Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Humiliation of Jesus' Death

We have been looking at the humiliation of Jesus. It has several steps. We have come to the fourth step: his death.

In the third step, we have already considered many things about Jesus’ crucifixion. In this step we do not mean the way He died, but the death itself. Just the fact that Jesus died at all, regardless of how, was humiliation.

For us to die is not humiliation because:
  • We receive what is due to us.
  • We already were low in sin.
For Jesus to die is humiliation because:
  • It was injustice. Death was not due to him.
  • He deserved glory. He came from heaven, had life in himself, was holy, and was both God and Man.
Jesus layed down his life. 

Wages and Death

Sin is the cause of death. (Gen 3:19) “As sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Rom 5:12)

When Adam and Eve fell into sin, though their bodies did not die that day, they died spiritually. They felt their separation from God. They tried to hide from him. (Gen 3:8)

“The wages of sin is death.” (Rm 6:23) Death is what we have earned by sin. For us to die is not humiliation because we have earned it.

Shame and Covering

The relation between sin and glory, sin and shame is shown in these words: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rm 3:23) By sin, we fall short of glory. By sin, we entered shame.

Adam and Eve suddenly were ashamed of their nakedness. They tried to cover it up with fig leaves. Covering is the basic idea of atonement. Kaphar is the Hebrew word for atonement in Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement. In modern times, you hear that word in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Kaphar means to cover. On that day, sin was covered by blood from animal sacrifice to foreshadow the blood of Christ.

Adam’s and Eve’s fig leaf coverings were no good. They got them without the shedding of blood. There is no covering for sin without blood. (Heb 9:22) God took the fig leaf clothing away and gave them new coverings of animal skins. (Gen 3:21) The skins came by the shedding of blood.

God’s Word: Law and Gospel

God’s gives us two words: the Law and the Gospel. The Law reigns through sin to death. The Gospel reigns through justification to eternal life. The Gospel proclaims the covering of sin under Christ’s atoning blood.

The animal skins are dead. They speak the Law of sin and death.

But the skins also came by the shedding of blood. The blood foreshadows the blood of Christ. In that, the skins speak the Gospel

Clothed in animal skins, Adam and Eve walked in both death and life, death in their own sin, but life by the promise of the coming of Christ and his blood sacrifice for us.

Death and Dignity

As calloused as we are to sin, we do have some feelings of aversion to death, though not like we should. Euthanasia is gaining support so that we can have “death with dignity.” The process of dying, we say, is degrading.

If the process of dying is degrading for sinners, then why can’t we see that it was degrading and humiliating for Jesus to die?

In Him Was Life

Because Jesus was the Second Adam and did not fall into sin, he was not walking dead like Adam and all his children. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (Jn 1:4) His light is glory (Is 60:1; 2 Cor 4:4, 6), and by the shining of his light he shares glory with men. (Jn 1:9; Phil 2:15)

Jesus is the bread of life that came down from heaven. (Jn 6:35, 51) In heaven, in the bosom of the Father, he had eternal life. When God the Son became man by being born of the virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit created an indissoluble union of his divine and human natures. He always had his divine nature from eternity. His human nature was new.

By itself, Jesus’ human nature did not have life. “As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (Jn 5:26) The divine nature in Jesus already had life in himself. In the Incarnation, the Father granted the human nature in Jesus to also have life in himself.[1]

No One is Like Him

There is no one like him. Jesus is unique. He is unique because:
  • He came from heaven. Everyone else came from earth. Adam was made from dust.
  • He was holy. Everyone else was a sinner.
  • He had life in himself. Everyone else was dead in trespasses and sins, or had life only by faith in the promise that Christ would come and atone for sin.
  • He was both God and man. We are only man, and we are ungodly.
The glory due to his incomparable Person is enormous. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14)

Injustice and Humiliation

For Jesus to die is quite a different thing than it is for us to die. For Jesus, to die was an injustice. It was humiliation.

In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth. (Acts 8:33)

While we were sinners and weak, Christ died for us, the ungodly. (Rm 5:6, 8) Paul wrote, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3)

Jesus volunteered to humiliate himself in death. He volunteered for the injustice of it. He did this to give us a new birth, a birth from above. (Jn 3:1-8)


1.  The giving of life by the Father to the Son in no way refers to his divine nature from eternity. In no way does it support any claim of subordination of the Son to the Father. The Son already had life in himself in heaven. But when he came down from heaven and was made man, his humanity would not have had life in himself unless the Father granted that. The granting by the Father in Jn 5:26 is restricted to a granting to Jesus’ human nature, not a granting to his divine nature. See R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Augsburg, 1943), pp. 393-94.



  1. Francis Schaeffer said that the fig leaves were a “patch-work” covering at best consisting of many pieces. Only the blood of the Messiah can provide a seamless covering: One piece perfectly fit for everyone.

    Your last two postings on the crucifixion are graphic but I found them very informative. While they may seem too vivid for some I believe they are timely and need to be presented in a poignant fashion. I congratulate you on presenting this in a very sophisticated and tactful manor. It really helps me have a more profound understanding of what the Messiah had to do to make salvation available to me. Sometimes we get so hung-up on what we have to do when the real driving force of salvation always starts and ends with what He did, not on what we do. Thank-you

  2. Thank you, Aurelius, for such kind words. They are a great encouragement. That has been the most difficult assignment I gave myself on this blog so far, to tell the humiliation of crucifixion with enough graphics to make the point, but not so many or with such a presentation as would lead away from the point.

    May God bless you richly during this Lenten season.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.