Something we don’t often talk about, at least in the churches I’ve attended, is Jesus Christ’s weakness. We even re-write the lyrics for Amy Grant’s song “El Shaddai” when singing it for special music to read “power of your Son” instead of “frailty of your Son” (which makes no sense in the context of the second verse). With that background, pairing Christ’s name with the word “weakness” might seem odd (at the very least), but hear me out for a moment. When Jesus Christ was on this earth as a human being, He was “made like His brethren” — like us — “in all things.” He had to experience what we do, including our weaknesses, to be “a merciful and faithful high priest” and “to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).
No Power In Self
When on the earth, Jesus said, “I can of Myself do nothing” (John 5:30). He had to rely on His Father for strength, just as we have to rely on Jesus Christ for our strength.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
The Word who became Jesus gave up His power as God to be like us in every way (John 1:1-2, 14). He needed to be weak in the same ways we are so that He could be “in all points tempted as we are” for two reasons (Heb. 4:15). One: so that He could sympathize with and “aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Two: so He could show that a sinless life is possible with God’s help by living His own life “without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)
Jesus Christ’s life and His relationship with God serves as a model for us. As He was dependent on the Father for His strength, so are we dependent on Him. As He mimicked His Father’s actions, so are we to imitate Christ. As He emptied Himself to serve others and submitted to His Father’s will, so should we follow in His steps.
Weakness Made Strong
As a further example to us, Christ’s human weakness was turned into divine strength (2 Cor. 13:4). Though He was fully human and had human weaknesses while on this earth, He did not stay that way. And, because of the power He has now, we do not have to stay that way either.After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). One of the things He uses this incredible power for is to strengthen our weaknesses.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:)
Weakness is a prerequisite for receiving strength from God. In Philippians 2:5-8, Christ is described as making “Himself of no reputation,” acting as a servant, being made “in the likeness of men,” and humbling Himself. The next verse begins with the word “therefore,” to show us the result of this voluntary weakness.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)
The verses after this begin with a “therefore” as well, to show the result of Christ’s exaltation and the process of His mind being formed in us (going back to verse 5).
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13)
Because of Christ’s weakness being made strong, we have the opportunity to humble ourselves before God and “work out our own salvation” with Him working in us to “make you complete … through Jesus Christ,” who is the Author of our salvation (Heb. 13:21).
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9)
Jesus Christ’s life on this earth serves as an example to show us exactly how to live (John 13:15; 1 John 2:6). To do this, He voluntarily made Himself as weak as the people He created and, with His Father, modeled the way we can receive strength to live a godly life.