Crossword Puzzle or the Word of the Cross
Thursday of Epiphany 4
7 February 2019
Critics of the Christian religion sometimes attempt to cast doubt on the divinity of Christ by pointing out that the Christian religion confesses that Christ died; death being a mortal characteristic, rather than a divine attribute. Could "God" be subject to the predicate "died?" This casts doubt on the truthfulness of the Christian religion, for if Christ died, attesting to his mortality, there is no guarantee that His doctrine is true and His salvation real. Even ancient heretics used an argument much like this to call into question the divinity of Jesus Christ. Yet, Christ also rose from the dead, showing that He who died was not a mere man. His incarnation effected the personal union of two natures in Christ, God and Man in one indivisible person.
 
The incarnation was not merely an exercise in "transmogrification," by which cartoon characters become the half human and half "elastic man" of the superhero genre. The incarnation was not only a muddling of substances into a mish-mash of the human and divine. It wasn't a genetic soup into which divine fairy dust was mixed. It is not an intellectual game trying to understand the "essence" of Jesus' amazing, unusual life. The question of the God-Man is not an entertaining intellectual exercise or ontological crossword puzzle.
 
The incarnation is "for us." The incarnation is not an issue external to our lives. The incarnation calls into question the meaning of our lives, indeed, what it means for us to be fully human and how we humans might attain fellowship with God. So whatever Christ does as the incarnate Lord is done for our salvation from sin. When He cries out on the cross in agony, He cries out to the Father for us. When He speaks from the cross, He speaks to us; telling us of death's death. He prays before the tomb of Lazarus that we might believe by hearing Him. The Father glorified him in His death that we might know Him as the true God and eternal life. Him we confess to be the gloriously risen God Man. Whatever Christ does, He does for us. The Word of the cross reveals God for us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

  Hilary of Poitiers
"If Christ said, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mk 15:34), and 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!' (Lk 23:46) that we might be sure that He did die, was not this, in His care for our faith, a scattering of our doubts, rather than confessing His weakness? When He was about to restore Lazarus, He prayed to the Father. But what need had He of prayer, who said, Father, 'So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me"' (Jn 11:41-42)? He prayed then for us, that we may know Him to be the Son. The words of prayer did not benefit Him, but He said them for the advancement of our faith. He was not in want of help, but we of teaching.
 
"Again He prayed to be glorified; and immediately He heard from heaven the voice of God the Father glorifying Him. But when they wondered at the voice, He said, 'This voice has come for your sake, not mine' (Jn 12:30). The Father is besought for us, He speaks for us: may all this lead us to believe and confess! The answer of the glorifier is granted not to the prayer for glory, but to the ignorance of the bystanders.
 
"Must we not then regard the complaint of suffering, when He found His greatest joy in suffering, as intended for the building up of our faith? Christ prayed for His persecutors, because they knew not what they did. He promised paradise from the cross, because He is God the King. He rejoiced upon the cross, that all was finished when He drank the vinegar, because He had fulfilled all prophecy before He died. He was born for us, suffered for us, died for us, rose again for us. This alone is necessary for our salvation, to confess the Son of God risen from the dead. Why then should we die in this state of godless unbelief? If Christ, ever secure in His divinity, made clear to us His death, Himself indifferent to death, yet dying to assure that it was true humanity that He had assumed: why should we use this very confession of the Son of God that for us He became Son of Man and died as the chief weapon to deny His divinity?"

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 10.70
John 12:25-33

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
 
"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
 
Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
(ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, You have sent Your Son in the flesh that we might behold our salvation in no other. Grant that we might believe in Him and confess Him the risen Lord and ascended God Man who does all for us. Amen.
 
For William Fontenot, who was just diagnosed with liver cancer, that he might be strengthened and that God would grant healing
 
For all those suffering from drug addiction, that they might depend upon God for strength against this enslaving foe
 
For President Trump, the Congress of the United States, and all who make and administer our laws, that the Lord Jesus would grant them wisdom in their work and a concern for the needs of the people whom they represent
Art: DAVID, Jacques-Louis Christ on the Cross (1782)

Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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