The movie, The Passion of the Christ brought home Jesus’ physical suffering in a powerful, guttural way. Whereas we previously might have thought, “what a horrible way to die,” watching that movie helped us internalize the torture, the pain, the humiliation, the power of Jesus’ final day in his human, physical state.
But for some of us, the more significant sacrifice of Jesus was the one he made in heaven. He set aside his divinity and became human for our sake. This sacrifice is harder for us earthly folk to comprehend because we haven’t experienced heaven yet. We “know” that heaven is glorious, that it is beautiful, that being in God’s presence is exceptional in the extreme. But we don’t quite understand it.
That makes it hard for us to comprehend the sacrifice Jesus made when he left heaven; left the presence of being in the Trinity; left the place where he was God and was with God. So because we cannot comprehend that part of his sacrifice, we focus on the one we can understand: the physical torture, humiliation and death.
But when we focus on only one of those sacrifices do we dilute its power. Jesus was not only the Son of Man; he was also the Son of God.
Oswald Chamber’s head-whacking devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, pointed this out, reminding us that Satan was there at Jesus’ crucifixion, just as Satan was in the desert, tempting Jesus to use his power to save himself. After the time in the desert,
“The Devil left to return at a more opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)
How much more opportune time is there than when Jesus faced torture, humiliation and death in such a cruel way? And how much more opportune than the last opportunity to do so in Jesus’ earthly life?
But Jesus was also the physical incarnation of God. He was the Son of Man—a flesh and blood human who was not only God, but man as well. Oswald reminds us: “The Cross of Christ was a triumph for the Son of Man.”
There was never a question that God would triumph as Son of God. As Son of God, Satan could not touch or tempt Jesus.
But as Son of Man, Satan could attack Jesus on the basis of his humanity. And he did. But because Jesus, as Son of Man, was tempted and came through for us despite his humanity, we were saved. Despite Jesus’ humanity and because of it.
This point crystallized in my mind this morning. The sacrifices Jesus made as the Son of God (setting aside his divinity temporarily) and as the Son of Man (overcoming temptation and dying a human death) are both of equal greatness. Without the sacrifice as the Son of God, Jesus would not have become human and would not have been able to offer his human, physical life. Likewise, without the sacrifice as Son of Man, Jesus would not have been tempted and have overcome that temptation, to give his human, physical life for our sake.
Praise God for His plan and for His plans within plans.
And thank you, Oswald for another head-whacking devotional.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? Share your thoughts about the two different forms of sacrifice that Jesus made for our sake.
(For other readers of Oswald Chambers, this post was based on the devotional for April 5. This is a repost from my guest appearance at Deborah K. Anderson's Faith, Fiction and the Unvarnished Truth.)