What Jesus Left?
When we think of the greatest sacrifice ever given, the scene at the cross comes to mind with the Son of God nailed upon a plank of wood. How cruel man could be to another man and how shameful the act of crucifixion that would be imposed upon God’s Son! The power of love and the devotion of Christ to His Father are clearly heard in His cries in the garden and upon the cross. But let us turn the camera back to a time preceding the cross.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3,14). We see Jesus as He was before His birth and ministry upon the earth. He was with God and was God and through Him the world was made. He dwelt with God before time began and unfolded the creation of the world. He watched as man rebelled against God and the Garden of Eden was no longer a safe haven for man.
From His presence with God He beheld the terrible flood that would consume the whole earth and destroy all that had the breath of life—save eight souls and an ark full of animals. He would witness the unfolding of the history of men as they would fight and kill one another, and the chosen people of God would rise in victory in their faith and fall in defeat in their unbelief. The “time” would come as the fullness of all things had come, and He knew that to save men from their downward spiral of destruction and fear of death—He would have to become a man.
“Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). The phrase “made Himself of no reputation” means that Christ “emptied” Himself from His place with God.
The greatness of the sacrifice of Jesus is found in what He left and what He became. He was God who became man in the flesh and had to bear under the burdens of the flesh. He was tempted as all men (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; James 1:14; 1 John 2:16). He left a “realm” of all power, all knowledge and all presence for a world where He had to learn to walk as a little child and learn to talk. He “increased in wisdom” (Luke 2:52) as other children, and yet He was far beyond them all in understanding (Luke 2:46-49). He hungered where He had never hungered before. He tired and needed to sleep; yet as God, He did not weary or sleep (Isaiah 40:28).
He wept and felt anguish of heart in the deep emotions of the human spirit (John 11). He felt the pain of the whips upon His back as they beat Him unmercifully before they drove iron spikes through His flesh and nailed Him to a cross. He had not felt or known these measures of man as God. He became man to be a merciful and faithful High Priest to aid those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:17,18).
How can we understand the humanity and the deity of Jesus and not understand what He left? I wonder (and I know there is no answer) what He and His Father said or thought as Jesus left to come to the Earth? They shared glory together (John 17:5) and eternity. How shrill the cry must have been in those final gasping moments when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?,” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). How deep the pain and the sorrow must have been as He became sinand for that moment He and His Father must be separated.
What Jesus left to empty Himself will never be measured in human terms. What He gave is measured in blood. What He offers is salvation through that blood. What He gained is found in Paul’s writing: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
By Jonathan Perz
From Expository Files 20.3; February 2013