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Galatians

2:15-21


 

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

 

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (ESV)

 

Cur Deus Homo? 

Frederick the Wise, Christian Ruler

5 May 2015

Why has God become man? Christ our Lord assumed our flesh of the Virgin Mary, that by taking it, He might return it to us as holy and righteous. This is why every syllable of the holy Gospels is not just about Christ our Lord, but also about us. The Gospels portray to us the cost of our salvation, and the blessing of our redemption. What is written is written "that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we might have life in his name" (Jn 20:31). What He does, He does for our sakes, and not for His own. Within God there was no compelling reason to take on "the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rm 8:3). No, God was compelled to take our flesh by our need alone. Here is the only entirely selfless act ever carried out among humans and by a human. Through His substitution He has made us
the object of every divine action of redemption. The whole creed brackets the phrase, "who for us men, and for our salvation..." (Nicene Creed). What the creed says God did, he did for us and for our salvation.

 

In the flesh our Lord Jesus Christ defeats the weakness of the flesh and the sin that is so enervating. He took what we had weakened and turned it to the purpose of defeating that which weakened it. He stood up for the spiritual paupers, by being identified with them, taking the garment of their flesh. He did not merely defend them, but defeated their most powerful enemy: sin. He freed them from sin, their liability to death, and from slavery to the devil. What they and their flesh could not do, He and His flesh did. Though He was fully identified with His flesh of Mary; it still remained their flesh. He so fully united Himself with them, that they shared human nature with God's Son.

 

In Les Misérables, Victor Hugo's heroic character, Jean Valjean, pleads for the release of Fantine, who, having fallen into a degraded life of prostitution, is arrested by Valjean's nemesis, Inspector Javert. Jean is risking everything by coming to the rescue of this woman. He is liable to immediate execution if the inspector is able to discern who he is. This very heroism makes it more likely that Inspector Javert will recognize Jean Valjean, yet still he risks it. Jean does much for Fantine, even after her passing, although such acts raise suspicions about his identity and put him at risk for arrest and summary execution. He redeems her daughter out of a life of virtual slavery, so that she can become his own daughter. So likewise, our Christ puts himself at risk by taking our flesh that He might redeem us from the disease of sin, which has infected it. He redeems us from slavery. He is not embarrassed by our sickness, perversity, and liability to death, but frees us from all of these by becoming subject to their penalties. There is no risk which is too great for Him. He is not infected by the flesh, but cleanses flesh of its infection.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'For God has what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh' (Rm 8:3). He took no other flesh, but this very one which was beset with troubles. It is as if the son of a king were to see in the street a filthy homeless woman being beaten, and would say he was her son and so free her from those who treated her so badly. This Christ really did, when He confessed that He was the Son of Man, and stood by the flesh, and condemned sin. He struck the flesh with the blow of His death, but in this very act it was not the flesh which was condemned and perished, but the sin which had been struck. This is the greatest possible wonder. For if it were not in the flesh that the victory took place, it would not be so astonishing, since this the law also did. But the wonder is, that it was with the flesh that His trophy was raised, and that what had been overthrown numberless times by sin, did get a glorious victory over it.

 

"What strange things took place! First, sin did not conquer the flesh. Second, that sin was conquered, and conquered by flesh too. For it is not the same thing not to be conquered, and to conquer that which was continually overthrowing us. Third, flesh not only conquered it, but even chastised it. For by not sinning Christ's flesh kept from being conquered, but by dying also, He overcame and condemned it, having made the flesh, that before was so readily made a mock of by it, a plain object of fear to it. In this way then, He both unnerved its power and abolished the death introduced by it. For so long as it took hold of sinners, it with justice kept pressing to its end. But after finding a sinless body, when it had given it up to death, sin was condemned as having acted unjustly....

 

"When Paul says that it was 'in the likeness' of flesh that he sent the Son, do not therefore suppose that His flesh was of a different kind. Because he called it 'sinful,' this was why he put the word 'likeness.' For Christ did not have sinful flesh, but like indeed to our sinful flesh, yet sinless, but by nature the same with us. From this it is plain that by nature the flesh was not evil. For it was not by taking a different one instead of the former, nor by changing this same one in substance, that Christ caused it to regain the victory. He let it abide in its own nature, and yet made it bind on the crown of victory over sin, and then after the victory raised it, and made it immortal. Doesn't it matter if it was your flesh to which these things happened? It concerns you very much." 
 
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 13
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, You have shown passionate concern for us, by taking our flesh and cleansing it of death and sin. Send Your Spirit that we might live in the power of Your incarnation for us. Amen.

 

For the blind ministry group of Memorial Lutheran Church, that they would continue to receive the divine truth from those who serve the group

 

For faculty and staff of the seminaries of the LCMS, that they would be steadfast in word and confession

 

For Ian Pacey, Associate Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, that he would be kept in body and soul by His Lord

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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