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April 17, 2022
The main sign for us that Jesus is Lord is His resurrection. “Jesus lives” is the essence of our faith, the distillation of all of Scripture, of the creeds, and our hope in two words. As St. Paul teaches: “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. . . (But) Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ miracles don’t come up in the preaching in the book of Acts? Neither Peter, Paul, nor John say much, if anything about them, in their Epistles either. They are recorded as historic facts in the Gospels but then dropped. The Creeds don’t list any of Jesus’ miracles either, nor do they describe Him as a miracle worker. His titles are the titles for Kings, Mediators, Husbands, and Fathers. All this to note that it is not the miracles of Jesus that define Him. It is instead His crucifixion and resurrection. If He is to be our Lord and Savior, then He must be the crucified One who is risen and lives.
This is the sign that divides mankind. Either you believe in the resurrection or you reject it. The priests and Pharisees mostly rejected it. And to this day, most of humanity rejects it. But where it takes root, it bears a hundredfold. By His grace, we believe the Scripture and the word which Jesus said. They destroyed the Temple. He rebuilt it. Now the Temple is more mobile even than the Tabernacle. Finally, He declares that we are His Temples and after we are destroyed, like Him before us, we will be rebuilt.
An important aspect of the empty tomb is that Christ is risen in His body. His Human and Divine natures were never divided, but He did suffer physical death. His Body and soul were divided. His body went to the ground to rest. His soul went to His Father. The natures cannot be divided. They are so interconnected and bond that we can and must speak about each of the natures doing what is only proper to one or the other. Thus we rightly say that Jesus the Man taught with full Divine authority, from His knowledge as God, in a way that not mere human prophet or apostle did and that Jesus the Man performed miracles. At the same time, we also say that the Son of God suffered terribly and died on the cross. The two natures are united and act always in concert with one another in the Christ.
This matters because we need both natures if we are to be saved, but ours is an age that is prone to dismissing His human nature.
Christ, Our Lord, is the Voice of God on earth. He teaches on earth as a Man, but not as a mere Man. He is God Himself, not only speaking for His Father, but also bringing His own authority as the equal of the Father. He is the prophet like Moses but much more. Thus St. Paul: “ God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” He must be God, equal to the Father and the Spirit, or He could not know what He knows. But that we might hear Him, He took up flesh and became one of us. We need Him to be a Man so that we might know and hear God not as Moses did from a cleft in the rock but face to face.
Christ, Our Lord, is also the great high priest in the order of Melchizedek. He needs to be a Man to fulfill this Office. But He is no mere Man. Such is His Divine nature, that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. He can fulfill the Law to such a degree that even things that were once forbidden, such as the eating of blood, is lifted and even commanded in His Sacrament. So also He can offer Himself to His Father as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. To have something to sacrifice, and a sacrifice fit for the redemption of mankind, He had to be a Man.
Now, it is true, that He does not suffer and die according to His Divine nature, but according to His human nature. But His Divine nature is completely united to His human nature. His Divine nature imparts to the suffering and death eternal value. He is not merely a substitute for one other person or for 3 hours or even 33 years of Hell but He is a substitute for all of humanity and that for eternity. His sacrifice pays the wages of sin in full. So without the human nature, He could not fulfill the Law and He could not die, but without the Divine nature His priestly work would lose its redemptive character.
teaches on earth in Christ,
and soul, as a Man. When He died on the cross, His Body and soul were separated. This is a mystery of the Incarnation for His human and Divine natures were not divided, but He suffered physical death. His Body and soul were rent apart. His soul went to His Father in heaven. His body went to the grave. His Divine Nature stayed with both. That is why we can be so bold as to say that God Himself died on the cross. How can this be? We do not know. We simply know that there is One Christ. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity bound Himself to the flesh of Mary to become a Man for the salvation of the world. He is fully God, equal to the Father and the Spirit in every way and also fully Man, with a real, created Body and soul. In this way, He is the Seed of Eve fit and sent to crush the serpent’s head and lead us back to Paradise.
When He rose on Easter morning, He did so as the whole Christ, both natures died and both natures rise. And we get a glimpse into the tomb so that we would know that the Christ did not discard His human nature or body but has raised Himself up. In this way, too, we have a pledge of the presence of His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. His Body is not moldering in the grave, but neither is it a normal raised body of a saint. We can’t eat the body of Lazarus even though he is raised from the dead. He is only a man. The Christ is more. He is God and Man. He is so united as a single Christ that His Divine attributes are communicated to and exercised by His Human nature. Neither nature acts independently or can be separated from the other. Whatever is said of One, must be said of the other. Just as we rightly say that the Son of God died on the cross, we also say that the Man Jesus performs miracles, teaches with divine authority, and sits at the right hand of the Father. His risen flesh, now exalted, is different than that of Lazarus or any mere man. The Body we eat and the Blood we drink is living and bestows life. We do not consume and incorporate it into our bodies, but rather He consumes and incorporates us into Himself. This is what St. Paul means when He says that our eating and drinking in the Sacrament is a participation in the Body and Blood of Christ.