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Colossians

1:11-20 


 

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

(ESV)

 

 

 

One Christ

Tuesday of Epiphany 3

28 January 2014

The personal union of the two natures in Christ means that what is attributable to each of the natures is attributable to the whole person. If this would not be so, what kind of person would Jesus Christ be? Or might He be several persons? Modern theologians speak this way, talking glibly about the "human Christ," the "divine Christ," or the "cosmic Christ," and so on. Finally, then what do we have? At best, Christ becomes a person to whom our psychiatrists would attribute a multiple personality disorder. He is a kind of schizophrenic, or we are treating Him as one. Perhaps He Himself needs psychiatric therapy, rather than claiming that He has come to heal the broken and diseased world. This division of the natures of the Son into separate personalities denies His full divinity and reduces Him to a psychotic wreck of a person (or persons). This then reduces the value of His truth claims and His claim to divinity to the arrant ramblings of a person needing psychiatric care and a Prozac prescription ("Chill, Jesus!"). How easily we can get rid of the inconvenient truths of the preaching of the eternal Son by attributing to Him multiple personalities.

 

This is not the teaching of the Bible. The Bible attributes to the divine nature what is ascribed to man, and what belongs to the human nature is ascribed to God. How can it be said that God died or shed His blood on the cross? God Himself has said it on the lips of His inspired writers. What are human attributes, that He suffers, bleeds, and dies; all these are ascribed to the one person, who is God. What are divine attributes, that He knows all things, is present everywhere; all these are ascribed to the one person, who is Man.

 

How the Bible can attribute human characteristics to Him who is God and divine characteristics to Him who is man, without doing violence to either, we cannot say. We only must say that God knows what He is doing and can do just as He says without being subject to our critical scrutiny. It must be this way, because only God's plan for our salvation could ever have freed us from sin and the fear of death. Only the God who dies and the human who is exalted assures us that we shall not die, but live, exalted to the presence of God in the coming kingdom. The God-Man who dies and lives will also meet us on the judgment day before the judgment seat to pronounce His work complete for us and in us. The same Lord Christ who has redeemed us by suffering and death will be the one who comes to rescue us from this deformed age full of suffering and death. He who is the fullness of the Godhead bodily gives us the fullness of salvation. Only He can. Only He does. One Christ.

 

John Cassian

 

"How can we say of the Word, that it pleased God that all fullness should dwell in Him who was the first-born from the dead, when He was Himself the only-begotten Son of God and the Word of God, before the origin of all things, and had within Him the invisible Father, and so first had within Him all fullness, that He might Himself be the fullness of all things? And what next? 'Through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross' (Col 1:20). Certainly Paul has made it as clear as possible of whom he was speaking, when he called Him the first-born from the dead. Are all things reconciled and brought into peace through the blood of the Word or Spirit? Most certainly not. For no sort of passion can happen to a nature that is incapable of suffering, nor can the blood of any but a man be shed, nor any but a man die. Yet the same person who is spoken of in the following verses as dead, was above called the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15).

 

"How then can this be? Because the apostle took every possible precaution that it might not be thought that there was any division in Christ, or that the Son of God being joined to a son of man, might come by wild interpretations to be made into two persons. Thus He who is in Himself one, by wrongful and wicked notions of ours, might be made into a double person in one nature. And so most excellently and admirably does the apostle's preaching pass from the only begotten Son of God to the Son of Man united to the Son of God, that the exposition of the doctrine might follow the actual course of the things that happened. And so he continues with an unbroken connection, and makes as it were a sort of bridge, that without any gap or separation you might find at the end of time Him whom we read of as in the beginning of the world and that you might not by admitting some division and erroneous separation imagine that the Son of God was one person in the flesh and another in the Spirit. When the teaching of the apostle had so linked together God and man through the mystery of His birth in the body, so as to show that it was the same person reconciling to Himself all things on the cross, who had been proclaimed the image of the invisible God before the foundation of the world."

 

John Cassian, Seven Books on the Incarnation, 5.7
 

Prayer

O adorable Christ, You have revealed yourself to us as the God Man who bears the sin of the whole world. For us You have died, putting the full weight of your divine nature against the burden of our sin that it might be removed from our backs. Help us to live with peace and joy now that You have taken the awful load from us. Grant that we live free. Amen.

 

For Madagascar, that children might go to school and have their daily bread and the needs of this body and life supplied

 

For all homeless persons, that they might be properly cared for and that they would receive the care that they need with thanksgiving

 

For the family of Michael Shumway, that the Lord would strengthen them in their confession of the power of the resurrection

Art: MEMLING, Hans  Adoration of the Magi (c. 1470)

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