Mild He lays His glory by
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:It is a curious thing for God to become man; for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us. We are about to celebrate the day when the Son of God was born a baby in Bethlehem; when Christ emptied Himself and laid His glory by; born that man no more may die. He surrendered aspects of His divinity to assume the mantle of humanity: as the ancient creeds remind us, He was fully man and yet fully God.
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Phil 2:5-7)
The Incarnation is complex theology wrapped in an unfathomable mystery, and here is not the place to unpack the nuances of kenotic doctrine. Those who wish to focus on the absurdity of human omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence miss the point: in both His human and divine natures, Jesus was and is perfect love, incomprehensible peace and unadulterated truth.
He spent nine months in Mary's womb, floating around in amniotic fluid. Now why would the only begotten Son God do that? Some say that He wasn't really God, but one who attained a sort of enlightenment, a bit like Buddha. Others are happy to believe that he was a prophet who foretold or forthtold the purposes of God; who showed his followers a better way, a bit like Mohammed. Still others are happy to believe the mystery of divine chimera; Jesus as a sort of Ganesh-like elephant man, strutting his stuff in the pantheon of gods.
But Jesus is also called 'Immanuel', meaning 'God with us'. If He was and is the same yesterday, today and forever, he is not merely enlightened, prophetic or mysterious; he is the Lord, the Creator, the Spirit, for the Three are One and of one substance.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:God emptied Himself of His glory in order that we might be saved - and all who call on His name will be saved. John Calvin writes: "In order to exhort us to submission by His example, he shows, that when as God he might have displayed to the world the brightness of His glory, he gave up His right, and voluntarily emptied Himself; that he assumed the form of a servant, and, contented with that humble condition, suffered His divinity to be concealed under a veil of flesh."
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (Jn 17:1-11)
Mild He lays His glory by, under the veil of flesh: Immanuel, God with us, veiled as a baby in the womb of a young girl called Mary. His creation glory has gone; his salvation suffering has begun; his resurrection glory is yet to come. In a way, Jesus was scourged and crucified in the womb.
God incarnate waiting to be born, waiting to suffer, waiting to die, waiting to be raised.
As we await the birth of the perfect baby boy, the advent of the Promise, let us reflect on the magnitude of the glory He laid by, that we no more may die.