Beautiful Truth
Wednesday of Pentecost 12
14 August 2018
There is a moral beauty to the truth. For example, the psalmist commends to the worshiper the beauty of the Lord: "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple" (Ps 27:4). True worship is to worship the beauty of the Lord; it is a beautiful thing. Even the Branch of the Lord, who is the Messiah, is considered beautiful. "In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious" (Is 4:2). God himself, then, is beautiful, so that what proceeds from his mouth is likewise beautiful because it is the truth. Notice that His truth is beautiful. Not everything that humans call beautiful would partake of the truth. By contrast, what God says is by definition beautiful. Therefore, to have beautiful teaching for the beautiful community of believers is to have the truth, God's truth, always and only proclaimed. To teach contrary to God's word profanes the name of God among us, is truly ugly and partakes of moral decay. God remains the standard of truth and therefore alone is able to define what is beautiful. The truth of God's Word communicates to us the beauty of holiness, because the truth delivers to us Christ himself and all that He does for us poor sinners.

Cyril of Alexandria thought the teaching of Nestorius was morally ugly. Nestorius was horrified that the church would call the Virgin Mary the mother of God. I believe that Nestorius thought this phrase implied that Mary was the maker of God in her womb. First, the title, the mother of God, given to Mary was the church's way of emphasizing that the one who was born of Mary was truly God of God as the Creed called him. The title mother of God had more to do with who Christ was than who Mary was. It was not about her person, but about the person of her Son, the Son of God. Second, the church did not want to leave believers in any doubt as to who it was that emerged from the womb of Mary. He was God of God. She was His mother. Therefore, she was the mother of God; not as the originator of His divine nature, for it could not have a beginning in time. But she was the one who bore God's Son and was, therefore, His mother. Those unwilling to call Mary the mother of God do not know who her Son is.

The ugly doctrines of Nestorius were also doctrinal inventions. The position of Nestorius, denying that Mary was the mother of God, was new in the church. The fathers of the church had long denominated Mary mother of God. Those fathers wanted to make clear that there was one indivisible person of the Son of God, who suffered in the flesh and was therefore the Savoir of sinners. His body underwent crucifixion for us men that we might confess Christ as the Savior. These are not two sons, but one Son, not two Christs, but one Christ. We have one Savior and one salvation. And that is the beautiful truth.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Cyril of Alexandria
"But some (I don't know how!) abuse the most sacred beauty of the teachings of the church and wrinkle the holy and pure Virgin, bringing her down to the moral decay of their own ideas. They are armed against us with a multitude of new-fangled doctrinal inventions. For they fault, as something bastardized and distasteful, yes, as going beyond all proper language, the use of the term mother of God that the holy fathers before us have constructed for the holy Virgin.

"By doing this, they divide into two different sons the one Lord Jesus Christ and take away from God the Word the sufferings of the flesh. Although not even we have said that He suffered in his own nature as God, but we attribute rather to Him along with the flesh the sufferings also that befell the flesh, so that He too may be confessed as Savior. For as it is written, 'With his wounds we are healed,' and 'H
e was pierced for our transgressions' (Is 53:5)...And we have been saved by His undergoing death for us in His own body (1Pt 2:24)." 

Cyril of Alexandria, Five Tomes against Nestorius, 1
Isaiah 53:4-12

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (ESV)
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, we confess You as our only Savior. The holy prophets have said that You have healed us with Your wounds and You were pierced for our transgressions. We rejoice that we have been saved by Your undergoing death for us in Your own body, that we might be freed from the power of death over our bodies. Help us to live in the joy of this confession all the days of our lives; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For Bob Kuhlmann who is undergoing hip replacement, that he would recover fully from this surgery and regain full motion

For the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, which is on retreat, that its members would be built up in the holy faith and its mutual confession

For Michael Denosky, that the Lord would grant him strength and healing
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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