The Bible teaches us about the two natures in Christ. Our Savior is not two Christs, but One – the God-Man – not half-God and half-Man – but totally God and totally, sinless Man in One Person. In the womb of the virgin Mary, God the Son took to Himself a perfect human nature. So we speak of the two natures in Christ.
The Bible also teaches us about the two states of Christ. This may sound kind of bookish, but the two states of Christ have everything to do with our Savior’s humble birth and lowly way of life, His suffering and death, and then His triumph over hell and the grave, His resurrection and ascension. In catechism class we call these two states the humiliation and the exaltation.
In order to save us, Jesus Christ, during His ministry here on earth, set aside the full and continuous use of the divine powers which He possessed even according to His human nature. He enters the world in a stable instead of a palace. He has no place to lay His head. He is hungry in the wilderness. He allows puny little men to bind Him, beat Him and kill Him. This is what we call the state of humiliation.
Yes, from time to time, He drew back the curtain and gave people a glimpse of His glory as true God. He walked on the water, stilled the storm, changed water into wine, raised the dead and was transfigured on the mountain in radiant glory. But for the most part, He concealed His power and glory.
Paul talks about Jesus this way: “Though He was by nature God, He did not consider equality with God as a prize to be displayed, but He emptied himself by taking the nature of a servant. When He was born in human likeness, and his appearance was like that of any other man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 EHV).
So when the enemies of Jesus mocked Him, saying, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross,” Jesus surely could have done so. But He chose not to. Not the nails, but His love for you and me fastened Him there.
But once the price for sin was paid in full, once Christ had lived the perfect life in our place and died in our stead, then He took up the full and continuous use of His divine power to rule over all things and promises to come again in great glory. This is what we call the state of exaltation.
Paul put it this way: “Therefore God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 EHV).