December 24, 2010

On the Incarnation, No. 4


But when the fullness of time had come,
God sent forth His Son,
born of woman,
born under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:9

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while,
now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death,
so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone...
Since the children have flesh and blood,
He too shared in their humanity so that by His death
He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—
that is, the devil—
and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants.
For this reason He had to be made like them,
fully human in every way,
in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God,
and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2: 9,14-17

Note: This month's posts will also include excerpted text from St. Athanasius's work, On the Incarnation.

For this purpose [to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all - see last week], then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

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Lizzie said...

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas :)

Tracy P. said...

Susan, I have loved these. It is a lot to take in, God's work on our behalf--and stunningly, on his OWN behalf--in Christ. So that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us. Thank you so much for sharing these reflections. Oh, for the grace to grasp just a little more each day the depths of his character.

Brenda said...

Enjoy your blog and you stand for Christ. Your site is fun to just wander around in.