Why Did Jesus Hide His Glory?
Glorify the Father
Jesus hid his glory when he became a man in order to show his Father’s glory. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). When Old Testament believers witnessed an appearance of Christ, they were often fearful for their lives. They knew that sinful man could not look upon God and live. The glory of God was also the judgment of God; the natural person who saw it died. When Moses spent forty days alone with God on Mount Sinai, it was necessary to cover his face when he came down because it reflected the glory of God. The people could not look upon God and live.
When John was on the Isle of Patmos, he too had a vision of Christ. When John saw Jesus in the full glory that was his from the beginning, John wrote, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead” (Rev. 1:17). When Paul had a similar vision of Christ, he was blinded with light from heaven (Acts 9:3-9). Later he wrote of being “caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:4). When Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple, he cried out, “Woe is me…” (Isa. 6:1-8).
If Jesus had not veiled his preincarnate glory he could not have accomplished what he came to earth to do. It was necessary for Christ to hide his glory temporarily as he sought to save the souls of men. After the work of atonement was done, he could pray, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5).
Limitations of Humanity
As a result of the incarnation, Jesus became the God-man. He was at all times both God and man as he lived on earth. When Jesus became flesh, he voluntarily subjected himself to its limitations Be. fore his birth, heaven was his throne. Now in the flesh, Jesus was limited to the distance that a man could walk on the paths of Galilee. The Son of God who created water voluntarily lived in a body that got thirsty.
Jesus was born into this world as other humans (Luke 2:120), even though his conception was supernatural. As a child he developed as every human must develop. Jesus grew in mental, physical, spiritual, and social areas of life (Luke 2:52). He had the essential elements of human nature. He was body (Heb. 10:5), soul (John 12:27), and spirit (Mark 2:8). Jesus became hungry when he did not eat (Matt. 4:2). He became tired and asked the woman at the well for water to drink (John 4:6). Throughout his life on earth, Jesus was just as human as any one of us, subject to the same emotional experiences of sorrow, pain, and hurt which any man experiences.
The willingness of Jesus to limit himself to becoming a man gives us confidence that he understands the affairs of our lives. “For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Because he has experientially known the frustrations of humanity, we have a “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) upon whom we can depend. While those who deny his deity believe they are honoring Jesus Christ in calling him a great man, the Bible says he emptied himself voluntarily by accepting the limitations of humanity. Yet at all times he remained God.
He surrendered the independent use of some attributes. Self-emptying took place also by the voluntary choice not to use certain of his attributes.
Power of the Holy Spirit
Perhaps the best expression of omnipotence is that of the miracles of God. Even though Jesus was known as a miracle worker, he performed those miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:28). He voluntarily laid aside his power to do them and relied on the Holy Spirit or the Father. On various occasions he made it clearly known he was doing the work of his Father.
“Then answered Jesus, and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).
During his earthly life and ministry, Jesus was omniscient, but did not know the time of the second coming. He was omnipresent, but when he became flesh, he limited himself to being in one place at one time. He was omnipotent, yet he prayed to God to perform the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus had not lost these attributes of God, but rather, in the process of emptying himself, he chose not to use his relative attributes.