“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” (Phil. 2:10)
Jesus Christ cannot live-out and fulfill His unique mission in a human body…and still at the same time retain some portion of His divine, outward appearing glory.
Jesus is now in an “earthen vessel” (2 Cor. 4:7). Even though Jesus is at all times fully God and fully man…Jesus cannot walk around Israel in the first-century having a low-level exterior glow of light surrounding His body in a sort of low-calorie, sugar-free, “God-Light” aura…and fulfill the destiny that awaits Him at Calvary.
God cannot split the difference halfway between the unremarkable outward appearance of a normal human being…and the unmistakably divine glory that Jesus enjoyed as the Son of God…the Second Person of the Trinity in heaven.
In terms of outward appearances the incarnation is an all or nothing enterprise. It is a binary choice of the digits of either zero or one…a yes or no enterprise…not both. It is a “go or no-go” decision for missile launch. No fractions are allowed.
Any amount of visible, supernaturally divine light emanating around the exterior person of Jesus the son of Mary and step-son of Joseph the carpenter, growing up in Nazareth, and during His subsequent public ministry…would have tipped the salvation scale completely away from the free-will exercise of commendable faith in Christ as Savior…for all of the good and right reasons…instead of tipping the scale towards the morally bland, unexceptional, merely factual observation of the recognition of the physical phenomenon of a visually glorified Jesus Christ.
Faith in a slightly glowing Jesus Christ would be merely a physical senses observation only…to the limited end-point…where that would take us in the first-century…rather than a selective moral choice…two things that are entirely different in character and substance.
What this tells us about the character of God is that He has the breadth and depth of moral capacity to empty Himself fully of all of the advantages of the outward appearances of His glory…a necessary strategy for our sakes in meeting us where we are at…that enables the ignominious outcome of the cross on Calvary Hill.
God’s love for us is so strong, so purely motivated, so free of the excess baggage of pride and arrogance… that He can enter into the unvarnished status of a normal appearing human being as Jesus Christ from the small and unremarkable town of Nazareth (Phil. 2:5-8; Isa 9:6, 53:5)…to become the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for our sins.
The humility component of the stepping down of the Son of God from heaven into a human body is an essential factor in the eventual rejection of Jesus Christ foretold in Isaiah 53…which leads directly to the cross, the resurrection, and our eternal salvation.
This element of the cross in the life-script of Jesus Christ…and as also applied to our own Christian lives…is at a level of complexity and novelty beyond anything that human creative imagination could invent…barely touched upon in modern literary fiction.
Additionally, it can be said that it would also have been easy for Jesus the Son of God to obtain the outward appearance of worldly success and wealth as an international merchant in the first-century, for example.
And judging by the verbal exchange between the 12-year old Jesus and the rabbis in Jerusalem recorded in Luke 2:41-50, Jesus could also have stayed within the rabbinical tradition and become a world-renowned Jewish scholar.
Any and all such pursuits, however, seem beneath the unique life-script of the divine Son of God entering into a human life on earth.
The life of Jesus Christ is the perfect example of the called-out person…the called-out life.
As we read through the Sermon on the Mount…any elevated worldly status…as a military liberator or political leader…would seem totally out-of-place and out of character for the Son of God Jesus…making the fundamental case for people then and now to exchange self-sovereignty for God-sovereignty in their lives.
If we are called-out to be missionaries in the rainforests of the Amazon or in New Guinea…to be evangelists and church-planters in Africa or Western China…or to be the first-century disciples of the early Christian church sent out into the world to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ…like Peter, Paul, and the other apostles and disciples…we will experience hardship in this life in service to the gospel message (Acts 14:22).
But in the Bible, God also raises people up to worldly prominence and status…according to God’s unselfish purposes for the benefit of mankind.
Abraham is a wealthy man to the point of being able to respond quickly and assemble a small army to go and successfully fight another small army in rescue of his nephew Lot (Gen. 14:14).
Within God’s callings, plans, and guidance…Joseph becomes governor of Egypt, Moses is an equal match to Pharaoh in delivering the Israelites, and David becomes a king.
God raises-up mighty and powerful prophets that deliver the people from oppressors…and to oppose and denounce wayward kings.
Other notable names in the Bible that come to mind are Boaz, Abigail, Daniel, Esther and Mordecai, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathaea, and the “chief of Asia”…friends of Paul (Acts 19:31)…people who all experienced some elevated measure of worldly prominence and status…in service to God and other people.
So whether we are called-out to be pastors or foreign missionaries…or called-out to be federal court judges, state senators, college presidents, Bible college professors, concert pianists, professional athletes, stay-at-home moms, or successful business people…we have no one ultimately to answer to in regard to our individual callings…except God our Creator…in the leading and course of our lives (2 Tim. 4:7).
In leaving behind His outwardly appearing heavenly glory…and rejecting all claims to elevated worldly status and acclaim…Jesus Christ the Son of God creates a platform of credibility from which to offer a radically different lifestyle alternative that only the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice-for-sin could plausibly and justifiably make.
What is inexplicable in terms of humanistic literary invention…because it runs so contrary to our notion of self-sovereignty…is that Jesus is offering Himself as the leader of this alternative lifestyle expedition…dethroning us…taking our place.
When Jesus says in John 14:6…”I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”…He is exemplifying and articulating the only other alternative, major worldview possible in all of existence…the alternative of God-sovereignty in the leading of our lives.
The radical insertion of a Prince and the Pauper lifestyle journey into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…of leaving the palace to go out into the risk and adventure of the outside rough-and-tumble world (Mt. 9:10-13)…can only be actualized into real, empirical human experience by the one Person who invented and literally embodied this concept…Jesus Christ the Son of God.