired, and grace walks in sandals. The angelic audience sits, wondering when Jesus will finally unleash his power, reveal his identity, and vindicate his glory. How long will this humiliation go on?
Yet as Jesus lives out his humble life demonstrating patience and gentleness and serving rather than being served, something more is taking place. On the surface he is our example, but at a much deeper level, he is our substitute. He is living in total alignment with his Father’s will. He lives as the second Adam in the way the first Adam should have. His total obedience to the Father will give him the right to represent all of humanity and become the substitute for their unrighteousness.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
During his short 30 plus years on planet earth, Jesus never traveled far from his home town. He spent most of his time among the poor and common people of a small but contentious nation that was a PS in the grand Roman Empire. He never wrote a book, trying for the most part to stay out of the view of the politicians and religious elite. He mostly taught about the arrival of the kingdom of God and what life in that kingdom looks like. His message was as counter cultural then as it is now. It was received with curiosity and skepticism. Yet he boldly claimed that this kingdom was now accessible, he was the only doorway to it, and he was the rightful ruler of it.
The crowds, initially curious, even amazed at the authority of his teaching, took every opportunity to have him heal their sick, cast out their demons, and serve them a free meal. They hoped that he would eventually use his power to liberate their nation from the oppression of Rome, giving them the peace that they had so long been waiting for. They were willing even to promote him from rabbi to king if he would only do it now. But as it became frustratingly apparent that a physical kingdom was not his agenda, they turned on him, accusing him with made up crimes and charges.
The angelic audience watches with increased anxiety as this scene goes from bad to worse. The storm clouds are gathering. They are realizing that if the plan is to gain a broad market for his message, it isn’t working. Opposition mounts. The religious rulers are obstinately set on getting rid of him. The few friends and followers he has are scared, confused, and unpredictable. Then just when it seems like it couldn’t get worse, it suddenly did.
Act 1: His Humiliation
Scene 3: The Crucifixion
The final scene in Act 1 (His Humiliation) lasts only a few days. However, the impact of this defining moment will be felt at a cosmic level for ever. In the natural 2-dimensional world, an obscure rabbi is unjustly accused and murdered for religious blasphemy. Maybe a big deal to a small religious sect at a brief moment in time, but certainly not something that would be remembered very long or change the direction of history. Caesar could…maybe. Alexander the Great for sure, but not this one they call Jesus.
Since the Jewish leaders no longer have the right to use capital punishment, they threaten the Roman magistrate with possible insurrection. They claim that the rabbi Jesus has been announcing his right to be their new king. That did it. Pilot gives in to their demands and after a beating and phony trial, Jesus is crucified on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem. By all rights, this should finish the story. He lived. He died. The end. Even his friends, as they put his body in a borrowed tomb, felt the disappointment and end of what was once a ray of hope. Maybe in the future some will see him as a good man with a big heart or even a decent example to emulate. He certainly had some great one liners and stories worth remembering.
But on a higher, spiritual dimension, this defining moment was the fulfillment of a masterplan laid out in the eternal mind of the Trinity before the earth was formed. The Son of God becomes Jesus, the Son of Man, who then becomes the Savior of the world. The accumulative sin of humanity is placed on the innocent, perfect Lamb of God.
Paul reflecting on this scene a few year later said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
The ultimate “coup” is pulled off, rebellion is contained, the final sacrifice is made, sin is consolidated, God’s wrath is expiated, and the Trinity experiences separation. At the cross God’s love meets His holiness in a brilliant display of grace. Creation is liberated from the curse of sin and the bruised heel has finally crushed Satan’s head.
The angelic hosts never saw it coming. They had never seen such a display of undeserving love. Now grace takes on a new dimension, mercy is redefined, and love becomes iridescent. They could hardly wait for the next Act to begin. “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!” Read His Story (1)