Submission: In the Godhead

In trying to describe God, we are limited in both comprehension and expression. We speak of “three persons in the Godhead,” attempting to summarize the Bible truths concerning the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is known as the doctrine of “The Trinity.” These divine persons are co-eternal and co-equal in power and glory. They work together in perfect harmony, as can be shown from many passages of Scripture.

The Father and the Son

Before the creation of the universe, the eternal Son of God existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit in a realm of divine glory. Shortly before His arrest, trial and crucifixion, He prayed: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (Joh 17:5).[1] John the Baptist also alluded to the greatness and superiority of Christ as manifested by His pre-existence: “He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me” (1:15). The apostle John opened his Gospel with the declaration: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1).

When Adam and Eve fell into sin, the creation was spoiled and separation came in between men and God. As a result of this, degeneration and death became the marks of the human race and the physical world. But God has always had a glorious plan of redemption; its ultimate aim was His own glory, the honor of His Son, the rescue of perishing sinners, and the restoration of a blighted world. It was not an emergency plan, conceived in haste, but rather Christ our Redeemer was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1Pe 1:20).

The Servant Son

The role of a servant was new to the Son of God when He willingly entered our world through incarnation: “The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1Jn 4:14). Christ was marked by total submission and perfect obedience to His Father’s will. He confessed, “A body hast thou prepared me …. Lo, I come … to do thy will, O God” (Heb 10:5,7). The downward steps of the Savior were detailed by Paul in writing to the Philippians: “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: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself” (2:6-8). The voluntary “emptying” of the Son of God can be thought of as complete deity being emptied into perfect humanity. He was no less God during His time upon earth than He had been in eternity in heaven. Yes, certain prerogatives of deity were veiled during His earthly ministry, but it is not difficult to trace His omniscience and omnipotence in His dealings with fallen humanity. John wrote that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Joh 1:14).

The Savior was born in humble circumstances in Bethlehem – no luxury maternity suite for Mary – and grew up in despised Nazareth. Even from boyhood, He was dedicated to carrying out His Father’s will: “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luk 2:49). Later He would declare, “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (Joh 8:29).

He learned the manual trade of carpentry from Joseph, and for the first 30 years He lived in relative obscurity. Nonetheless, the divine commentary on those “hidden” years was given at His baptism in the River Jordan, when the heavens were opened and the Father declared, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mar 1:11). He showed Himself to be the perfect Servant of Jehovah, as Isaiah had prophesied (Isa 42:1), and the One whom Mark portrayed as being always busy. He was also anointed, filled and led by the Spirit of God – another important aspect of His voluntary submission (Luk 4:1,14,18).

The Suffering Son

Mark’s Gospel is often linked with the picture of an ox, being ready not only for service but also for sacrifice. Christ was aware of the pathway of suffering that lay ahead, culminating in His rejection and crucifixion (Luk 12:50). In this too He would voluntarily submit to the Father’s will. The Scripture says, “Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb 5:8). This does not mean that He was ever disobedient and needed correction, but only that, before He came into the world, He never had to suffer. Nonetheless, experientially, He was willing to do so, so that those who were lost and dead in their sins could be found and given eternal life (Luk 19:10). His motivation was love.

Early in His public ministry, His enemies began plotting to destroy Him (Mar 3:6). He was aware of their murderous intentions and of those who would be instrumental in carrying them out. And yet, we are sure that the feet of Judas, His known betrayer, were washed as tenderly as those of the other disciples. When the time drew near, He spoke of His “hour” having come. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luk 22:42). Once again, He willingly accepted that this was the only way. His prayer did not represent a conflict of wills. He did not resist arrest. He did not try to escape. He did not loudly protest. He was led “as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa 53:7).

He did not flinch from the shameful and painful treatment He endured. The prophet foretold this: “I gave my back to the smiters … I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isa 50:6). It is an instinctive human reaction to shield oneself from assault, but He was different. His wounds were many and varied but there is no record of any “defense wounds.” Deeper still He went as God forsook Him when our sins and judgement were laid upon Him. The nadir of His suffering was the acme of His love. That blessed One willingly bore the yoke of service and the cross of suffering for you and me. What a Savior!

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.