Bosom, Burial, Banishment – Step 5 in the Humiliation of Christ

Bosom

Jesus from eternity was in the bosom of the Father.

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)

Skip the dead illustrations of the Trinity and get sight of this biblical picture: bosom. Here is a word we can see, we can handle, and we can touch. Here is a word we know. Jesus is in the bosom of the Father.

The prophet Nathan, when confronting David over his sin with Bathsheba, used the word “bosom” in a tender image.

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. (II Samuel 12:1-3)

That lamb lay in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Jesus, Lamb of God, is in the bosom of the Father, and He is son to Him.

By rights, then, Jesus could have displayed his glory as the Son of God in the bosom of the Father. But He didn’t. Jesus kept voluntarily hiding his glory by his: birth in poverty, life of suffering, crucifixion, and death.

In those four steps, something of Jesus could be seen, even if it was only poverty, suffering, crucifixion, and death. But in burial, the hiding of glory was complete. Jesus was in the ground behind a stone, completely out of sight, and that is only one layer of his burial’s humiliation.

Burial does nothing to our glory because dust and sin have no glory. Jesus was not from dust, and He was holy. Burial did something to his glory. Burial humiliated him.

Dust to Dust

God told Adam, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.’’ (Genesis 3:19) “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20) “You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” (Psalm 104:29)

When men die, they return to their dust. Dust is our place.

Heaven to Dust

Adam came from dust, but Jesus came from heaven. “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47) Dust is our place. Heaven is Jesus’ place.

But Jesus humbled himself and took our place. For Jesus to be buried was not a return to his place of glory as the Lord from heaven in the bosom of the Father. It was descent into our place of dust and dishonor.

Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me; yes, let him trample my life to the earth, and lay my honor in the dust. (Psalm 7:5)

The burial of Adam mingled dust with dust, but the burial of Jesus mingled dust with gold, yet gold hardly says it.

Sin and Dust

Dust refers to the curses for sin.

Because the Devil sinned by tempting Adam and Eve, God cursed him. His curse was to eat dust.

The Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed …; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust. (Genesis 3:14)

For Adam’s sin, God said, “Cursed is the ground for your sake.” (Genesis 3:17) He cursed the dust from which Adam came and to which Adam would go in burial. Under the curse, the field brought forth weeds with the crop. (Genesis 3:18) Jesus used weeds as symbols of sinners sewn by the Devil. (Matthew 13:24-30) After pronouncing this curse, God next said, “for out of it [the ground] you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) Adam was buried in the ground cursed for his sin.

When Jesus volunteered to be buried, He hid his holiness under the sign of sin, curse, and wickedness. “He assigned His grave with wicked men.” (Isaiah 53:9).

The Dust of Threshing

John the Baptist used threshing as an illustration of judgment. He said about Messiah:

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)

Winnowing means letting wind blow through what has been gathered from the field onto the threshing floor. The gathering was a mixture of chaff, dust, and wheat. Farmers used forks to toss the mixture into the air. The wind blew away the chaff and dust. The wheat fell to the threshing floor and was saved. John spoke of burning the chaff with fire. The Old Testament compared destruction to being made “like the dust at threshing.”

There was not left to Jehoahaz [much of] an army … for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing. (2 Kings 13:7)

In burial, Jesus went to dust and was under the judgment of God.

Royal Glory and Dust

The Bible pictures dust as the opposite of royal glory. The Lord said to King Jehu, “I lifted you out of the dust and made you ruler over My people Israel.” (1 Kings 16:2) In Hannah’s prayer, she said,

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory. (1 Samuel 2:8)

A couple verses in Psalm 113 “look back to the song of Hannah.”[1]

He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes. (Psalm 113:7-8)

These verses “anticipate the great downward and upward sweep of the gospel”[2] which was to go deeper than the dust of Adam and higher than thrones of earthly princes. In his resurrection, Jesus would be seated far above all principality and power at the Father’s right hand. He would be given a Name above all names. (Ephesians 1:21-22) He would be the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16) But first, his burial took him deeper than Adam’s dust.

From Bosom to Banishment

During Jesus’ burial in dust, He was deposed from his throne of glory, down to the lowest pit, adrift among the dead, forgotten by his Father, cut off from his Father’s hand, in darkness and in depths, under his Father’s wrath, and alone.

I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,
Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.
You have laid me in the lowest pit,
In darkness, in the depths.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them. (Psalm 88:4-6)

“There is no sadder prayer in the Psalter.”[3] Jesus was “being treated like the wicked.”[4] He was under God’s wrath on our sin. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

For our sin, Jesus descended from the bosom of the Father to burial and “banishment”[5] by his Father. He did this to bring us to his Father. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

________________________

[1] Derek Kidner, Palms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III –V of the Psalms, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975), p. 402.

[2] Id.

[3] Id., p. 316.

[4] Id., p. 318.

[5] Id.

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.

Comments

Bosom, Burial, Banishment – Step 5 in the Humiliation of Christ — 9 Comments

  1. You write, “During Jesus’ burial in dust, He was deposed from his throne of glory, down to the lowest pit, adrift among the dead, forgotten by his Father, cut off from his Father’s hand, in darkness and in depths, under his Father’s wrath, and alone.”
    If Psalm 88 is not about the suffering, death, and descent into hell of our Lord, then there is no other scriptural evidence to support this statement. Relatively few people believe that it is.
    If you believe that there could ever be conflict between members of the Most Holy Trinity, then it is possible that this statement is true.
    Much depends on our understanding of Christ’s “glory.” Often, when we say “humiliation”, He says, “glory”, because His ways are not our ways.
    On the night He was betrayed, John 13:31-32, “When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.’” John 17:1-5,” When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
    On the cross, He said to the Penitent Thief, Luke 23:43. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” We do not know whether the descent into hell took place before that or after that, but there is no sense of God’s wrath or abandonment here. After all, this was God Himself speaking.
    We know very little from Scripture about Christ’s descent into hell. We do know that He was there (1 Peter 3:18-20) to “make proclamation” or to “preach” to those who were there. Nothing about being abandoned by the Father or under His wrath.
    The purpose of our Lord’s life, suffering, and death was to reconcile mankind to God; that is to Himself, to the Father, and to the Holy Spirit. When He said, John 19:30, “It is finished,” there was nothing more to be done. Even if you believe that Christ was under the Father’s wrath at this time, it is difficult to make a case that this wrath continued after “it was finished.” At which point and why did the Father begin to love His Son again? I have actually seen pastors write, “He abandoned His own Son; therefore He will never abandon me.” I have never heard a greater absurdity or logical fallacy.
    Our salvation did not involve God the Father relieving Himself of His wrath. What happened on Golgotha was that God the Son, “for the joy that was held before Him” (Hebrews 12:2), offered Himself as a sacrifice to His Father for the sins of the world, as had been determined before the world was made. The Father never once stopped loving Him or abandoned Him. All three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity acted in perfect unison, because “God so loved the world.”
    I wish someone else had taken on the task of commenting on this posting. You, my dear pastors and scholars have neglected your duty.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  2. When I, admitting that I do not agree with everything in the Book of Concord, make a comment, immediately a number of people take me to task. When, as in this case, someone writes something that is clearly in total opposition to what the Confessions teach about Christ’s descent into hell, there is not a peep. Nobody to suggest to the author that he get guidance from his pastor, or to volunteer to instruct him in orthodox doctrine! Why is that?
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  3. I don’t think the OP is talking about the descent into hell. If it is, it’s wrong.

    I’m not sure that it’s right even if it’s not talking about the descent into hell. I need to think about it.

  4. @Rev. Charles Lehmann #5

    OK. Going back to the Original Post again, I read it as being entirely about Christ’s death and burial, the last bit of humiliation to atone for the sins of the whole world.
    It was all necessary, or God, Who cannot stand sin, would have found it as necessary to obliterate us all as He did the world before the Flood, as He did Sodom & Gomorrah for their unrepentant sin.

    Christ redeemed the whole world by His birth, life, death and burial for our sins, because He had none Himself.

    His descent into Hell is not humiliation but the beginning of the announcement of victory over death. Peter says “He preached to the spirits which were in prison.” Then, having announced His victory in Hell, Christ rose from the dead and showed it on earth. Finally, after 40 days, He ascended in the presence of witnesses into heaven.

    No, I don’t think the “thief on the cross” had to wait 40 days, earth time.
    There are two ways of looking at him: one, that the thief died to time, and that any occasion after his death would have been “with Christ in Paradise”.

    Two, Christ told Mary Magdalen on Easter morning not to touch Him “for He hadn’t yet ascended to His Father”.

    The easiest thing to believe is that Christ, risen, was in heaven on Easter morning and also, as He chose to show Himself, at various places on earth, omnipresent but not always visible.
    The “Ascension” was not the first time He went to heaven, but the last time the witnesses saw Him on earth.

    That is how I’ve explained it to myself and “your mileage may vary”. 🙂

    Your comments may, also.

    [As far as referring the author to his Pastor goes, anyone who’s looked up his Pastor should be satisfied that they are in agreement, or we would have heard about it before now.] 😉

  5. The title of the article plainly says the subject, Step 5 in Christ’s state of humiliation, which is burial. The body of the article refers to the 4 previous steps: birth in poverty, life of suffering, crucifixion, and death. These 5 steps are as taught in many explanations of the Catechism, including the one used in my confirmation instruction.

    The descent into hell is not in that list of 5 steps. The article is not talking about the descent into hell.

    There is disagreement about the descent, partly because, as the Formula of Concord says, we don’t know very much about it. I accept the usual Lutheran explanations that it is part of Christ’s state of exaltation, not part of his state of humiliation, and I reject the Reformed notion that it is a step in his humiliation (just as I reject the Reformed notion that incarnation in and of itself was a step in his humiliation).

    Burial as a step of humiliation did more to humiliate Christ than we often think, and that is why I thought it a worthy subject for an article. By launching off to a subject not addressed in the article, Mr. Marquart is distracting from the value of a Christian knowing the humiliation of Christ in his burial.

  6. @T. R. Halvorson #8

    I apologize for misunderstanding you. It was not done intentionally wishing to distract anyone from anything. When I read words such as “…, adrift among the dead, forgotten by his Father, cut off from his Father’s hand, in darkness and in depths, under his Father’s wrath, and alone,” I find there is a limited number of situations to which this can apply outside of the descent into hell. But I guess there was some other place where He was “adrift among the dead.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.