John’s Gospel: The Baptism of Jesus, Part 7

Conclusion

I believe the Son of God has been divine (a member of the Godhead) co-eternally with God. He took on human form when he was born to Mary, and in so doing, he surrendered most of what it means to be part of God. He became finite and fully human. And yet he retained knowledge of God.

His miraculous powers came via the Spirit (Matt 12:28). It was essential that he give up his powers so that he could suffer as humans suffer and be tempted as humans are tempted. He had to give up his powers so that, like us mortals, he had to rely on God.

(Heb 2:18 ESV)  18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

(Heb 4:15 ESV)  15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

(1Pe 2:21 ESV) 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Therefore, both the baptism and transfiguration of Jesus were moments when God testified that Jesus is the Son of God, but neither is the moment when he became a part of the Godhead. He already was.

On the other hand, the scriptures speak of Jesus receiving honor and glory when he ascended to heaven —

(Phi 2:9-11 ESV) 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(1Co 15:27-28 ESV)  27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.  28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

(Mat 28:18 ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

(Eph 1:20-23 ESV)  20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

The thought is that although Jesus emptied himself, he did not remain emptied. God did not let the Son remain a servant.

Evidently, Jesus, in his self-emptying, had sacrificed the ability to regain his former status on his own. He had to trust God to accomplish this, because it is God the Father who rewarded him for his sacrifice. Jesus didn’t merely reclaim what was always his. Rather, it is God who elevated him to his right hand. (Imagine what it must have been like to take on human form — giving up the ability to return to heaven on his own terms! It was a remarkable act of faith in God to restore him to heaven.)

The language is the language of co-regency, where a father and son rule a kingdom as kings together, which was common in the ancient world, including Judea and Rome. God enthroned Jesus.

One could fairly ask how big a deal that was to Jesus, given that he had left glory to come to earth. Was he merely being restored to his former station or was God elevating him somehow? It was certainly an improvement over his human existence! But did he somehow move up within the Godhead? Does it even make sense to ask such questions?

I really just don’t know. In each case, the point the author is making is that, just as God has elevated Jesus to the throne of heaven, because we are in Jesus, we will participate in Jesus’ glory — even sitting on Jesus’ throne with him.

(Eph 2:4-6 ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved–  6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

We will be kings because we are in Christ, and therefore a part of the King. We will share in Jesus’ elevation and glory, because we share in his death and his resurrection.

That’s the point of these passages. While it’s great fun and intellectually challenging to ponder the dual nature of Jesus on earth, we miss the point when we get very far away from the point the authors were making: that we share in the nature of Jesus.

We are called to empty ourselves just as Jesus did. We are called to trust God to bring us into his presence. We are to be willing to suffer in this life, if that’s God will for us, for the sake of his Kingdom and his mission. We, like Jesus, should confidently expect to be resurrected. We should even expect to one day be enthroned with God.

Like David in the wilderness and Jesus while on earth, we’ve been anointed kings but we’re in the desert, our kingship not yet recognized. Like David and Jesus, there are those who wish us dead.

Our place is to trust in God, to empty ourselves, to patiently await the moment when God elevates us to a throne in heaven, and to trust that God will work it out.

As David refused to lift a hand against Saul, and as Jesus refused to call a legion of angels to rescue him, we count on God to exalt us just as he’s exalted Jesus.

In the meantime, we share in God’s mission on earth. Just as Jesus’ baptism initiated his mission on earth, our baptism commissions us with God’s own mission to help bring about the Kingdom in its fullness. We continue the work of Jesus as his body on earth.

That’s the point.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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