Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Glory of Christ: Fully God and Fully Man

Gregory of Nazianzus (ca. 329-390) was a champion of biblical truth who stood strong against the fierce storms of Arianism. The Arians (named after the false teacher, Arius), taught that Jesus was but a man and certainly not God. They argued that those portions of Scripture that stress the humanity of Jesus necessarily imply that he was merely human, for if he was divine, he could not by definition be tired or hungry or ignorant of the future. Gregory, among others, responded by arguing that these kinds of passages display the true humanity of Jesus without denying, or destroying, his divinity. In fact, when held in balance with other texts, we are forced to conclude that he is fully God and fully man, or that the Bible itself is a farce.

That latter is most certainly not true, and therefore we are left to marvel in the unified, but dual, nature of Jesus. In one of his most famous sermons entitled “The Third Theological Oration—On the Son,” Gregory helps us to gain greater sight of the glory of Christ. Please join me in savoring these awe-inspiring comparisons.

“He [Jesus] was baptized as man, but he remitted sins as God…He was tempted as man, but he conquered as God…He hungered, but he fed thousands…He was wearied, but he is the rest of them that are weary and heavy-laden. He was heavy with sleep, but he walked lightly over the sea…He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; yea, he is the King of those who demanded it…He prays, but he hears prayer. He weeps, but he causes tears to cease. He asks where Lazarus was laid, for he was man; but he raises Lazarus, for he was God. He was sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but he redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the price was his blood. As a sheep he is led to the slaughter, but he is the shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also…He is bruised and wounded, but he heals every disease and every infirmity. He is lifted up and nailed to the tree, but by the tree of life he restores us. He dies, but he gives life, and by his death, he destroys death” (quoted from Christopher A. Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers [IVP Academic: 1998, 73]).

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