Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living witnesses

We are living witnesses of Jesus' divinity:
Jesus, who was hanged on the cross.

We are the loud and piercing heralds of this sign that was given.
We confess the power of the Cross that was raised on Golgotha after so many centuries have passed.

From where did this transformation originate?
How did a certain man who was hanged and crucified on a cross in Judaea as a criminal among two thieves conquer the entire world after his death?
How was mankind persuaded to acknowledge as God a man who died on the Cross?

How did mankind follow Him with self-denial, lifting as He did the Cross on its shoulders, ready to ascend eagerly to Golgotha with Him, ready to shed its last drop of blood on His behalf?

How did kings accept Him as the King of kings and the Lord of lords?
How did the nations and peoples decline to worship their own gods in order to offer worship to the crucified Jesus?
Why did they abandon their personal idols in order to honor that which was foreign, and the known to honor the unknown?
How did the cross of dishonor become a most Venerable Cross adorning the crowns of kings and emperors?
What power accomplished all these things?

The power of the Crucified One.
The power of the Son of God, Who descended from heaven.
His divine, almighty power made all these things happen.
His power is the power that conquered the world.

The disciples of the crucified Jesus did not have an army to lead.
They had no weapons.
They possessed neither a bag nor a staff.
Rather, as sheep among wolves, they preached the crucified Jesus, who was a scandal for the Jews and foolishness for the Greeks.
They did not preach with wise rhetoric, but rather with simple, powerful words.

Where, though, did this power come from?

Truly, this was an ineffable power, because with simple commands the fisherman, the tax-collector, and the tent-maker resurrected the dead, cast out demons, repelled death, muzzled philosophers' mouths, sealed orators' lips, defeated kings and rulers, and ruled over Greeks, barbarians, and all peoples.
This was because they preached the Gospel with authority all over the world.

How did the fishermen become Apostles and heralds of the revealed truths?
How did they catch the nations and peoples as fish in a net?

Peter had grown old casting nets on the shores of Tiberias.
How did he become a most-wise and most-eloquent speaker in one day, thus persuading thousands of Jews who had aged in the worship of the Old Law that the external grandeur of their ancient and revered worship was no longer pleasing to God, and that it would be abolished forever?

That all of its mystical services were nothing other than a shadow of the things to come, which were now being revealed?
That the traditions to which they were adhering were commandments of men that opposed God's law?
That He Whom they had condemned, the disregarded man Who breathed His last upon the Cross, is the Great Redeemer Himself, the awaited Messiah Who was pre-announced to them by the prophets?
That they are not the only object of divine providence's wonderful graces, but that all the nations of the earth are invited to share in the delight with them?

How did the fisherman successfully persuade the polytheistic Gentiles to purify themselves, render their thoughts spiritual, detach them from the dead matter they were accustomed to, and return them to the living God?
How did they separate them from the deceptive pleasures of the senses, cleanse them from the passions, and render them wiser than the wise?
How, especially, did they persuade them to worship a man who died on the Cross and transform before their eyes the foolishness of the Cross into heavenly wisdom?
How did the heralds of the Crucified One convince their new followers to denounce their secular interests and live subject to the disdain, humiliation, and derision, to disregard all types of pain and punishment, to resist all temptations, and to endure unto death in a teaching whose rewards are guarded for the next life?

Truly, it is a great mystery.

The foolish things of the world, the weak, the things that are despised, and the things that are not, put to shame the wise, they weaken the powerful, and they abolish the things that are!
He who was crucified on the Cross gave such power to His disciples!
God was hidden in the person of Jesus!
The Son and Word of God, Who contains everything, is contained in a body!
Man becomes a mystic of God's desires!
God's Spirit descends upon men!
Man foresees the future!
The infinite God communicates with finite man, the immaterial with matter, the Creator with creation, the Potter with clay!
God reveals Himself to people, God's Spirit refashions and renews man who has been corrupted by sin.
Man becomes a god; he becomes a communicant of the grace of the Holy Spirit!

In essence, these are truly unfathomable mysteries; their outcome, however, is clear.
We are incapable of understanding how God became man, but we realize that only the God-man was able to accomplish that which is a unique property of God.
We are incapable of understanding how man becomes god, but we realize that without God man could accomplish nothing, especially that which the men of God, that is, the Prophets, the Apostles, and all the Saints, accomplished.
The miracles are truly an enigma, but their power and outcome are obvious.

The Christian Faith is a mystery, but its truth is apparent from its power and effects; because the Christian Faith provides abundant evidence externally and bestows assurance internally.

All the above attest to the divine character of our Savior Jesus Christ, Who provided the great sign sought by the Jews. This sign proclaims most loudly the heavenly descent of the Son of God, Who came to save man in accordance with the will of His eternal Father.

— Nektarios of Pentapolis, Christology,
Part II, Chapter 8, Christ's Divine Nature attested to by the moral rebirth that took place in the world

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