Poor Cake Indeed 
Tuesday of Pentecost 15
4 September 2018
"You can't have your cake and eat it too." Have you ever wondered what precisely that phrase means? Whatever it means, it means at least that you can't have things both ways, denying with one side of your mouth what you accept with the other. Often those who desire to deny the Bible's claims to the full divinity of Jesus try to have their cake and eat it to, by emphasizing the texts that disclose the full humanity of Jesus born of Mary and ignoring or reinterpreting those that emphasize his full divinity. Fortunately, for orthodox Christians, the interpretive method that is good for one is also good for the other.
 
Scripture attributes Jesus' earthly ancestry to the Old Testament patriarchs. The genealogies of the Gospels of Matthew (1:1-17) and of Luke (3:23-38) emphasize the sources of the human nature of Christ. If He was to be the new Israel, He would have to be of Israel according to the flesh. That simple fact left the Apostle Paul grieving for his own people: "Jesus Christ is one of us. He is of our flesh. Why then did my people, His people, reject Him? Why did He come to His own and His own knew Him not?" How this question must have tormented the apostle to Gentiles! For he cries out that he would prefer to be cut off from Christ, in exchange for the conversion of his kinsmen, the Jews. He so deeply desired that Christ Jesus be recognized as God's Son by Israel according to the flesh, that he would have preferred to have become a castaway from God's grace in exchange for their salvation. The Savior's passionate love for His people according to the flesh passed into the desire of the Apostle.
 
Paul said that the Messiah was from Israel's race, "according to the flesh." About this none could quibble, nor would they try. This One was a Jew. But in the same breath the Jewish man born of Mary was also denominated "Christ who is God over all, blessed forever." You can't have it both ways. Either Christ Jesus is both a Jewish man born of Mary and God of God, or He is neither. Everyone concedes that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi of the first century. Irrationally, many try to deny that that Jewish rabbi was also true God. But you can't have it both ways. Paul calls Him both God and Man. He is both. Those who deny His divinity are attempting to have their cake and eat it too. And it is very poor cake indeed, because it savors of death, not life.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Cassian
"When Paul, the divine teacher of the Churches, was writing to the Romans and reproving or rather lamenting the unbelief of the Jews, that is, of his own brothers, he made use of these words: 'For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever' (Rm 9:3-5). Oh, the love of that most faithful Apostle, and most kindly kinsman, who in his infinite love wished to die-as a kinsman for his relations, and as a master for his disciples! And what was the reason he wished to die? Only one. That they might live. But in what did their life consist? Simply in this, as he himself says, that they might recognize a divine Christ born according to the flesh, of their own flesh. Therefore the Apostle grieved the more, because those who ought to have loved Him the more as One sprung from their own stock, failed to understand that He was born of Israel. 'Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.'
 
"Clearly he lays down that from them according to the flesh, was born that Christ who is over all, God blessed forever. You certainly cannot deny that Christ was born from the Jews according to the flesh. But the same person, who was born from them, is God. How can you get around this? How can you shuffle out of it? The Apostle says that Christ who was born of Israel according to the flesh, is God. Teach us, if you can, at what time He did not exist. 'According to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all.' You see that because the Apostle has united and joined together these, 'God' cannot possibly be separated from 'Christ.' For just as the Apostle declares that Christ is from the Jews, so he asserts that God is in Christ. You must either deny both of these statements, or you must accept both. Christ is said to be born of them according to the flesh, but the same person is declared by the Apostle to be 'God in Christ.' This is why he also says elsewhere: 'In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.' (2Co 5:19). It is absolutely impossible to separate one from the other. Either deny that Christ sprang from the Jews, or admit that there was born of the virgin God in Christ, 'who is God over all, blessed forever.'" 

John Cassian, Seven Books on the Incarnation, 3.1
Romans 9:1-8

I am speaking the truth in Christ- I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit- that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You were born of Israel's race to be God blessed forever. Help us to believe all that Your Word says of You, that Your fullness might be ours. Rescue those from unbelief who accept only Your human ancestry and deny Your divinity. Help us to help those lost ones, that with us they might give You honor, who are God blessed forever. Amen.
 
For Becky Junker, that she might continue to be strengthened in her body
 
For those who are suffering financial difficulties, that they might find where their true treasure is
 
For the saints, that they would be strengthened in their holy faith
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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