Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics: Volume 2. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968.
“The Several Stages of Christ’s Humiliation and Exaltation.” (Loc. 6915)
Pieper, along with most theologians, divides the work of Christ into humiliation and exaltation. “Christ’s humiliation includes all events of His earthly life, from His conception to His burial” (Pieper 1968, Loc. 6915). Pieper has previously discussed the idea that incarnation itself is not part of humiliation. However, the mode of incarnation chosen was part of the humiliation. “This lowly mode is characteristic of the official work which Christ was to perform as the Redeemer of mankind” (Ibid., Loc. 6932). Jesus, with his goal of being a substitute for us, shared our development.
Pieper discusses the importance of not creating additional explanations of Jesus, such as childhood miracles. He grew as we do. He also emphasizes holding to the Scriptural idea of the virgin birth even though it does not make logical sense. The Scripture tells us what we need to know about this situation, not needing to be decreased or supplemented.
Pieper continues by discussing the debate over Mary’s perpetual virginity. Many have suggested that Mary did not have other children and that those called Jesus’ siblings were cousins or children of Joseph from a prior marriage. Pieper (Ibid., Loc. 6972ff) finds that there is not a biblical reason to accept or reject any of the possibilities.
According to Luke 2:52 Jesus, though sinless, did grow and learn. He took upon himself the same need to learn that we have. “Christ’s appearance in visible fom among men was in itself not a humiliation, for on Judgment Day He will appear visibly, as we learn from Matt. 25:31ff.; 1 Pet. 4:13; 2 Thess. 1:7, and other passages” (Ibid., Loc. 6994).
Having discussed incarnation and birth, Pieper turns to Christ’s suffering, which does extend to the entirety of his humiliation. The last two days, including Jesus’ death, has been called the Great Passion (Ibid., Loc. 7014). His greatest suffering was his taking on the sin of the world and knowing the rejection of the Father. “When Christ was forsaken of God, He felt the sin and guilt of all men in His soul as His own sin and guilt” (Ibid., Loc. 7014). This forsakenness, in the case of Jesus, was only temporary, as the redemption of mankind is also realized by him (Ibid., Loc. 7034). Likewise, Christ on the cross did not despair, for that is sin, but wondered at the agony of abandonment (Ibid., Loc. 7054).