THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?

ANSWER: Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.


Q. 1. What do you understand by Christ's humiliation in general?

A. His condescending to have that glory, which he had with the Father, "before the world was," John 17:5, veiled for a time, by his coming to this lower world, to be "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," Isa. 53:3.

Q. 2. Was Christ's humiliation entirely voluntary?

A. It was voluntary in the highest degree; for, from eternity, he rejoiced "in the habitable part of the earth, and his delights were with the sons of men," Prov. 8:31.

Q. 3. What was the spring and source of Christ's humiliation?

A. Nothing but his own and his Father's undeserved love to lost mankind, Rom. 5:6; 1 John 4:10.

Q. 4. What are the several steps of Christ's humiliation, mentioned in the answer?

A. They are such as respect "his conception and birth,, his life, his death," and what passed upon him, "after his death, until his resurrection."[32]

Q. 5. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?

A. In that, being from all eternity the Son of God, "in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased, in the fullness of time, to become the Son of man, made of a woman; and to be born of her," in a very low condition, John 1:14, 18; Gal. 4:4.[33]

Q. 6. What was the low condition in which he was born?

A. He was born of a poor woman, though of royal descent, in Bethlehem, an obscure village; and there "laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn," Luke 2:4, 5, 7.

Q. 7. Why is the pedigree and descent of Christ, according to the flesh, so particularly described by the evangelists?

A. To evidence the faithfulness of God in his promise to Abraham, Gen. 22:18, and David, Psalm 132:11, that the Messiah should spring out of their seed.

Q. 8. Why was Christ born in such a low condition?

A. He stooped so low that he might lift up sinners of mankind out of the horrible pit and miry clay, into which they were plunged, Psalm 40:2.

Q. 9. What improvement ought we to make of the incarnation and birth of Christ, in such circumstances of more than ordinary abasement?

A. To admire "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich," 2 Cor. 8:9; and by faith to claim a relation to him as our kinsman, saying, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given," Isa. 9:6.

Q. 10. How did Christ humble himself in his life?

A. In being made under the law, undergoing, the miseries of this life, and the wrath of God.

Q. 11. What law was Christ made under as our surety?

A. Although he gave obedience to all divine institutions, ceremonial and political, yet it was the moral law, properly, he was made under, as our Surety, Gal. 4:4, 5.

Q. 12. How does it appear to have been the moral law he was made under?

A. Because this was the law given to Adam in his creation, and afterwards vested with the form of a covenant of works, when he was placed in paradise; by the breach of which law, as a covenant, all mankind are brought under the curse, Gal. 3:10.

Q. 13. Was Christ made under the moral law, as a covenant of works, or only as a rule of life?

A. He was made under it as a covenant of works, demanding perfect obedience, as a condition of life, and full satisfaction because of man's transgression.

Q. 14. How do you prove this?

A. From Gal. 4:4, 5 -- "God sent forth his Son -- made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law:" where it is obvious, that Christ behoved to be made under the law, in the very same sense, in which his spiritual seed, whom he came to redeem, were under it; and they being all under it as a covenant, he behoved to be made under it as a covenant likewise, that he might redeem them from its curse, Gal. 3:13.

Q. 15. What would be the absurdity of affirming that Christ was made under the law as a rule, and not as a covenant?

A. It would make the apostle's meaning, in the forecited passage, Gal. 4:4, 5, to be, as if he had said, Christ was made under the law as a rule to redeem them that were under the law as a rule, from all subjection and obedience to it; which is the very soul of Antinomianism, and quite contrary to the great end of Christ's coming to the world, which was "not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it," Matt. 5:17.

Q. 16. Why is Christ's being made under the law, mentioned as a part of his humiliation?

A. Because it was most amazing condescension in the great Lord and Lawgiver of heaven and earth, to become subject to his own law, and that for this very end, that he might fulfil it in the room of those who were the transgressors of it, and had incurred its penalty, Matt. 3:15.

Q. 17. What may we learn from Christ's being made under the law?

A. The misery of sinners out of Christ, who have to answer to God in their own persons, for their debt, both of obedience and punishment, Eph. 2:12; and the happiness of believers, who have all their debt cleared, by Christ's being made under the law in their room, Rom. 8:1.

Q. 18. What were the miseries of this life, which Christ endured in his state of humiliation?

A. Together with our nature, he took on him its sinless infirmities, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, grief, and the like, Rom. 8:3; he submitted to poverty and want, Matt. 8:20; and endured likewise the assaults and temptations of Satan, Heb. 4:15; together with the contradiction, reproach, and persecution of a wicked world, Heb. 12:3.

Q. 19. Why did he undergo all these?

A. That he might take the sting out of all the afflictions of his people, Rom. 8:28; and sympathise with them in their troubles, Isa. 63:9.

Q. 20. Were these the greatest miseries he experienced in this life?

A. No; he underwent the wrath of God also, Ps, 116:3.

Q. 21. What was it for him to undergo the wrath of God?

A. It was to suffer the utmost effects of God's holy and righteous displeasure against sin, Psalm 90:11.

Q. 22. What was it that made the human nature of Christ capable of supporting the utmost effects of the wrath of God?

A. Its union with his divine person, by which it was impossible it could sink under the weight, Isa. 50:7.

Q. 23. How could Christ undergo the wrath of God, seeing he did "always the things that please him?

A. He underwent it only as the Surety for his elect seed, on account of their sins which were imputed to him, Isa. 53:6 -- "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Q. 24. How did it appear that he underwent the wrath of God?

A. It appeared chiefly in his agony, in the garden, when he said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," Matt. 26:38; at which time, "his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground," Luke 22:44; and again, on the cross, when he "cried with a loud voice, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matt. 27:46.

Q. 25. Was not he the object of his Father's delight, even when undergoing his wrath on account of our sin?

A. Yes, surely: for though the sin of the world, which he was bearing, was the object of God's infinite hatred; yet the glorious person bearing it, was, even then, the object of his infinite love, Isa. 53:10 -- "It pleased the Lord to bruise him."

Q. 26. What may we learn from Christ's undergoing the miseries of this life, and the wrath of God?

A. "That we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," Acts 14:22; and that he is "pacified towards us, for all that we have done," Ezek. 16:63.

Q. 27. How did Christ humble himself in his death?

A. By undergoing the cursed death of the cross, Phil. 2:8.

Q. 28. Why is the death of the cross called a cursed death,?

A. Because God, in testimony of his anger against breaking the first covenant, by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, had said, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree," Gal. 3:13.

Q. 29. What evidences are there that Christ was made a curse for us in his death?

A. In as much as there was no pity, no sparing in his death; God spared him not, Rom. 8:32; and wicked men were let loose upon him like dogs and bulls, Psalm 22:12, 16.

Q. 30. How does the scripture set forth the exquisite agony of his death?

A. It tells us, that "they pierced his hands and his feet, that he was poured out like water; that all his bones were out of joint: his heart, like wax, melted in the midst of his bowels; his strength dried up like a potsherd; and his tongue made to cleave to his jaws," Psalm 22:14, 15.

Q. 31. How was Christ's death on the cross typified under the Old Testament?

A. By the brazen serpent lifted up in the wilderness, "For, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up," John 3:14.

Q. 32. Were the soul and body of Christ actually separated by death on the cross?

A. Yes; for when "he had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost," Luke 23:46.

Q. 33. Was either soul or body separated from his divine person?

A. No; it is impossible they could be, because the union of the human nature to his divine person is absolutely inviolable, Jesus being "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever," Heb. 13:8.

Q. 34. What may we learn from Christ's dying the cursed death of the cross? A. That "he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," Gal. 3:13.

Q. 35. How did Christ humble himself in what passed upon him after his death?

A. In being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time, 1 Cor. 15:4.

Q. 36. What respect was paid to the dead body of Christ before its burial? A. "Joseph of Arimathaea bought fine linen," Mark 15:43, 46, and "Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, and they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury," John 19:39, 40.

Q. 37. Where did they bury him?

A. In a "new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid," John 19:41.

Q. 38. Why was it ordered in providence, that he should be laid in a new sepulchre?

A. That none might have it to say, that it was another, and not he, that rose from the dead, Acts 4:10.

Q. 39. What do you understand by these words in the CREED, He descended into Hell?

A. Nothing else but his descent into the gave, to be under the power of death, as its prisoner, Psalm 16:10.

Q. 40. What was it that gave death power and dominion over Christ?

A. His being made sin for us, 2 Cor. 5:21.

Q. 41. Were death and the grave able to maintain their dominion over him?

A. No; because of the complete payment of all demands made upon him as a Surety, Rom. 6:9.

Q. 42. How long time did he continue under the power of death?

A. Till he rose on the third day, 1 Cor. 15:4.

Q. 43. Why did he continue so long under the power of death?

A. To show that he was really dead, this being necessary to be believed, 1 Cor. 15:3.

Q. 44. What sign, or type, was there of his continuing so long in the grave?

A. The sign of the prophet Jonas, Matt. 12:40 -- "As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Q. 45. Did he see corruption in the grave like other men?

A. No; being God's Holy One, absolutely free from sin, his body could see no corruption, Psalm 16:10.

Q. 46. What may we learn from Christ's being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time?

A. That the grave being "the place where the Lord lay," Matt. 28:6, it cannot but be sweet to a dying saint, to think that he is to lie down in the same bed; and that, in like manner, as "Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him," 1 Thess. 4:14.


[32] Larger Catechism, Question 46

[33] Ibid., Q. 47.


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