On a Thursday evening in the inviting sanctuary of my church, women of all ages gathered for our weekly Bible study. Our text was the book of 1 Samuel, and I was thrilled to mine the treasures of Christ in the life of David with other women. I expected that part. What I didn’t expect is the treasure of Christ we discovered in the heart of Jonathan.
Jonathan would have made a great king. His faith and godliness shine brightly compared to his father’s. While King Saul cared foremost about himself, Jonathan concerned himself with the Lord. Yet God did not choose Jonathan as king—He chose David.
If envy consumed anyone, it should have been Jonathan. But Jonathan did not begrudge God’s decision. In fact, he fully embraced the idea, declaring as much to David in one of the most remarkable and humble scenes in all of Scripture.
Not My Will but Yours Be Done
After David defeated Goliath, Jonathan made a covenant with David. “And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Sam. 18:4).
The act of taking off his royal robe and armor is significant. In doing so Jonathan—the King’s son—sets aside his glory in surrender to the will of God. Without the distinction of his robe, Jonathan had nothing to set him apart from the rest of society. He also made himself vulnerable by handing David his sword. All this so David could become more, while Jonathan became less.
Jonathan’s actions portray the gospel.
The parallels are many: Jesus also set aside His glory to surrender to God’s will. Laying aside His royal status, Jesus wrapped himself in human flesh (with nothing to set Him apart from the rest of society) and made himself nothing by “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7–8).
Christ made himself vulnerable so that we might be lifted up. In essence, Jesus handed humanity His sword (just as Jonathan handed his to David), only we killed Him with it. Christ became less so we might become more—so we could be children of God and not children of wrath.
Jesus embraced God’s will, fully and joyfully, that we might share in His inheritance and be with Him forever. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
The King of Glory Laid Aside His Robe
It’s incredible to consider Jonathan’s humility, but even more incredible to consider Christ’s. Today is Christmas Eve, and while many are buttoning up last-minute shopping (Hi, Dad.) and scurrying to finalize Christmas Day preparations, I now have a new picture in my mind of that special Christmas Eve over two thousand years ago.
That picture is one in which the Son of God willingly unties His royal robe with the majestic crest of heaven and lays it aside. He then reaches for His crown while all of heaven holds its breath. Is the King of Glory really disrobing, preparing to dim His immeasurable brilliance behind human skin?
Not even the angels dared to imagine such a plan, for fear of defiling the holiness of God. How could the One they continuously glorify, the One for whom all the stars sing, strip Himself of His glory? And yet there stood the Son of God, bending to His own creation, ready to bear our reproach to save us. He clothed the redeemed in righteous royalty, so we, too, might bear the insignia of heaven for all eternity.
Then with one last look at the glorious landscape of heaven, the Son of God, who embodies all things lovely and beautiful, gave himself “no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2).
Christ willingly traded His extraordinary glory for swaddling clothes, swapping the praise of angels for the reproach of man, the joy of heaven for the sorrows of earth—all so He could be “wounded for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). It was not an even trade and it never will be: the disrobing of Christ’s glory ending in naked persecution with a crown of thorns upon His head.
Our Savior Came Anyway
This is what gets me: Jesus came anyway. He knew temptations would rage at Him and suffering would seize Him. He knew He would long for the fellowship He had with the Father before the world existed (John 17:5). And yet, Christ stripped Himself of His majestic glory and came anyway.
He came so the wickedness of man could be paid for, so our iniquities could be replaced by Christ’s righteousness, so restoration could take place with God the Father, and so the Church could become the Church through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
We are not the Church together because of anything we have done or will do in the future. What unifies us is the accomplishment of Christ.
There is no other story like this one. What king would set aside his royal status to cloak himself with the punishment His wicked and vile subjects deserve? None but the King of kings, Christ Jesus our Savior and God, who willingly bestows His royal robe of righteousness to all who seek His salvation.
If we shine, it is because of Him. If there is any glory, it is only His. For we did not cloak ourselves with a royal robe of righteousness, but Jesus, with His eyes fixed on the cross, came down from heaven and handed His to us.