Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is Himself the way.
Total need requires total help
Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross where God did it.
They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body. There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried. It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only lives, so they could only die, and they were dead.
If we do anything to further the kingdom of God, we may expect to find what Christ found on that road – abuse, indifference, injustice, misunderstanding, trouble of some kind. Take it. Why not? To that you were called. In Latin America someone who feels sorry for himself is said to look like a donkey in a downpour. If we think of the glorious fact that we are on the same path with Jesus, we might see a rainbow.
St. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, the revelation of God become human, “set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death-and the worst kind of death at that: crucifixion” (Phil. 2:5-8, The Message) In other words, when God became man, revealing to us our sheer humanity, he didn’t come in the form of a superhuman, but “experienced the poverty of human existence more deeply and more excruciatingly than any other man could.” He became absolutely poor and of no account: ‘a root out of dry ground…no form or comeliness…despised and rejected…we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:2-3 RSV)
When we listen to and follow Jesus, who lived in continual dependence on his Father, we become convinced of our poverty as men and women. We realize our absolute neediness. We are all beggars. Father give us bread. Friend, lend us three loaves. Being human means that we are the poorest and most incomplete of all creatures. Our needs are beyond our capacities.
Obedience is an essential outcome of Christian spiritual formation.
Too often we argue about Christianity instead of marveling at Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t just give us truths; he is the truth. Jesus is the prophet to end all prophets. He gives us hard-copy words from God, truths on which we can build our lives, truths we have to submit to, truths we have to obey, and truths we have to build our lives on, but he himself is the truth.
Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?”
Frederick William Faber
Jesus belongs to us. He vouchsafes to put Himself at our disposal. He communicates to us everything of His which we are capable of receiving.
The hope is held out [in Genesis] that one day the Son would be a second Adam, born to answer the first. . . . And this second Adam would give us a second family to belong to—God’s.
Who [in the Bible] besides Jesus really knew which end was up? Nobody. . . . Jesus realized there is no separation from God.
I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.
Christ is to us just what his cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what he did there…Christ, I repeat, is to us just what his cross is. You do not understand Christ till you understand his cross.
It becomes difficult if not impossible to build a plausible Christology out of a naive, mistaken, hapless, or ignorant Jesus.
In terms of time and space, the scale of Jesus’s earthly ministry was small—three years in a parcel of land where the corners of the world came together.
In Christ as sacrifice, God our judge is judged in our place, reveals our perpetration of and collaboration with sin, ends our rebellion, forgives our guilt, cleanses us, makes us righteous, and establishes us in the kingdom of peace.
Union with Christ is the starting-point for everything else to be thought and said concerning what makes the Christian a Christian.
P. Carnegie Simpson
We had thought intellectually to examine him; we find he is spiritually examining us. The roles are reversed between us…A person may study Jesus with intellectual impartiality, he cannot do it with moral neutrality…We must declare our colours.
The Fact of Christ, 1930; James Clarke edition, 1952, pp. 23, 24.
The discrepancy between the depth and sanity, and (let me add) shrewdness, of his moral teaching and the rampant megalomania which must lie behind his theological teaching unless he is indeed God, has never been satisfactorily got over.
This separateness from sinners is not a little, but a stupendous thing; it is the presupposition of redemption; it is that very virtue in Christ without which he would not be qualified to be a Saviour, but would, like us, need to be saved.
Precisely how a man nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago, who claimed to be the Son of God, came to signify reality, in contradiction to the sawdust men of destiny with their fraudulent wars and revolutions and liberations, is something that can be understood, but not explained. You either see it or you don’t.
He did not desire to dominate men; He desired only to serve men. He did not desire His own way; He desired only God’s way.
He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. Can it be, that the great “I am that I am” shrinks into our flesh? . . . What self-denial, what self-abasement, what self-emptying is here!
The aroma of the knowledge of God comes from Christ and through Christ. The reason why Paul said “aroma” was this: Some things are recognized by their smell, even though they are invisible. God, who is invisible, wishes to be understood through Christ.
The preaching of Christ reaches our ears just as an aroma reaches our nostrils, bringing God and his only-begotten Son right into the midst of his creation. A person who speaks the truth about Christ is just such a good aroma from God, worthy of praise from the one who believes. But one who makes erroneous assertions about Christ has a bad smell to believers and unbelievers alike.
Quoted in Gerald L. Bray, and Thomas C. Oden, Origen of Alexandria, , eds., Romans (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p.210.
Nonetheless, this singular fact, full to the bursting, remains. It is a fact grounded in infinite outpouring: Christ is in me; I am in Christ. . . . Christ in me is not some narrow, introspective, disembodied, private, even embarrassing fact, specially savored by a narrow sect within the larger Christian community. It is an all-encompassing, all-empowering fact from which no quarter of my worship can be excused.
Unceasing Worship, p.57
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