THE GLORY OF CHRIST’S HUMBLING HIMSELF.
—John Owen, edited by R.J.K. Law (BoT 2020), p. 40-41.
In order to behold the glory of Christ as mediator better, let us consider the special nature of this willingness of His to humble Himself. In doing this we must first consider what He did not do when He humbled Himself to be our mediator.
(i.) Christ did not lay aside His divine nature. He did not cease to be God when He became man. The real glory of His willingness to humble Himself lies in this great truth, that ‘being in the form of God, He did not consider it robbery to be equal with God’ (Phil. 2:6). That is, being really and essentially God in His divine nature, He declared Himself to be equal with God, or with the person of the Father. He was ‘in the form’ of God, that is, He was God. He was partaker of the divine nature, for God has no form or shape. So He was equal with God, in authority, dignity and power. Because He was in the form of God, He must be equal with God, for though there is order in the divine persons, there is no inequality in the Divine Being. So the Jews clearly understood His meaning when He said God was His Father. They knew He meant that He was equal with God. For when He said this, He also claimed equal power with the Father in all His divine works. He said, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ (John 5:17).
Being in the form of God, He took the form of a servant and was found in fashion as a man (Phil. 2:7). This is His infinite humility. Paul does not say that He stopped being God, ,but though continuing to be God, He took ‘the form of a servant.’ That is, He took our nature upon Him. He became what He was not, but He did not cease to be what He always was (see John 3:13). Although He was then on earth as Son of man, yet He was still God, for in His divine nature He was still also in heaven.
He who is God, can never not be God, just as he who is not God can never be God. The difference between us and the Socinians is this, that we believe that Christ, being God, was made man for our sakes, whereas they teach that Christ, being only a man, was made a god for his own sake. This, then, is the glory of Christ’s willingness to humble Himself. This is the life and soul of all heavenly truth and all heavenly mysteries, namely, that the Son of God, becoming in time what He was not, that is, Son of man, did not cease thereby to be what He was, even the eternal Son of God.