Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (ESV)
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Tuesday of Pentecost 19
6 October 2015
The Child born of Mary is subject to all manner of human weakness. He takes on mortality and become subject to death. He is under subjection to His Father as a creature born of the Virgin. He is subject to His earthly parents as a Child (Lk 2:51
). He subjects Himself to His Father's will in all things. False teachers, both ancient and modern Arians, want to diminish His true divinity by pointing out the various forms of subjection undergone by the Christ. If He is subject to the authority of anyone or anything else, it is thought by the false teachers that He cannot be fully divine, but something less.
We must ask why He becomes subject. He willingly subjects Himself to His Father who is an equal, and also to earthly authorities, who are His inferiors by reason of His divinity, such as Joseph and Mary, and to those things which plague mortals, such as sin and death. All these forms of submission are undertaken by God's Son freely and gladly.
Of the first, subjection to His Father, as a dutiful Son He conformed Himself to His Father's will. He did not do so because He was compelled by His Father, as a human son might be required by his father to be obedient and has no choice in it. He is submissive to His Father, though He is co-equal and co-eternal with Him for our sakes. He was submissive to the eternal plan of salvation worked out to include suffering and death for the sake of humanity. He was submissive to give us a sign of our calling as God's people to be submissive to others who may well be our inferiors in piety, gifts, and calling. For example, in many marriages the wife is superior to her husband in created gifts, and yet she gladly subjects herself to the God-given authority of her husband and she becomes a true "imitator of God" (Eph 5:22-33
). She becomes subject to his authority for the sake of the greater good of community, church, and family. Christ is likewise submissive to His Father, even though they are equal, for our sakes. How deep is the mystery of such submission!
Of the second, Christ becomes subject to the authority of His earthly parents, that He might redeem us from our disobedience to the earthly authorities that our Father has placed over us and to give us a true picture of the importance of subjection to those whom God has placed over us. Luther points out in the large Catechism that we do not obey our parents because they are always right (they're not!), but purely because they are God's representatives to guide us and deflect us from harmful ways of life. Christ is subject to His inferiors for our sakes to redeem us from our horrible rebellions against authority and to teach us to be subject to those whom our Father has placed over us, even though we are (or think we are) superior to those authorities. Why shouldn't we be subject to our parents? Jesus certainly was.
Of the third; His subjection to the powers that plague fallen humanity, He willingly takes on these in our place. He becomes the new Adam, who while suffering from human weakness and living in the wilderness of this sin-shattered world, defeats our common enemy for us by rejecting the blandishments of the tempter. How different this is in comparison to Adam and Eve, who while living in the blessed paradise of the garden, permit themselves to be overtaken by their enemy and doubt God's Word to them. He swallows down subjection to death, that by His death He might free those who are subject to the fear of death (Heb 2:15
). These subjections are all willing and do not diminish His divinity, but raise His humanity and ours. His glory is to stoop to the needs of us wretched humans, that He might bring us out of death to life, from darkness unto light. He is subject to these things that He might be the church's true Head, suffering all this for us. The Arians wanted to treat these things as a diminishment of His divinity, rather than as a glorification of His humanity and as a blessing to us. He is subject for us.
Gregory of Nazianzus
"Consider the subjection by which you [Arians] subject the Son to the Father. You say, 'What, is He not now subject, or if he is God must He be subject to God' (1Co 15:28
)? You are constructing your argument as if it concerned some robber, or some hostile deity. But look at it in this way: that for my sake He was called a curse (Gal 3:13
), who destroyed my curse and sin (2Co 5:21
), who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29
) and became a new Adam (1Co 15:45
) to take the place of the old, so that He makes my disobedience His own as Head of the whole body. As long as I am disobedient and rebellious, both by denial of God and by my wicked desires, so long Christ also is called disobedient on my account. But when all things shall be subjected to Him (1Co 15:28
) on the one hand by acknowledgment of Him, and on the other by a reformation, then He Himself also will have fulfilled His submission, bringing me whom He has saved to God.
For this, according to my view, is the subjection of Christ; namely, the fulfilling of the Father's will. But as the Son subjects all to the Father, so does the Father to the Son; the One by His Work, the Other by His good pleasure, as we have already said. Thus He who subjects presents to God that which he has subjected, making our condition His own. Of the same kind, it appears to me, is the expression, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me' (Ps 22:1
)? It was not He who was forsaken either by the Father, or by His own Godhead, as some have thought, as if His divinity were afraid of the Passion, and therefore His divinity withdrew from Him in His Sufferings (for who compelled Him either to be born on earth at all, or to be lifted up on the Cross?). But as I said, He was in His own Person representing us. For we were the forsaken and despised before, but now by the sufferings of Him who could not suffer, we were taken up and saved. Similarly, He makes His own our folly and our transgressions; and says what follows in the Psalm, for it is evident that Psalm 22
refers to Christ.
Gregory Nazianzus, Fourth Theological Oration, 5
O Christ, in Your own Person You represented us. We were the forsaken and despised, but now by the sufferings of You who could not suffer, we were taken up and saved. You make Your own our folly and our transgressions; that we might be freed from them, foolish and wicked though we are. Amen.
For Christian clergy, that they would find joy in proclaiming the fruits of Christ's work to their congregations
For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord would give him strength and healing
For those whose work is dangerous or challenging, such as police, public safety workers, doctors and nurses, that we would appreciate their sacrifices and they would find true joy in them
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015