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Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (ESV)
Apotelesmatic Christ
Friday of Pentecost 18
2 October 2015
Everything is about Jesus. He provides the whole of our salvation in His life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. In this sense Christology is soteriology. To know Christ aright is to know salvation in Him. Christology is always "apotelesmatic" as the theologians say, which means that it is always oriented to a specific goal. That goal is the salvation of sinners. The ancient church fathers always thought "apotelesmatically" about Christ; even to the point of making statements that we would take to be far too extreme. In today's text from Gregory Nazianzus, we see him making two of those far too extreme statements, but with the goal of comforting sinners Christologically by them. First, He describes Christ's assumption of our human nature so that he says that human nature becomes God. Second, the result of the human nature becoming God is that man might become God. The first seems to dissolve the difference between the two natures in Christ. The second seems to break the first commandment by calling man God.
Elsewhere in the body of Gregory's work he makes clear that the incarnation meant that the two natures were joined in one person as God-Man but in such a way that each nature retains its own qualities. The God incarnate becomes man completely and wholly and the human nature which He assumed was granted divine power through the real communication of attributes within the unity of person. On this basis, therefore, those who are His children and imitators share to that extent in the deification. The divinity and the humanity are two natures. But there are not two Sons or two Gods. God is made man and man made God.
The benefits of the incarnation are communicated to the human nature, for the human nature is that by which we gain the benefit of the incarnation and the union of the divine and human natures in one God-Man. The attributes of perfect and eternal fellowship with God in our heavenly home become our possession through the incarnation. For He who departed His throne came that we might be installed there in Him. We might complain at Gregory for stating the case far too radically when he speaks of man becoming God, but he wants to be clear about the spectacular benefits that accrue to us through the incarnation of Christ. He is not denying the full humanity of the God incarnate, man divine. Gregory can still speak of Christ's weakness, swaddled by His mother. Yet He throws off the swaddling of grave clothes at the resurrection in a full effulgence of divinity; putting to death death.


Gregory of Nazianzus

"In the beginning Christ was uncaused; for what is the cause of God? But afterwards for a cause He was born. He came that you might be saved, you who insult Him and despise His divinity, because He took upon Him your more solid nature, having converse with flesh by means of mind. While His inferior nature, the humanity, became God, because it was united to God, and became one person because the higher nature prevailed in order that I too might be made God so far as He is made Man. He was born, but He had been begotten. He was born of a woman, but she was a Virgin. The first is human, the second divine. In His human nature He had no father. In His divine nature He had no mother. Both these (being without mother according to His divinity and being without father according to His humanity) belong to godhead.
"He dwelt in the womb-but He was recognized by the John the Baptist, while still in the womb, leaping before the Word, for whose sake He came into being. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes (Lk 2:7), but He took off the swathing bands of the grave by His rising again. He was laid in a manger, but He was glorified by Angels, and proclaimed by a star, and worshipped by the Magi. Why are you offended by that which is presented to your sight, because you will not look at that which is presented to your mind? He was driven into exile into Egypt, but He drove away the Egyptian idols. He had no form nor beauty in the eyes of the Jews (Is 53:2), but to David He is fairer than the children of men (Ps 45:2). On the mountain He was bright as the lightning, and became more luminous than the sun (Mt 17:2), initiating us into the mystery of the future."

Gregory Nazianzus, Third Theological Oration, 19
Almighty and ever-living God, you sent Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to bear our flesh and return it to us whole and unimpaired. Grant us to live in full confidence of your salvation and in the capacity to share this life-giving message to the world; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Rhett Wilkins, who is undergoing surgery, that the Lord might grant healing and strength according to His good and gracious will
For all shut ins, especially Lois Vaughn, Marcia Johnson, Robert Frerking, Rita Baker, Anita Markwardt, Pearl White, and Reuben Braun, that they would be blessed in their Lord Christ
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that he would be strengthened in all the labor that Lord lays upon him
For all those who might suffer the impact of hurricane Joaquin, that the Lord of the universe would bring rescue and safety
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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