Owen identifies a “twofold promise of God”(Owen 54) between these two steps (of the eternal decree that Christ should assume his offices of king and priest, and the actual inauguration of these offices): On the one hand, God had promise to give a Savior as a mediator to his people(Gen. 3:16, 49:10)(Owen 54). The form which the fulfillment of this promise would take was predicted and foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament(1 Pet. 1:10-12)(Owen 54). The second entails the application of the saving benefits wrought by Christ in order that, in accord with the Abrahamic promise, “in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed”(Gen. 12:3, 15:6) by justification by faith(Owen 54).
All of this entails the first act of the Father sending the Son. The second act of the Father’s commissioning of the Son entails providing Christ with what he needed to undertake the work of his office. These blessings were twofold: First, Christ had the glory of the Father (Jhn. 1:14) and, like the Father, had the nature of Deity(Phil. 2:6, Zech. 13:7, Isa. 6:3, 4, 5, Jhn. 12:41). Christ emptied himself of the prerogatives of this Deity, taking the form of the servant (Phil. 2:7, 8, Isa. 53:2)(Owen 55). Owen notes, however, that this was not communicated to him by God the Father, but essentially belonged to him. It is the second gift of the Father which was communicated to Christ, namely his manhood(Owen 55). Though Christ was fully God, he was also fully man, having been endowed by the Father with this nature(1 Tim. 2:5, Matt. 1:23, Isa. 9:6)(Owen 55). He possesses the fullness of Deity (Col. 1:18, 19), and in him dwell “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”(Col. 2:3)(Owen 56). God anointed the Son (Ps. 45:7) to proclaim freedom to the captives (Isa. 61:1). The Spirit of the Lord rested upon him (Isa. 11:2), and everyone joined to him shares in the Spirit. Christ grew in his human person (Lk. 2:52), was given authority on earth(Matt. 28:18) to give eternal life to those given to him by the Father(Jhn. 17:2)(Owen 56).
Owen identifies a third part to the sending of the Son by the Father. God entered into a covenant with the Son, stipulating in this covenant what was to be carried out, and what was to result from the accomplishment of the stipulations(Owen 56). Owen identifies two parts to this act(56). First the Father promises to help Christ in his work. Christ committed himself to the just judgment of the Father(1 Pet. 2:23), in order to withstand the trials of life in a sinful world(Owen 56). Second, the Father promised success(Owen 58). God appointed Christ to provide actual salvation for Jews and Gentiles(Owen 58)(Isa. 49, cf. Isa. 49:6-12). God promised the Son that the Father would give him people from all the nations. This was the mission of the Son: To gather for himself a specific people from all the ends of the earth. Owen notes that Isa. 53:10-12 also notes that the Son would “justify many.” This was a specific, definite number of people. Owen notes that, in light of God’s covenanted promise to the Son that the Son would have for himself a people, it makes no sense to suppose, as many do, that it is possible for this to utterly fail. How can God’s promises, much less his promises to Christ, not come to fruition? Yet this would be a real possibility if Christ died for everyone in general, yet no one in particular, and with the application of the benefits wrought being conditional upon faith and repentance. Rather, Christ was appointed to bring many sons to glory(Heb. 2:10)(Owen 59). God sent him into the world in order that the Church might live through him(1 Jhn. 4:9)(Owen 59). Jesus lived a perfect life, which the Father gave him to do(Jhn. 17:4), upon which Christ expects his chosen ones to be given him(Jhn. 17:5). Christ had sanctified himself as a perfect, unspotted, unblemished sacrifice, and prays for the sanctification of his sheep(Jhn. 17:7-9)(Owen 59). He prays for their mutual love and communion with God(Jhn. 17:20, 21) and their glorification (Jhn. 17:24). It should be noted that Christ emphatically states that he is praying only for those whom God has given him, and not for the “world”(Jhn. 17:9).
Following this active obedience of living a perfect life, comes his passive obedience of dying on the cross in order to placate the just wrath of God against his sheep(Zech. 13:7, Matt. 26:31, Isa. 53:, 4, 6, 10)(Owen 57), in order that the righteousness of God might be counted to us (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ was sorrowful and terrified with the forebodings of taking God’s wrath for his church (Matt. 26:37, 38, Mk. 14:33, Heb. 5:7), to the point where he sweat drops of blood(Lk. 22:43, 44). So great was his agony, upon bearing the covenant breaking curses of the church (Gal. 3:13) that, in his dereliction, he cried out to God as though he had been forsaken utterly(Ps. 22:1) when he bore our iniquity(Isa. 53:6).
Owen, John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007. Print. 54-59.