When Pannenberg turns to Christology, he first addresses the means by which he can discuss the person of Jesus Christ. Unique to Pannenberg and due to the incorporation of his Christology into the presentation of the Trinity itself, the description of the person of Jesus cannot be separated from a discussion of his work. The eternal Son of the immanent Trinity becomes the content and work of salvation through his incarnation.
To get to an affirmation of the incarnation Pannenberg sought to incorporate the foundational assessment of Jesus from below and the connection historically of the person of Jesus to the Son within the Trinity. Pannenberg takes as his task to develop a theory of the Christological tradition that brings to light the logic and necessity of affirming the deity of Jesus. By examining the tradition Pannenberg is able to move from below to above and at the end of the movement thinking Christologically from above makes sense.
In his discussion of the humanity of Jesus Pannenberg emphasizes its distinctiveness in relationship to Adam as the New Man and also Jesus’ relationship to the destiny of humanity in the fellowship of God. It is then the kenosis of the eternal Son that makes the connection to the historical Jesus. It was the Easter event that definitively decided the personal identity of Jesus as the Son of God, but in light of the event he was recognized to be the Son from the very beginning of his earthly course, and even from eternity. The incarnation of the Son through his self-emptying accompanied by his self-distinction brings the full expression of humanity and as such it appears that the incarnation was not accidental. In fact, Pannenberg demonstrates that it happened the only way it could have happened, through the decision of the eternal Son.
In the life of Jesus, Pannenberg argues, that it was his obedience to Father that enabled the incarnation amidst the contingency of history. Jesus, unlike the rest of humanity was tempted but without sin and, therefore, lived in the acceptance of his finitude in a self-differentiated relationship to the Father. This life stance was one of constant affirmation and trust in the Lordship of God.