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Michael Ferrebee Sadler on Incarnation and Humility

Emmanuel, or The Incarnation of the Son of God (Oxford: 1879), pp. 236-8.

If the Incarnation of the Eternal Son, as it is set forth in the Scriptures, be a truth of God — if the Divine Person Who had glory with the Father, having taken upon Him the nature of His creature, really condescended to go through the humiliation and pain and distress which is written of Him, it stands to reason that the loving humility and abnegation of self displayed in such endurance, must be the chief feature in the character of the God-man, which we must in our degree possess, if, in the words of the Holy Ghost, Christ is to be " formed in us."

Such unspeakable condescension, springing from such submission to the will of His Father, and from such love to the fallen creatures of God, cannot be set forth by any mere creature of God’s hands. If the highest created essence had become a denizen of this world, it would have been only a servant of God exchanging temporarily one form of service for another, whereas the Incarnation is God’s own Son, one with His Father in the uncreated nature, stooping to be bounded by the limits, subservient to the conditions, and encompassed by the weaknesses of the nature of a fallen creature.

It is the Eternal Judge, coming into the place of criminals, sharing their food, wearing their dress, allowing them to treat Him as if He were one of themselves in sin. It is the Eternal Judge doing all this, not as a spectacle to impress us with His condescension, but because there was a deep need for it, for He came amongst us to redeem us from our prison bonds.

A moment’s consideration must convince us, that if this Incarnation, this Humiliation of the Eternal Son be true and real, the state of mind and will which moved Him to submit to it must be the all-pervading element in the character of the Divine Person thus submitting, so that all else in His character must be viewed in connection with it.

For if the Incarnation be true, we have the loving, condescending, forgiving mind of God in the fact of the existence of the Son of God amongst us; so that every adorable feature in the life and character of Jesus is not to be viewed as a lovely feature in the character of a good and holy fellow-man; but it is a lovely feature in the character of One Who had first to submit to an infinite humiliation in order that He might be in a condition to set us a human example at all.

So that, if there were no direct appeal made throughout Scripture to His example, our common sense (humanly speaking) would still teach us that this meek submission of the Eternal Son in assuming our nature must be the leading feature in that example of all goodness which we see in Him.

And what, granting the truth of His Incarnation, we should have reverently surmised, that, on consulting Scripture, we find to be the fact: the meekness, the submission, the condescending love of Jesus (for these things are all one in Him) form not merely the chief, but the one feature of His Character, which is set forth for our imitation. His loving humility is the one only feature of His Character which He Himself demands from us.