May 10, 2019
The Place of Power
Christ is the Way, the Truth, & the Life
Fallen Man, Adam, has been given a "second chance" through the possibility of a second birth ("born again") through the power of Christ's Resurrection. What is this power? It's much more than what we might imagine when we try as we might to "picture" the resurrection itself. Some might ponder rather poorly some kind of primal "spiritual" power "reanimating" a corpse-but God's Holy One did not see corruption in the first place, so his body in the tomb was unlike other dead bodies after death. Ponder, then, if we must, but carefully, recognizing our human limits in the face of the divine mystery of the Incarnation itself.
It is not given us to know precisely how God can become man in the first place, let alone suffer death and burial as a man. We cannot fully comprehend the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, Incarnate, Jesus, dead in the Tomb, yet destroying the power of death and shattering the gates of hell ("descended into hell"), who "proclaimed to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:19)
But all this--Christ's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection--was done "for us men and for our salvation." This is our faith, even if precisely how we get "plugged into" this salvation is hard to grasp.
Jesus knew what was in store for us, the new birth that was being offered through his "obedience unto death" and subsequent exaltation. He tried to communicate to his disciples this mystery in words that they might understand. In John 14 Jesus attempts to tell the disciples--and us--about a change in our ultimate destiny--from death to eternal life--that will result from his impending "departure," his passion. He speaks at the Last Supper:
Believe in God; believe also in me.In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is no mere prophet, sage, rabbi, or wise man. He says that he, Jesus, in his person is the Path to the Father, that he embodies the Truth, and in him is Life eternal. What I've written doesn't begin to "explain" or even describe this "personal connection" of Jesus to what we think we know of God, which is that God is Father, the source, all truth comes from him, and he is the source of Being and Life.
Another angle from which to look at the role that Jesus plays in our passage from death into eternal life may be these words of Paul to the Christians at Corinth:
"He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" (1 Cor. 1:30-31)
In other words, apart from God, we have no being, and apart from Christ--the crucified and glorified one--we have no wisdom, righteousness, holiness, or place in the kingdom. To put it negatively, if man does not live connected to Christ, he remains unwise (foolish), unrighteous (transgressing), unsanctified (unclean), and unredeemed (dead). We should not boast about what we've been given by grace.
"God... even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places." (Eph. 2:4-6)
This being so, we are to "seek the things above, where Christ is." (Col. 3:1)
Christ arrived at this place by walking the path from Calvary through the Empty Tomb and to the Ascension. For fallen man to be with him, the path begins with taking up the daily cross in faith, per instructions.
We must work at this, but Christ is there to assist us, as he pulled up Peter from the waters. He always saves us, if we only keep turning in his direction, just like newborns, looking to where we find life and sanctification. Now that's divine power, which has "granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3) Those two things go together.
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James
James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.