A Glorious Paradox

At the crucifixion, we encounter the greatest paradox in the history of the universe: the God-man died. The personhood of Christ is a glorious mystery. Our finite minds cannot fully comprehend how Jesus is one person who possesses two natures. He is the eternal Son of God, who took on our full humanity, apart from our sinful nature. Jesus’ life and message demonstrated that he is fully God and fully human.

In the following passage from his Five Theological Orations, Gregory of Nazianzus highlights the paradoxical nature of Christ’s personhood. Soak it in and consider how great a salvation he has achieved for us.

He hungered—yet he fed thousands. He is indeed “living, heavenly bread.” He thirsted—yet he exclaimed: “Whosoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Indeed he promised that believers would become fountains. He was tired—yet his is the “rest” of the weary and the burdened. He was overcome by heavy sleep—yet he goes lightly over the sea, rebukes winds, and relieves the drowning Peter. He pays tax—yet he uses a fish to do it; indeed he is emperor over those who demand the tax…he prays, yet he hears prayer. He weeps, yet he puts an end to weeping. He asks where Lazarus is laid—he was man; yet he raises Lazarus—he was God. He is sold, and cheap was the price—thirty pieces of silver; yet he buys back the world at the mighty cost of his own blood. A sheep, he is led to the slaughter—yet he shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well. A lamb, he is dumb—yet he is “Word,” proclaimed by “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He is weakened, wounded—yet he cures every disease and every weakness. He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it—yet by the tree of life he restores us…He dies, but he vivifies and by death destroys death. He is buried, yet he rises again. He goes down to Hades, yet he leads souls up, ascends to heaven, and will come to judge quick and dead.

Oratian 29

(As a side note, if you are looking to read some primary sources from the early church, I would highly recommend the Popular Patristics Series. They are a good entryway into the Patristics.)

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