Friday, July 30

Why Christ's Flesh Matters

Last Sunday, one of our Elders, Dan Zerbe, led us in a reading from Leo the Great (c. 400-461). We thank the Lord for Dan's commitment to lead us as a Church family in some of the well-known (and not so well-known) documents of the Church. This is vital for the Church of Christ in order that we may know whence faith in Jesus Christ has taken the true Church down through the last two thousand years. We are not disconnected from our forefathers, that "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) who have gone before us. In this reading from Leo the Great, the issue before the church was the person of Jesus Christ, specifically his humanity. Some were degrading the God/man union of Jesus, reducing him to divine, but only in an indirect way, human. It was vital then as now that Christ be 100% God and 100% man if he was to serve as a faithful high priest. As God, Jesus served as the perfect sacrifice. As man he took our sins to the death. This way, Christ paid the price for our sins and that eternally since he is the eternal God. The following reading (keying on these verses) accentuates the necessity and beauty of Jesus' perfect union as the God/man.

See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, Have you anything here to eat? They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:39–43)

Accordingly, dearly-beloved,
throughout this time which elapsed
between the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension,
God’s Providence had this in view:
to teach and impress
upon both the eyes and hearts of His own people
that, just as He was truly born, suffered, and died,
the Lord Jesus Christ might be recognized
to have as truly risen. 
And hence the most blessed Apostles and all the
disciples, who had been both frightened at His death
on the cross and doubtful of His Resurrection,
were so strengthened by the clearness of the truth
that when the Lord entered the heights of heaven,
not only were they affected with no sadness,
but were even filled with great joy. 
And truly great and unspeakable
was their cause for joy,
when in the sight of the holy multitude,
the nature of mankind went up,
above the dignity of all heavenly creatures,
to pass above the angels’ ranks and to rise beyond the archangels’ heights.
In its ascension,
our human race did not stop at any other height
until this same nature
was received at the seat of the Eternal Father. 
Our human nature,
united with the divinity of the Son,
was on the throne of His glory!
And so, dearly-beloved,
let us raise our hearts’ eyes unimpeded
to those heights where Christ is. 
Minds that have heard the call to be uplifted
must not be pressed down by earthly affections,
we that are fore-ordained to things eternal
must not be taken up with the things that perish;
We that have entered on the way of Truth
must not be entangled in treacherous snares,
and we faithful must so take our course
through these temporal things as to remember that
we are sojourning in the vale of this world, in which,
even though we meet with some attractions,
we must not sinfully embrace them,
but bravely pass through them. 
Since Christ’s Ascension is our uplifting,
and the hope of the Body is invited
where the glory of the Head has gone before,
let us exult, dearly-beloved,
with worthy joy and delight
in the holy paying of thanks. 
For to-day not only are we confirmed
as possessors of paradise, but have also
in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven,
and have gained still greater things
through Christ’s unspeakable grace than we had lost through the devil’s malice. 
Our virulent enemy had driven us
out from the bliss of our first abode,
but the Son of God has made us members of Himself
and placed us at the right hand of the Father,
with Whom He lives and reigns
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. 

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