If we are anything like the people portrayed in the Bible, we wish “God with us” were much more tangible. Which of us does not sometimes question, as the first disciples did, why it is better for us if Christ (our physical proof of God’s reality, power, and love) returns to heaven and sends the invisible Comforter, Counselor, Holy Spirit in His stead? Since Jesus said it, we accept it. Nonetheless, immeasurable as it is we wrestle with it. If only we could get a better grip on HOW it is better! ~ Dr. Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos
Simultaneous Death and Life?
Immeasurable – the cost of our salvation. When Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross, much more happened than a physical death. The book of Romans reminds us that sin entered the world through one human’s decision to disregard God’s way and to act on his own authority. This first expression of sin did not cause Adam and Eve to immediately drop dead physically. Physical death came to them some time later. Neither did they lose their capacity to hear God’s voice. But sin’s consequences were indeed profound. Humanity tasted autonomy, a separation of self from the Source of all life, goodness, truth, and love.
The branch disconnected itself from the vine and sought sustenance elsewhere. The evils, pains, and sufferings that followed in Adam and Eve’s lives and in the lives of all their progeny demonstrate the devastating results of that initial separation.
Adam and Eve were not the first creatures ever to taste autonomy. But they were the first human beings to taste it, and in doing so they placed themselves, their family, and all their descendants in the camp of God’s enemy, the instigator of all insubordination and evil: Satan.
Who could repair such damage? Adam was helpless to do so, however remorseful he may have been. No human after him could accomplish the repair, for each was born of that separated branch. The angels, however magnificent and obedient, lacked the capacity to carry it out.
Only God Himself could make the mend.
Beyond Our Imagining
The Incarnation is described in the second chapter of Philippians as Christ’s becoming “nothing.” Such a statement does not deny the wonder and worth of human beings, but it does express the immeasurable magnitude of Christ’s divestiture in accepting life as a human. The humility He demonstrated in coming to us and dying for us exemplifies the humility we need in coming to Him. His example of humility, rather than hinting at any weakness or inferiority, indicates just the opposite – the moral perfection of God alone.
The differences made by the dimensional gap between our existing four dimensions, and the seven-or-more dimensions between us and God makes the statement “becoming nothing” even more significant to the degree of what Christ gave up to become one of us in order to save us.
What is more, the Incarnation and the Atonement show us God’s capacity to operate in any dimensional realm, any combination of space and time dimensions (or super dimensions) He chooses. He can also manifest different aspects of Himself in different dimensional realms. The reality in which He can live and move supersedes by far the limits of human imagination. And yet we know He wants us to try to imagine it, to anticipate our future in it, because He gave us sneak previews – in His Word, in His creation, in His Incarnation, and in His Atonement.
In one moment – for Him, what could be an eternal moment because of His extra dimensions of Time – Christ crossed the divide caused by sin. The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,” taking into Himself the wound of separation, the enmity or wrath of God against sin. In a human body, He proved His perfect obedience, His wisdom, and His power to live – and die – with the capacity for autonomy and yet wholly (“holy”) attuned to the Father’s will.
He lived up to God’s perfection and qualified Himself to pay the ransom price, namely His own death, for the penalty incurred by humanity’s sin. His death in the physical dimensions of time and space was real, not feigned, an experience He chose to undergo on our behalf.
But He also experienced the indescribable, immeasurable spiritual torment of hell, of being shut out (in some way we cannot picture), from His Father’s approbation. Jesus knew of what was to come (see Mark 8:31). The agony He faced was going to be more than physical; it would be spiritual and emotional, as well. Jesus knew that God’s will was to crush Him, to allow Him to be “pierced for our transgressions” and wounded for our healing (Isaiah 53:5–10). His humanity dreaded the pain and sorrow He faced, and it drove Him to ask His Father, “Let this cup pass from me.”
Nevertheless, but GOD.
To be continued….
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
Content Hugh Ross: ‘Beyond the Cosmos’ 3rd Edition